Valero Texas Open Betting, DFS Picks: Load up on Long Shots

Valero Texas Open Betting, DFS Picks: Load up on Long Shots article feature image
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John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour stops this week in San Antonio, Texas, for the Valero Texas Open. If you were hoping to tune in for more iron play and 3-woods off the tee like we saw last week at Harbour Town, you’re out of luck. TPC San Antonio is long and windy and favors golfers who know how to use the long stick. Who are those guys? Let’s find out from our expert PGA crew …

 

Course

TPC San Antonio is one of the tougher tracks on tour. The course measures at 7,435 yards for a par-72.

It’s basically the polar opposite of what we saw last week at Harbour Town. Driver is the king at TPC San Antonio. This course has been home to the Valero Texas Open since 2010, and, in that short time frame, the winners have primarily been guys who can drive with anyone on tour. Just last year, we saw Kevin Chappell, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Kevin Tway take the top-four spots. All four finished in the top 25 last year in Driving Distance.

The reason distance is so important comes down in large part to the par-5s. Three of the four par-5s measure at least 590 yards, so players need the distance off the tee if they’re going to attack these holes in two and give themselves a shot at a long eagle putt or a chance to get up and down for birdie. Only three of the other 14 holes played under par, so the par-5s are where players can do most of their damage. — Joshua Perry

Josh is right: Distance is crucial at this track. Let me put some data behind that. Using the FantasyLabs Trends tool, we can back-test a variety of metrics to see what types of players do well at TPC San Antonio. The baseline golfer last year produced a -5.80 DraftKings Plus/Minus. From there, I looked at how golfers in the top-20 percentile of each metric have historically fared at this course. Here’s the data …

It’s interesting that Recent Driving Distance back-tested so well, particularly since quite a few of these guys in the field are coming off playing the short Harbour Town course. I’d be curious if we had a filter of “Golfer didn’t play Harbour Town the week prior” if it would produce similar results. Perhaps not using a driver at all for a week and then needing it to be perfect is just too much of a quick change.

Anyway, the data suggests targeting guys who can take advantage of the long par-5s and put themselves in birdie and even eagle situations on a consistent basis. Recent Greens In Regulation (GIR) back-tested well, too, so don’t blindly take bombers. Take the ones who are in at least decent recent form coming into the track. — Bryan Mears

Listen to more analysis on the course and all players in this week’s PGA Flex podcast.


The Field


The 2018 Valero Texas Open hosts one of the weaker fields on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is the headliner at +1200 with Matt Kuchar (+1800) and Charley Hoffman (+1800) the only other golfers under +2000.

This makes for a tough week to find value in the betting odds. Guys we’re used to seeing in the +4000 to +5000 range are now coming in somewhere between +2000 and +3000. Luke List and Ryan Moore are in that group, coming in at +2200 and +2500.


The Favorites

Betting market: The past three champions have come from that overvalued +2000 to +3000 range that was just mentioned with Jimmy Walker, Hoffman and Chappell claiming titles.

List will pop up in every model as someone who should play well here. He hits the ball as far as anyone and is coming off a third-place finish at Harbour Town, a course that should have handcuffed his off-the-tee game. He’ll be a popular bet, but I’m going to drop down a notch to Moore and back him at +2500.

Moore doesn’t have the distance of most of the champions here, but in his two appearances he’s finished eighth and 18th. He’s able to contend here because he’s accurate enough off the tee to keep him out of trouble and then hits a lot of greens. That will give him enough birdie chances to be there on Sunday. I don’t think there will be a rush to bet him, though, with guys such as Hoffman, List and Garcia looking like much better course fits at the top of the board. So I’m going to wait and see if his number drops a bit. — Joshua Perry

DFS spin: It’s safe to say Hoffman ($10,900 on DraftKings) likes TPC San Antonio quite a bit. He has never missed a cut at this tournament and boasts 10 top-15 finishes, along with first- (2016), second- and third-place finishes. Over the past four tournaments at San Antonio within our database, he’s sporting a 75% Consistency Rating:

Hoffman will likely come highly owned, as he’s averaged 20.1% ownership in guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) over the past four years, but he’s one of the safest players you could roster this week. He offers an excellent floor with upside for more. — Justin Bailey

Read more DFS analysis in Bailey’s PGA Breakdown.


Mid-Tier

Betting market: This range hasn’t produced much in eight years at TPC San Antonio. The first winner, Adam Scott in 2010, and the three most recent winners were all in that sub-3/1 range. The four winners in between were all 100/1 or higher.

This is usually a spot in which we’ll find a lot of value on some players, so it’s pretty weird that a course has never produced a champion from this mid-tier group of guys. Maybe we’re overdue, so I plan on betting on four guys I like here.

The first is Xander Schauffele at +4000 on Bovada. Again, driver is important, and with Schauffele ranking 16th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, I think we’re getting a good number on him in this weak of a field.

I’m also backing Jamie Lovemark and Bill Haas at +7000 and +7500, respectively, on Sportsbook. Lovemark is coming in at +4000 on Bovada while Haas is +5000, so there are some differences of opinion among the oddsmakers on these two.

Lovemark is usually good with the driver, but he’s off to a bad start this year. He’s gained strokes off the tee in his last two events, however, so he’s starting to turn that around. Haas is in the Moore mold: He doesn’t have the distance of the guys we’d normally target, but he’s done a lot of his damage in his career in the weaker fields, so getting him at a big number is worth a look.

The last guy I’m targeting is John Huh at +8000. I’m waiting to see some line movement on him as well. I think a 90/1 or 100/1 may pop up later in the week, so I’m going to be patient on him. He was second here in 2012 and has been pretty consistent recently, making eight of his past nine cuts. — Joshua Perry

DFS spin: I agree on Lovemark; he’s a strong play in DFS this week. He is sporting a LT Adj Rd Score of 69.5 that ranks 10th-best in the field, but he is priced outside of the top 22 golfers. Lovemark has plenty of distance with his 304.1-yard LT DD, and he’s a solid scrambler, avoiding bogey or worse on 60% of his holes in the past 75 weeks and 72.6% in his past three tournaments. Lovemark boasts a 68.8 Recent Adj Rd Score and 2.0% Vegas odds to win. Historically, golfers with comparable odds and metrics to Lovemark’s have been great values (per our Trends tool): — Justin Bailey


Long Shots

Betting market: As mentioned, the long shots have had some success here. The lack of star power at the tournament allows guys without much prior success to get to the top of the leaderboard without the threat of one of the game’s elite players tracking them down on Sunday afternoon.

On that note, I’m targeting a couple of bombers here who I like in Grayson Murray and Keith Mitchell.

Murray is +14,000 on Sportsbook and is another guy among the leaders in Driving Distance. The stats aren’t always great for Murray because he’s playing a lot of tournaments on shorter courses that don’t fit his game — such as the RBC Heritage and Valspar, where he missed the cut. But when we get him off the West Coast and on a longer track, he’s more of contender.

Mitchell comes in at +20,000 on Sportsbook, and, like Murray, he dominates with the driver. He ranks 15th this year in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and is tied for 11th in Driving Distance. Iron play has been his biggest concern, so if he can get close to field average there, he could make a run.

I’m backing Murray for a top 10 at +1250 and Mitchell for a top 20 at +800 as well.

There are a few other long shots who I’m looking at for top 10s or 20s, including Troy Merritt, Aaron Wise, Bronson Burgoon, and Adam Schenk. They’ve all been hitting it well off the tee recently and should be flying under the radar.  I’ll be patient with these guys as well. There won’t be much money coming in on them, so their odds are likely to dip later in the week in the top-20 markets. Wednesday is when I like to check in and make these plays after there has been some line movement. — Joshua Perry

DFS spin: Abraham Ancer ($6,900 on DraftKings) is well-rounded with an exceptional 68.7 Recent Adj Rd Score, excellent 71.3% Recent GIR and 70.7% Recent Scrambling Score. Those aren’t fluky numbers, either; they’re right in line with his long-term marks. It’s also not very often you get a golfer who costs $6,900 and has odds as high as Ancer’s (1.2%), but historically they’ve been solid values: — Justin Bailey

Pictured above: Jamie Lovemark