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2022 Valero Texas Open Round 2 Picks: Windy Conditions Set to Challenge Friday’s Afternoon Wave

2022 Valero Texas Open Round 2 Picks: Windy Conditions Set to Challenge Friday’s Afternoon Wave article feature image
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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau.

It was an interesting start to the week at TPC San Antonio as the big names that remained in the field to tee it up on Thursday collectively struggled out of the gates. The favorites will all go into Friday outside of the Top 30 after lackluster rounds to begin the Valero Texas Open.

Russell Knox, on the other hand, came out with the game he has displayed many times early this year as he had his ball striking going once again. He was also able to roll in some putts and even chip one in from off the green to post a 7-under opening round.

Knox would be caught and passed later in the morning by Rasmus Hojgaard, who was rolling in birdies and eagles from all over the course until his final hole bit him with a double-bogey. Hojgaard will start his second round one shot behind the lead but still ahead of the pack.

The leaderboard really starts to bunch up beyond those two as Matt Kuchar leads a group of four players at 5-under, with twelve more behind them at 4-under. It is still a wide-open tournament, and with winds expected to pick up on Friday afternoon, the leaders look to be on the short end of the draw for round two, which will have me targeting some morning starters.

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Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly played by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.

Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.

Every situation in golf is different. Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.

In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics:

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)

In general, ball-striking and tee-to-green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.

You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2

His putting left quite a bit to be desired, but it’s hard not to be encouraged by the round we saw from Tony Finau on Thursday. He has struggled to start the year and finally showed a little glimmer of hope last week in the final match of his week, which he rolled into some good ball striking to start the Valero Texas Open.

Finau gained 3.31 shots on the field with his ball striking in the opening round and balanced it between his irons and driver. He gained shots on the field across all of his drives on the back nine and was just as good on approach where he gained on 10 of his final 11 iron shots.

Finau will get the good end of the draw and head out in the calm conditions on Friday morning, which has me eyeing him in all formats for Round 2 including the +3000 to win available on DraftKings.

Bet Tony Finau at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.

I mentioned at the start that we didn’t see many good rounds out of the elites in this field, and Corey Conners certainly fits in that category this week. He was the best of that bunch with a 2-under 70 to start the tournament, and he will head into his Friday morning tee time tied for 30th.

Unlike my typical buys, Conners didn’t have a good day with his ball striking, and it was actually his putter that held him together for an under-par round. I will look at him a little differently than most as his ball striking never stays down for long, and I expect we see it bounce back in a big way in the second round.

Conners has ranked inside of the top 15 on TOUR in Strokes Gained both Off the Tee and Approach each of the past two seasons, and we should see the better version of that tomorrow. I don’t love the +2200 available outright, but I do love him in all other markets for Round 2.

Bet Conners & Riley at BetMGM, get a risk-free bet up to $1,000.

We keep seeing Davis Riley pop up on leaderboards, and he certainly did more than that just a few weeks ago when he lost in a playoff to Sam Burns at the Valspar. He’s in the range once again as he posted right alongside my other two buys with a 2-under 70 on Thursday. He will also go out in the morning wave with a chance to move up into contention before the weekend.

The Alabama alum put together an all-around solid day on Thursday as he gained strokes in every metric of his game tee to green. He settled in at 2.92 shots gained in that category overall and gained more than a shot on the field both off the tee and around the greens.

Riley’s biggest issue was getting the ball in the hole as he lost 1.39 shots on the putting surfaces, but if he can get that back in line, he will be in position to move up the leaderboard on Friday. I like his value at +5000 going into second round and just like the others, I’ll have a share of him in matchups and DFS, as well.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

It looked like a dream round for Rasmus Hojgaard, who seemed to be rolling in everything he looked at on Thursday. He would hole over 174 feet of putts on the day, including two bombs from more than 36 feet.

Unfortunately for him, and his First Round Leader backers, it came unraveled on his final hole of the day. A poor drive left him chipping back into the fairway on the long Par 4, and then he made things worse when he airmailed the green on his approach. He would need two more shots to get back to the putting surface, ending his day with a double bogey six.

The young Dane will need to shake it off and bounce back on Friday, but I think he may struggle due to a combination of factors. The first is obviously the putting, which is simply not sustainable across multiple rounds. He gained better than four shots on the field with his flat stick on Thursday and just 1.52 shots tee to green.

The other factor is the wind, which will be impactful, and for a player who is new to the top of the leaderboard on this TOUR, he could be running into some difficult factors for his second round.

I played Matt Kuchar this week on the DFS side and expect that he could have a solid week on a course where he has put up some good results. My fade for Kuch on Friday is more about his draw in the wind and the ball striking struggles he faced on Thursday.

He lost shots to the field with his overall ball striking in the first round, and much of that was on approach. His day was really made on and around the greens where he picked up 5.31 shots on the field. The added wind factor will make it difficult on Kuch if he can’t get his ball striking ironed out as those winds can wreak havoc on shaky play leading into the green.

He got the absolute most out of his round on Thursday, and I think we may be able to benefit from that with matchup odds going into Round 2.

I don’t think of Rory McIlroy as a player that is ever going to mail it in on a week, but his play was uninspired on Thursday. He couldn’t ever really get anything going as every time he would take a step forward, there would be another one back in a hole or two. He certainly has had his first-round struggles in the past year or so, but I’m going to stick with the fade in Round 2 as well.

Rory will be one of the names to watch next week at The Masters regardless of his finish in Texas, and it’s natural to think he could be looking ahead to his next attempt to complete the career grand slam.

He certainly didn’t look like a player on Thursday who is ready to win a major next week as he lost strokes to the field on 11 of his 18 approach shots. His irons were notably off, and with the winds set to pick up during his round on Friday afternoon, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets on his way to Augusta a little earlier than expected.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 1

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