The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
South Africa stayed hot as yet another one of the top South African players on Tour picked up a win. Branden Grace may not be regarded by Americans as a top player because of the fact they don’t see him that often, but make no mistake, he was clearly the second best player in the field last week, and once Jason Day dropped back, he capitalized on the opportunity. Grace is back this week, as are some people we haven’t seen since the Masters. This tournament should be another tough test and an interesting lead up event into the Players in a few weeks time.
This week the field gets bigger with 150 or more golfers teeing things up. While we lose world number 1 Jason Day, we gain a few more above average players in Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson. These three will all be in the field along with last week’s stars Branden Grace, Brysen DeChambeau and Luke Donald. It will be interesting to see how the top players do after either being in contention or taking a week of rest. The bottom of the field will have plenty of names you might not be familiar with, but some good, young players will be in attendance and could make for interesting value plays. Doing research on the entire field this week might help unearth a good sleeper or two for lineup construction.
Weather looks like it might keep the course wet into Thursday, but the wind won’t be near as big an issue as it was last year. Hopefully the players will get both rounds in on Thursday and Friday before the cut where the top 70 golfers and ties make it to the weekend.
TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course)
Par 72, 7,435 yards
TPC San Antonio is a long par 72 that plays over 7400 yards, but is always ranked as one of the toughest par 72’s on tour. The conditions last year were semi-insane as the starting group on Thursday had to deal with the kinds of winds we usually only see in Twister movies. This seriously messed with the tournament, as only the afternoon wave of golfers really had a chance to win. This year, the weather calls for lots of rain beforehand but not nearly as much wind, so it’s quite possible things may break towards the course playing easier overall.
TPC San Antonio was designed by Greg Norman and has been the host of this event since 2010. The course sets up long, and as mentioned already, the wind and weather can turn it into one of the toughest tests on tour. There are four par 5’s but three of them come in at over 600 yards and play as three shot holes for almost everyone. Fairways here are fairly narrow, but going a bit off line generally won’t kill a golfer, as the course plays wide open in many spots and has almost no water on it.
Some spots are more penal than others, though, as Kevin Na found out in 2011 when he took 16 strokes to complete one of the par 4’s. The greens here are known to be tough, too, with lots of sharp falloffs and contours the players will have to navigate. Both of the last two winners of this event are fairly big hitters off the tee but scrambled and putted extremely well in the year of their respective victory (as one must do if one is ever going to win on tour).
“…This course is unlikely to yield many birdies, and we could once again see a winning score in the high single digits”
The course also features four par 3’s, three of which all come in well over 200 yards in length. With an additional five par 4’s that will measure over 440 yards each, TPC San Antonio seems to be a place where good, long iron play will be helpful given the length of these holes. With many challenging approach shots, this course is unlikely to yield many birdies, and we could once again see a winning score in the high single digits.
Last 5 Winners
- 2015 – Jimmy Walker
- 2014 – Steven Bowditch
- 2013 – Martin Laird
- 2012 – Ben Curtis
- 2011 – Branden Steele
- Of the last 6 winners at the Valero Texas Open, only one had recorded a top ten in a PGA Tour event before their win
1) Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
2) Strokes Gained: Putting (SGP)
3) Approach Proximity 175-200 Yards and >200 yards
4) Par 5 Scoring
There isn’t one area that really sticks out for me this week in terms of statistical trends; however, it does feel like some of the best putters in the game tend to do well here. Matt Kuchar, Jimmy Walker, Chris Kirk and Daniel Summerhays are some players with good success here who consistently find themselves ranked inside the top 50 in SGP year-to-year. I think using this stat along with Strokes Gained: Tee to Green makes sense in any rankings this week.
With several approach shots landing in the 175-225 yard range this week, I think using Approach Proximity stats from this distance to help select players isn’t a bad idea either. The green complexes here are often described as being pretty tough by the players, and those who take the challenge out by simply hitting it close will prosper. Additionally, three of the par 3’s this week measure in at over 200 yards or more, so players going well with their long irons will have a distinct advantage on those holes.
Finally, Par 5 scoring is also a decent stat to view this week, as the course features four such holes, although they will not necessarily all be birdie chances. Three of the four par 5’s this week measure in at over 600 yards meaning strong, straight drives or a good short game will be needed to play these well. Looking at Par 5 Scoring stats to find players who handle the longer holes well isn’t a bad idea on most par 72 courses, and in a thin field it could help you find some stronger plays.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
|Aaron Baddeley||70-1||$7,400||– Si Woo Kim $7600 and 70-1
– Keegan Bradley $7900 and 70-1
– Kyle Reifers $7500 and 90-1
|Patrick Rodgers||80-1||$7,300||– John Huh $7300 and 100-1
– Colt Knost $7200 and 100-1
– Bryce Molder $7500 and 80-1
Horses for Courses
1) Charley Hoffman has a sterling record at the Valero Texas Open. Since the course moved to TPC San Antonio he has six finishes of 13th or better at this event, including a 6th, 3rd and a 2nd. He’s the top horse this week for sure.
2) Billy Horschel hasn’t been as consistent as Hoffman, but in five appearances at this course he’s made four cuts and recorded two 3rd place finishes. He seems to always come here with his game in good shape, and this year is no different.
3) Brendan Steele is a former winner of this event, who has also taken to the course. In five appearances he only has one missed cut but has three finishes of 8th or better including the aforementioned win in 2011.
4) Daniel Summerhays is also worthy of a mention this week, as he’s now reeled off three straight top tens at this event in a row and finished 2nd here back in 2014. He seems to get along with TPC San Antonio just fine.
This is another weak field, probably even more so than last week. Without a ton of reliable plays outside of the higher echelons, one could and probably should consider taking a few chances with some lower priced plays. This tournament has a history of seeing some big performances out of lessor known players, and I won’t be shocked if we see some names at the top of the leaderboard this week that gives us all some pause. I’d avoid overpaying for the mediocre talent this week and look to roster some reliable names with some potentially good value plays in tow. In a lessor known event going with one or two lessor known names might actually be the right play.
Top Studs – Recent Weeks
- Matt Kuchar
- Brysen DeChambeau
- J.B. Holmes
Top Values – Recent Weeks
- Si Woo Kim
- Whee Kim
- Troy Merritt
RBC Heritage Picks
My Pick: Phil Mickelson ($9,900)
I have waffled back and forth on a lot of players this week, but I can’t get away from the numbers, and right now the numbers say Phil Mickelson is the best player in this field. Mickelson ranks 8th in Strokes Gained: Putting and 11th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. His play at the Masters might have shocked and disappointed a lot of people, but looking at the big picture, there’s little to suggest Phil’s game has simply gone off the rails (he was 8th in his last start before the Masters at the Shell Houston Open). While he doesn’t have the great course history other players do at TPC San Antonio, Phil is talented enough to win anywhere, and with wet weather in the forecast, soft greens might make it very enticing for his aggressive style. Jimmy Walker won here last year with big drives and some timely putting, and, quite frankly, if he can use that formula to win here I think an in-form Phil can too. He’s my pick to get it done this week.
|Valero Texas Open||Phil Mickelson||MC|
|RBC Heritage||Bill Haas||T14|
|The Masters||Rickie Fowler||MC|
|Shell Houston Open||Phil Mickelson|
|Puerto Rico Open||Freddie Jacobson||14th|
|Arnold Palmer Invitational||Rory McIlroy||28th|
|Valspar Championships||Webb Simpson||MC|
|Cadillac Championships||Henrik Stenson||28th|
|Honda Classic||Brooks Koepka||26th|
|Northern Trust Open||Bubba Watson||Win|
|Pebble Beach||J.B. Holmes||11th|
|WMO Phoenix Open||Justin Thomas||MC|
|Farmers Insurance Open||Jimmy Walker||T4|
|Sony Open||Danny Lee||T33|
My Sleeper: Shawn Stefani ($6,100)
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7,000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
Stefani is a player who has really started off poorly in 2016. That being said, he’s proven to be a pretty quality player over his career and was incredibly consistent the past two years at making cuts for fantasy. Last week, Stefani ranked 24th in the field for Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, a decent sign that his game might be returning to form. I also love the fact he played extremely well at this event last year, going four under in his last three rounds after braving the windy conditions on Thursday. If Stefani gets anything going with his putter here he could be in for a really good finish, and at his reduced price tag, I think he makes for a nice play this week in fantasy. He’s my sleeper this week and a player I think could return excellent value.
|Valero Texas Open||Shawn Stefani||T29|
|RBC Heritage||Zac Blair||T59|
|The Masters||Chris Kirk||MC|
|Shell Houston Open||Sean O’Hair||T10|
|Puerto Rico Open||Scott Langley||T8|
|Arnold Palmer Invitational||Harold Varner||MC|
|Valspar Championships||George McNeil||T11|
|Cadillac Championships||Daniel Berger||28th|
|Honda Classic||Jon Curran||MC|
|Northern Trust Open||Scott Pinckney||MC|
|Pebble Beach||Alex Prugh||MC|
|WMO Phoenix Open||Jason Kokrak||MC|
|Farmers Insurance Open||Robert Garrigus||T50|
|Sony Open||Daniel Summerhays||T13|