2021 Valero Texas Open Betting Picks & Preview: The Stats Show Value on Griffin, Higgs & Champ

2021 Valero Texas Open Betting Picks & Preview: The Stats Show Value on Griffin, Higgs & Champ article feature image
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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Champ

As players and fans gear up for The Masters, the TOUR stays in Texas for the Valero Texas Open which returns to it’s normal spot in the schedule as the calm before the storm at Augusta National. The tournament was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic so we haven’t seen an event at TPC San Antonio since 2019.

TPC San Antonio is a 7,494 yards par 72 and features Bermuda-grass greens.  The main defense of the course is weather. If the wind picks up it can play pretty tough, otherwise expect the winner to be in the -20 range.

There are 140 golfers in the field this week. Dustin Johnson was a late scratch after committing last week. The field is what you would expect this week, with many golfers sitting out prior to The Masters. In addition to Johnson, the field includes notables such as Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson.

Past Winners at TPC San Antonio

  • 2019: Corey Conners (-20)
  • 2018: Andrew Landry (-17)
  • 2017: Kevin Chappel (-12)
  • 2016: Charley Hoffman (-12)
  • 2015: Jimmy Walker (-11)

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5 Key Stats For TPC San Antonio

Let’s take a look at five metrics key for TPC San Antonio to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes gained: Approach is the best measure of current form. With plenty on the line this week golfers will be looking to either punch a ticket to Augusta, or round into great form heading into The Masters, so this metric should tell us a pretty good story about where a player is heading to San Antonio.

As Corey Conners showed in 2019, strong iron play works well around TPC San Antonio.

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Charley Hoffman (+24.8) (+3300)
  2. Corey Conners (+22.7) (+1800)
  3. Cameron Davis (+19.1) (+4500)
  4. Jordan Spieth (+18.0) (+1400)
  5. Lanto Griffin (17.6)(+4500)

2. Opportunities Gained

Scores at TPC San Antonio can get pretty low depending on the wind. If conditions are calm it may turn into a bit of a birdie-fest and golfers who give themselves the most chances at making birdie will be in the driver’s seat.

Opportunities Gained Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Sam Burns (+29.2) (+5500) 
  2. Charley Hoffman (+26.0) (+3300)
  3. Corey Conners (+23.6) (+1800)
  4. Cameron Davis (+23.0) (+4500)
  5. Harry Higgs (+19.4) (+9000)

3. Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

Off the Tee is statistically more important at TPC San Antonio than TOUR average. The past four winners of the Valero Texas Open have ranked 8th, 4th, 9th, 4th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee for the week, respectively. Hitting the ball long and straight will be a major factor this week.

SG: OTT  over past 24 rounds:

  1. Jhonnatan Vegas (+15.4) (+10000)
  2. Corey Conners (+15.2) (+1800)
  3. Brendan Steele (+15.0) (+4150)
  4. Cameron Champ  (+14.8) (+11000)
  5. Cameron Davis (+13.3) (+4500)

    Gregory Shamus, Getty Images. Pictured: Brendan Steele

4. Strokes Gained: Ball-striking

Ball-striking combines off of the tee and approach. Golfers coming in to the week striking it well from tee to green will be in a great spot to compete this week.

The rough can be penal at times around TPC San Antonio so driving accuracy is important. At over 7,400 yards the course isn’t short so the driving distance aspect of this stat will be a factor as well.

SG: BS Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Corey Conners (+37.8) (+1800)
  2. Cameron Davis (+32.5) (+4500)
  3. Charley Hoffman (+30.8) (+3300)
  4. Tony Finau (+25.4) (+1100)
  5. Keegan Bradley (+25.3) (+4500)

5. Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass)

While a hot putter is always tough to predict, it is still important to factor Bermudagrass putting into the stat model this week. The past two winners (Landry and Conners) both prefer to putt on Bermuda statistically.

A combination of iron play and putting were the recipe for both of these golfers en route to their respective victories.

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass) over past 24 rounds

  1. Ryan Armour (+25.0) (+20000)
  2. Denny McCarthy (+19.6) (+7000)
  3. Sam Burns (+18.1) (+5500)
  4. David Hearn (+17.7) (+40000)
  5. Chesson Hadley (+15.7) (+17500)

The Valero Texas Open Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (27%), SG:BS (19%), SG: OTT (20%), SG: Putting Bermudagrass (14%) and Opportunities Gained (20%)

  1. Cameron Davis (+4500)
  2. Corey Conners (+1800)
  3. Charley Hoffman (+3300)
  4. Tony Finau (+1100)
  5. Cameron Tringale (+2500)
  6. Sam Burns (+5500)
  7. Abraham Ancer (+2000)
  8. Lanto Griffin (+4500)
  9. Henrik Norlander (+12500)
  10. Chris Kirk (+4500)
Pictured: Lanto Griffin. Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

2021 Valero Texas Open Best Bets

Lanto Griffin (+4500): A former winner in Texas, Lanto comes to TPC San Antonio in good form. In the field over his past 24 rounds Griffin ranks 6th in approach, 11th in Ball-Striking and 8th in Bermudagrass putting. If he is in contention down the stretch I trust his ability to win a PGA TOUR event, which can’t be said for many golfers in the mid tier this week.

Sam Burns (+5500): I have resisted the temptation on Burns when he was super popular in his past few starts. The Valero Texas Open is an event where Burns can actually win. Burns finished 23rd at TPC San Antonio in 2019 and has the right skill set to win this week. If the scores get low I like his ability to make a lot of birdies to keep pace.

Harry Higgs (+9000): Higgs gained 8.1 strokes on approach in his most recent start at The Honda Classic, where he finished in 19th place despite losing 3.1 strokes putting. Typically a positive putter on Bermuda, I expect a bounce-back with the flat stick. If Higgs can keep the iron play hot he has tremendous value at +9000.

Cameron Champ (+11000): While always a volatile play, Champ does offer a good deal of win equity. Bombers have typically fared well at TPC San Antonio as the past four winners of the Valero Texas Open have ranked 8th, 4th, 9th, 4th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee.

Champ comes into the event in poor form, but that hasn’t stopped previous winners of the Valero Texas Open in the past. Six of the past 10 winners of this event had finished 42nd or worse in their most recent start, including 4 missed cuts among those golfers.

Akshay Bhatia (+25000): Akshay is a player I have been very high on and think he is a future superstar on TOUR. The smooth swinging lefty is exciting to watch and in terms of betting him I would rather be early than late as his breakthrough may come soon. The last we saw him he finished 30th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

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