It’s almost Masters week. We’re almost there. But before we get to Georgia, we need to go to San Antonio.
The Valero Texas Open can serve as a tune-up for the Masters, or a last ditch effort to get into the field. This week, we are seeing players use it for just those reasons.
Rickie Fowler doesn’t have a spot in the Masters. He needs a win this week. Fowler hasn’t missed a major since the 2010 Open, and has fallen all the way to 94th in the OWGR. His only appearance at this event is a T17.
Other big names in the field: Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland, Scottie Scheffler, and Hideki Matsuyama.
TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course)
Many of the fairways around this track are tight, and tree-lined. Driver is going to be very important this week, and it will more be about hitting fairways, and not so much about distance.
Fairways in Regulation. Like I said above, the guys will need to hit a lot of fairways this week. If you’re playing from the rough all week, it will be tough to hit greens in regulation due to the tree-lined nature of the course.
SG: Around the Green. As you can see in the chart above from DataGolf, SG: ARG is more important this week at TPC San Antonio compared to the TOUR average. Tricky run off areas surround many of the greens here, so being able to get up and down from those spots will be crucial.
Data Golf Information
Course Fit: 1. Nine Bridges, 2. TPC Summerlin, 3. Monterey Peninsula CC
Trending (of the players in the field): 1. Scottie Scheffler (Last 3 Starts: 5, MC, 2), 2. Brian Harmon (T43, T3, T5), 3. Jordan Spieth (T4, T48, T9)
% Chance to Win (Baseline, Course History and Fit): 1. Tony Finau (6.2%), 2. Scottie Scheffler (5.3%), 3. Hideki Matsuyama (4.2%)
Twilight 9 Best Bets
Not sure how we are going to attack guys that are in this field coming off a long week in Austin. For example, Matt Kuchar has great history here (T7 in 2019), but made it all the way to Sunday afternoon in the 3rd place match. That’s a lot of golf for an older guy. He’s +140 for a Top 30, but I’m unsure if I’ll take it due to the fatigue factor.
Let’s get into it.
Top 20 – Charlie Hoffman (+175)
I’m not his biggest fan, but I had to take him here. He won this event back in 2016, and the last time it was played (2019), he came in solo 2nd. Since February 1st, Hoffman has been the 6th best iron player in the world, gaining 1.20 strokes per round in Approach. He missed the cut in Phoenix, but since has 2 Top 10s, and a T17 at the PLAYERS. Last week at Corales, Charlie played better than his finishing position due to a tough round on Sunday. In a weak field, I’m expecting Charlie to contend again. He’s 14-14 in making the cut at this event.
Top 40 – Kevin Chappell (+175)
This is another guy that loves this event. He, like Hoffman, is a past champion (2017), and has a Top 5 back in 2016 (T4). He’s only made 2 starts on TOUR since 2021 began, with his latest being the Honda Classic where he finished T13. His last appearance at the Valero was a T30 in 2018.
Top 30 – Brendan Steele (+125)
He’s made 8 starts in 2021, and has made every cut. His most recent start was a T3 at the Honda Classic just a few weeks ago. He won this event back in 2011, and has 2 Top 10s here since.
Top 10 – Abraham Ancer (+225)
He had it rolling at the WGC Match Play. He was 2-0-0, and 2 UP on Hovland with 5 holes left in their match. Hovland would go on to win 3 holes in a row (15-17) to win the match 1 UP. Ancer then went into a playoff with Kevin Streelman (who he beat earlier in the week), and lost after Kevin made a 11 footer for birdie, and Ancer missed a 7 footer. Pretty bad couple hours to end his week in Austin. He’s made 7 starts in 2021, has 4 Top 25s, and a Top 5 at the American Express. On the year, he’s 2nd on TOUR in driving accuracy, and 14th in greens in regulation. He’s yet to have a high finish at this event in 3 tries, but he’s made all 3 cuts. I really like Ancer this week.
Top 30 – Andrew Putnam (+188)
He started his 2021 season with a MC, and his last start was a MC at the PLAYERS, but everything in between was great. He had Top 5s at the API and in Puerto Rico, and another Top 10 in Phoenix. He finished T36 here in 2019, but recorded a Top 10 in 2018.
Top 20 – Zach Johnson (+200)
He’s made 14 straight cuts, with four top-10’s, including a T-8 in his last start at the Honda Classic. The last time he played in the Valero Open was 2018, and he finished solo 5th. Add a T-6 in 2014. In his last 24 rounds at the Valero, he’s 1st tee-to-green, third in SG: Around the Green, and 6th in total strokes gained.
Top 30 – Rickie Fowler (+164)
He had to go on the list this week. He needs to win to get into the Masters. If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is. His only start here is a Top 20. In 8 starts this year, he has missed 3 cuts, and owns only 1 Top 20 (T20 at the Genesis). Nothing in his stats shows he’ll have a good week in San Antonio. But I’d feel stupid on Sunday if he makes a run.
Cover via GolfDigest.com (Patrick Smith, GI)