Valero Texas Open April 20th – 23rd

Man, I wonder how much of a chance Wes Bryant thought he had of donning the hideous red plaid winner’s jacket of the RBC heritage when he decided to wear hot pink pants on Sunday. An interesting look, we’ll say.

Was looking to be the week of the year for yours truly when Luke Donald finally appeared to be reverting to recent career norms on Saturday along with charges from Webb, Dufner, Kisner, Cantlay, Palmer, and just about everybody else I was on. Was sitting 2nd in the main slate Dogleg, had positions one through four in the late slate $4, 1/3/5 in the Weekend $36. I was not all wrapped up in one player or lineup either, as I seemed to have a number of outs even if some of my guys fell off the cliff.

The lesson we continue to learn is: laugh at the Donald, ignore the Donald, and by the time we realize he’s dangerous it’s too late. He scrambled like Spieth while all my dudes couldn’t buy a putt and ended up with a ho-hum week overall. This game is not for the faint of heart.

Ok, let’s look forward.

This week we get the Valero Texas Open, in San Antonio. This course has some insanely long holes as well as some strangely short ones so the whole bag will be tested. One of the pars 5s actually averages over par. This in general is another course on the low end of the scoring spectrum, with only one real go to birdie hole. The field itself isn’t pretty either, unless the Skechers strut of Matt Kuchar or the too-intense-for-his-own-good lunacy of Patrick Reed fits your style. And it gets ugly fast, with some real, um, real nice people down at the bottom.

This is also a large field, with 152 players scheduled to tee off. This will make the cut tougher to get through than we’ve seen recently, which in theory decreases the number of 6/6 teams we are likely to see on the weekend. While I have my issues with the idea of cut making being a skill, a friend of mine summed it up best by saying that there are still skills that lead to cut making. I’m not going to be the guy that tells you to exercise caution when roster building, but if I were going to do it I’d be more likely to at an event like this. Let’s just say the 6100 guys are that cheap for a reason.

 

Length/Fairways: As I mentioned above there are some awfully long holes so we are going to want some distance if it’s available to us.

However:

-The fairways aren’t particularly wide.

-There are some really short holes here too, so there is historically a very strange distribution of iron shots.

-Freaking Aaron Baddeley has played pretty well here, and that guy can’t hit the broad side of a barn off the tee.

As most of you probably know about me by now, I’m always going to value work done off the tee. However, since I’m having a hard time identifying a particular set of tee skills that is going to get one ahead, I won’s specifically be weighing distance or my accuracy metric as much as making sure they are gaining strokes off the tee somehow.

Greens: The GIR% here is low, but I think that’s more a function of the narrow fairways leading to a higher percentage of second shots from the rough. A nice approach game is going to be important, but because of the 600 yard par 5s mixed in with some 350 yard par 4s, shots are coming from everywhere.

The 2016 proportion of iron shots from each distance. This is very unusual, and there will not be many players who are going to fit this mold. Again, we want player who are gaining on the approach and somewhat around the green, but fitting to a specific distance is going to be difficult.

0-500.291
50-1000.080
100-1500.176
150-2000.256
200-2500.075
250+0.122

 

Weather: This is definitely a course that has been swallowed up by windy conditions in the past, another likely culprit for less success hitting fairways and greens.  The wind will likely be a factor again this week, and checking back to see if you can get some players with a better tee time is going to be super important.

On to the golfers:

With the difficulty in finding a specific archetype for the course, this is going to be very much about finding as much golfer as you can for your dollar. Unfortunately with the weaker field, some of these tags are going to cause some sticker shock, but we need to remember that the prices are relative.

Pricey:

Brendan Steele-9.9: Always solid, Steele is having an incredible season off the tee, and he has eaten here in the past. The short game will probably get him into trouble a few times, but when he is rolling putts the dude can score like the absolute top dogs.

Adam Hadwin-9.1: I think this is the tag that will stand out to people the most, and I’m definitely intrigued. The putter has regressed a little, but he makes up for his lack of distance with excellent long iron work, and we’ve all seen what he is capable of. If he ends up your 30% owned guy I will step back some, but he rates as an excellent value.

Fade: Matt Kuchar-11.5: Just too much money. The guy is great, but I think even if he is competing, he’s unlikely to put up the scoring barrage necessary to pay off that tag. Despite churning out fine finishes every year here he only has one of his five attempts with a top 10% DK score. I will short hard the idea of him finishing top 3 with 18 or so birdies.

Mid-range:

Ryan Palmer-8.6: One of the key plays to my run last week, Palmer appears to finally be regressing to who we know he is. The bad news is he’s 2k more and probably triple the ownership this week, but if he is “Ryan Palmer” again this is still a touch underpriced.

Keegan Bradley-7.6: Keegan quietly went unconscious for about two and a half rounds last week, after being left for dead with a wretched front nine. He turned back into a problem on Sunday, but the hot flashes are still there and he is playing reasonably well, continuing to gain strokes until his allergy to getting the ball in the damn cup shows up as he gets close to the green.

Tony Finau-8.4: You know I can’t pass up this level of tee skills, right? Has a rep as terrible on Bermudagrass that hopefully chops a few points off the ownership, but he has been fine on it this year.

Jhonattan Vegas-8.1: Guy bangs from the tee until he gets around the green, and then has actually been putting fine lately. I think how well he is playing is flying under the radar a little, despite the no show at the Masters.

Cheapies:

I’m not into many guys down here this week, but a few I’m considering:

Anirban Lahiri-7.4, Scott Piercy-6.9, Jim Herman-6.6, Seamus Power-6.8, Ryan Armour-6.8, Trey Mullinax-6.3

My boy Jason Kokrak-7.2 has been such a disaster with the short game that I just don’t know right now. He bogeyed his last three holes to miss on Friday afternoon.

Site Specific Values:

Fanduel: You can basically do whatever you want over there again, just gotta pick the right couple of super cheapies. I like Lahiri-6.1 and Herman-4.6 quite a bit.

FantasyDraft: I may have spoken too soon when I said that they softened up their pricing so much, as it seems to be back to normal. You’ll need to jam in a couple of low end plays, where I find Piercy-15.9 and Herman-14.8 particularly attractive.

Go and get it everybody.

Find me on Twitter @andrewmbarron or in the FanVice Premium Slack @hotmajik if you wanna talk strat/make jokes/argue