The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course information, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
This week the field gets bigger with 150 or more golfers on the start list. While we lose some of the international talent we had last week, there will be a few elite faces teeing things up in Texas, including the likes of Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth. This is the last tournament before Augusta (aka, The Masters), and those names and a few other players will be looking to get their games fine-tuned for next week.
The rest of the field will be searching for a big week for FedEx Cup points or a breakthrough win that could book them a ticket to the first major. Some other interesting names in the field this week includes last week’s fourth-place finisher Lucas Bjerregaard, Valspar runner-up Jason Kokrak and THE PLAYERS runner-up Jim Furyk. The cut will take place after Friday, like usual, with the top 70 players and ties making the weekend.
TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course)
Par 72, 7,435 yards
TPC San Antonio is a long par 72 that plays more than 7,400 yards and always is ranked as one of the tougher par 72s on tour. The conditions in the past have been extremely volatile as the wind can pick up here quickly and make things crazy given the relatively open layout. Last year the wind stayed down and the winner posted the lowest winning score ever at this venue, but it should be noted the course still played as the 12th toughest venue on tour. Back in 2015 half the field got exposed to gale-force winds for a round and it seriously screwed up the tournament as only the afternoon wave golfers really had a chance to win.
TPC San Antonio was designed by Greg Norman and has been the host of this event since 2010. The course sets up quite long, even for the PGA. There are four par 5s. Three of them come in at just under, or just over, 600 yards, and none of them guarantee a great shot at birdie. Fairways here are narrow in places, but going a bit off line generally won’t kill a golfer because 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 4s. The greens here are known to be tough, too, with a lot of sharp falloffs and contours the players must navigate. Many of the recent winners of this event have been big hitters off the tee but also have scrambled well in the year of their respective victory.
The course features four par 3s — three of which come in well over 200 yards in length — and an additional five par 4s that will measure more than 440 yards each, so good long iron play is essential, too. Overall, TPC San Antonio seems to be a place where good off the tee and long iron play will be crucial given the difficulty of many of these longer holes, and where a solid week around the greens could prove the difference between a good finish and a great one.
2019 Weather Report: The weather this week looks halfway decent, although, given that it is springtime in Texas, there could be the odd interruption. The highs for the week are in the low-80s, and it looks like a mix of clouds and sun. There aren’t any huge storms in the forecast, but Saturday could see a possible thunderstorm go through. The wind, which has caused pure chaos here in the past, doesn’t look menacing at all this week as it’s not set to rise above 12 mph in any spots. Friday afternoon might be the gustiest of the first two days, but winds are still set to top out at just 9-10 mph.
PAST FIVE WINNERS
2018—Andrew Landry -17 (over Trey Mullinex -15)
2017—Kevin Chappell -12 (over Brooks Koepka -11)
2016—Charley Hoffman -12 (over Patrick Reed -11)
2015—Jimmy Walker -11 (over Jordan Spieth -7)
2014—Steven Bowditch -8 (over Daniel Summerhays -7)
— Of the past nine winners at the Valero Texas Open, only four had recorded a top-10 or better in a PGA Tour event (in the same year) before their win.
— Since the tournament moved to TPC San Antonio, four of the past five winners of this event have ended the season ranked 36th or better in Driving Distance.
— The past five winners had played this event at least once prior and had made the cut here on their most recent visit.
— Four of the past eight winners of the Valero Texas Open were first-time winners on tour.
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 5 Scoring
Since 2011, when the course moved to TPC San Antonio, the worst a winner has finished for the week in terms of Strokes Gained: Tee to Green is 11th, and that was a quite unlikely winner in Ben Curtis in 2012. Last year’s winner, Andrew Landry, despite not being a big hitter, did finish first in this stat for the week. TPC San Antonio is known for being one of the tougher tracks on tour, and top finishers here almost always rank well in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green for the week.
Driving Distance is also a good stat to target. The longer par 5s don’t play as straight-up birdie holes, and the course also contains some longer par 4s, so length off the tee can be advantageous in certain spots. Of the players who ranked inside the top 10 in Driving Distance in 2016 for the week, only two failed to crack the top 30. Last year’s runner-up, Trey Mullinax, ranked first in this stat for the week.
Finally, Par 5 Scoring is a decent stat to view this week. The course features four such holes, although at least two of them will not necessarily be birdie chances. Three of the four par 5s at TPC San Antonio measure in at just less or just more than 600 yards, meaning strong, straight drives will be needed to play these well. Since the course moved to TPC San Antonio in 2011, five of the past eight winners of this event have ranked T3 or better in Par 5 Scoring for the week of their win, including 2017 winner Kevin Chappell.
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.
|Daniel Berger||55-1||$7,800||Si Woo Kim $7,900 and 66-1
Russell Henley $7,900 and 60-1
Denny McCarthy $8,100 and 70-1
|Abraham Ancer||33-1||$8,900||Ryan Moore $9,000 and 40-1
Byeong Hun-An $9,200 and 33-1
Lucas Bjerregaard $9,000 and 40-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Charley Hoffman (best finishes: win-2016; second-2011): Hoffman has a sterling record at the Valero Texas Open. Since the course moved to TPC San Antonio, he has seven finishes of 13th or better at this event, including a sixth, third, second and a win in 2016. He’s one of the top horses this week and hasn’t missed the cut here since 2010.
2. Brendan Steele (best finish: win-2011; fourth-2012): Steele is a former winner of this event and another player who has taken to the course quite well. In seven appearances he has missed only one cut and has three finishes of eighth or better, including the aforementioned win in 2011. He’s no sure thing, though, as he’s mired in a slump that has seen him miss six of seven cuts coming in.
3. Ryan Palmer (best finishes: fourth-2016; sixth-2015): Palmer has made eight of 10 cuts here since 2009, but three of his past four starts have yielded finishes of T6 or better. The veteran suits this longer par 72 quite well, and even though he’s played only once in the past five weeks, he easily could pop here given his history.
4. Jimmy Walker (best finishes: win-2015; fourth-2018): Walker hasn’t done much in 2019, but this might be a spot where he comes back to life. The 2015 winner also finished T4 here last season and was T13 here in 2017 as well. The Texas native has played well in this state over his career and loves this event.
5. Billy Horschel (best finishes: third-2015, 2013): Horschel hasn’t been as consistent as the top horses, but in eight appearances at this course, he’s made five cuts and recorded three top-five finishes, including a T4 from 2016. With three finishes of T11 or better here in four of his six appearances, Billy Ho deserves a hard look this week in DFS.
Cash Games: In an event like this — one week before a major with a weak field and no huge favorite — searching for value in the upper tiers seems appropriate when picking anchors. Sungjae Im ($10,100) and Jason Kokrak ($9,400) have been two of the most consistent players on tour over the past month or so and look like solid plays here. Further down, the likes of Abraham Ancer ($8,900) and Ryan Palmer ($8,400) look like solid targets, with Palmer having a nice blend of recent form and course history. It gets thin quickly further down, but the likes of Matt Jones ($7,200), Sam Burns ($7,100) and D.J. Trahan ($6,700) all look like potential value plays for this format.
Tournaments: Tony Finau ($10,800) hasn’t been great this season, but his high price and the plethora of players underneath him with better recent form means he might go under-owned this week. Jim Furyk ($9,600) is a great long-iron player who also could garner low-ownership in this range. Further down, Russell Henley ($7,900) and Ollie Schniederjans ($7,500) both carry plenty of upside against a field like this, and the consistent Joel Dahmen ($7,500) also can be targeted in this range. Boom-or-bust targets here include the likes of Scott Stallings ($7,000), Peter Uihlein ($6,900) and Grayson Murray ($6,600).
1. Jason Kokrak: Kokrak is a perfect 11-for-11 in cuts made this year along with finishes of T9 or better in three of his past four starts. Coming off a disappointing T2 finish at the Valspar where he blew a playoff or better with a closing bogey.
2. Sung-Jae Im: Im was T7 or better in three of his past four starts. The rookie has been as advertised but did falter Sunday last week after he looked like he might be in position to take home his first win. He comes in ranked 18th in SG: Tee to Green on tour.
3. Jim Furyk: Furyk has been insanely steady over the past two months. He’s six-for-six in terms of cuts made along with a solo second-place finish at THE PLAYERS, and two more top-20 finishes to back that up. He comes in ranked ninth in SG: Approaches on the year.
4. Lucas Bjerregaard: The big-hitting Dane shocked the world last week by not only winning his group but by taking out the best player perhaps ever to play the game in the quarterfinals. He’s six-for-six in cuts made this year and has finished T12-T30-T4 over his past three starts.
5. Jhonattan Vegas: Vegas has been under-the-radar consistent of late and has finished T26 or better in each of his past four starts, including a T3 finish at THE PLAYERS. The big-hitter has the profile to perform well at TPC San Antonio, even if his course history looks a little lacking.
MY PICK: Ollie Schniederjans ($7,500)
This pick might feel a bit hopeful, but when you take into consideration both the player’s history and this event, he seems to make a lot of sense this week. Schniederjans has never been the most consistent player since he stepped on tour a few seasons ago, but his talent is immense. He went toe-to-toe with Henrik Stenson down the stretch at the Wyndham two years ago, already has racked up four top-five finishes on tour and co-led for a few holes at THE PLAYERS three weeks ago, on Sunday.
More importantly, is the fact Schniederjans’ biggest weakness last season seemingly has become his best weapon. Ollie’s now gained strokes off the tee in each of his past six rounds on tour and led the field in Driving Distance at THE PLAYERS (20th on the season). His struggles last year in this area were immense, so to see him turn things around so drastically off the tee is a great sign.
He’s played this venue each of the past two seasons, placing T36-T18, and has shot par or better in seven of those eight rounds. This event has seen a lot of first-time winners over the past 10 years, and with Ollie coming off a confidence-building showing at the first big event of the year, he makes for a serious upside play in this weaker field at only $7,500 this week.
MY SLEEPER: D.J. Trahan ($6,700)
Trahan’s a 38-year-old journeyman who has had limited starts so far this season but has flashed some nice form. The vet has finished T18 or better in each of his past three starts and comes in with some impressive ball-striking stats, as well. Trahan ranks 18th in SG: Off the Tee, 19th in Approaches and seventh in Greens in Regulation.
TPC San Antonio will be a bit of a change from the courses Trahan has been playing, but that doesn’t mean his results should change. He’s made the cut at TPC San Antonio in both appearances and finished T15 here back in 2013. At 19th in tee-to-green stats and 44th in Driving Distance (averaging more than 300 yards per drive), he’s well-suited to the tougher par 4s and 5s that players must navigate here.
Additionally, at 18th in Birdie or Better Percentage this season, he’s been a valuable DraftKings play who has averaged 79.4 DKFP per start — not bad for a player consistently under-owned and less than $7K in salary. He’s not the best DJ on tour, but Trahan fits the mold as a great sleeper play this week.
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