The JW Marriott TPC San Antonio plays host to the Valero Texas Open this weekend, as several of the top American players and a few other top competitors from around the world continue to gear up for the first major of the year, coming up in just three short weeks. And the name of the tournament is no coincidence, as the defining characteristic of this one is very simple as you begin to listen to the experts discuss what might happen this weekend: Texas.
As the Tour moves on from Florida, the focus shifts from those FL natives on Tour to the Texans who will look to represent their home state in this one. This includes players like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Ryan Palmer. All of these guys are good enough, and playing well enough right now, to make them attractive options even without the home-town discount. So when you throw in that home cooking, it makes you confident enough to drop down a significant chunk of money on any of these guys, and they could all end up being good buys. Every one of them could be in the top ten when all is said and done, and they’re not cheap, all of which could make this a week where you are going to want to search high and low for those sleeper picks.
A guy who will score you a decent amount of fantasy points and keep playing through the weekend, even if you really don’t like his chances of winning the thing himself, is worth his weight in gold if his price tag means you can secure one or more of the highest price players. With great track records in-state, solid performances leading up to this one, and games that make you see visions of the future of golf, Spieth and DJ and Palmer, as well as other players like Jimmy Walker, are solid choices at every venue, and seem like veritable locks when the location is in their favor as well.
And whether the players you like hail from the Lone Star State or not, they are going to have to contend with the defining physical characteristic of the course, which actually has nothing to do with the course itself and has more to do with, well, Texas. As the wind whips across the high plains of the desert around San Antonio, it can lend a distinctive challenge for the players, and will make the ability to control your ball paramount, taking a wide open landscape and making it feel like a links course.
And analysis like that is when you can start to really take advantage of some of the next-level stats that are starting to be produced by the PGA Tour, such as Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. This new stat uses the same formula that helped redefine the way we looked at putting, and it uses a massive amount of data to compare the way a player is playing on every type of shot, on every course, relative to the way other players are playing under the same circumstances. A stat that even begins to remove the myriad of variables that occur on every golf shot to look strictly at what the player is doing with what he can control is obviously going to be useful to golf analysts, and therefore also to fantasy golf enthusiasts (analysts). If you look even just quickly at the list of players topping the Strokes Gained: Tee to Green list, it’s a list of the top ball strikers in the game, but you can also take it a step further and look at the biggest movers on that list, and those players with the biggest jump forward are playing the best right now, even if their final position on the leaderboard doesn’t tell the story so clearly. Just bookmark that link and thank me later.
I hope it helps. Good luck.