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 …
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.