JW Marriott TPC San Antonio plays host to the Valero Texas Open this weekend, and while some of the top talent from around the world that surfaced in Florida is gone, there are plenty of great options in this one. Most of the very best players you’ll have to choose from this weekend are the who’s who of American golfers right now, with one or two notable exceptions (like Bubba Watson, not in the field). Every top pro, this time of year, is planning their schedule around a desire to peak in Augusta, and, frankly, you should be doing the exact same thing – every contest you enter now is just ramping you up for the big money you’ll have a shot at in a few weeks.
Here are a few players at every level you can consider as you building your lineup for the weekend:
Jordan Spieth ($14,000) – A Texas native, Spieth would be a no-brainer anyway, with three top ten finishes in his last four outings (and 17-birdie, 80-fantasy-point T17 in the fourth). Thrown in a home-course advantage, and the only real question left is how sure you are that he will win it, because $14K is a pretty steep price tag. He could finish 7th or so and start to feel like a decent buy, and not a great one.
Dustin Johnson ($13,200) – Three top five finishes in his last four tournaments. Um, he won he last one. Nine rounds under 70 in those three tourneys, averaging almost 19 birdies, and over 100 fantasy points, in each.
Jimmy Walker ($10,800) – This seems like a lot of choices from the “High-Priced” portion of the list, but there is a good reason for it – all of these guys might not be able to win, but it is very easy to imagine a scenario where all of them finish in the top 10 or so. You might not be able to afford more than one of them, which makes this the most important decision of the weekend, but on the bright side, it might be tough to go really wrong. They might just all be good choices.
Ryan Palmer ($10,000) – Palmer is the kind of choice that’s easy to feel good about. Another Texan, his game is well-suited for what could be windy conditions on the course this weekend, and he’s got five top-25 finishes in his last six.
Kevin Na ($9,400) – He’s someone that finds himself in the mix in even the deepest of fields, and he has shown an ability to close out a win in the past. He has three top-ten finishes in his last three tournaments, so clearly he is playing well right now, with rounds of 66 and 67 highlighting each of his last two performances. The way he is playing right now, you can trot him out there confident that he isn’t going to hurt you badly, and he might very well win the entire thing, tough to say with confidence about anyone not in that highest price grouping.
Martin Laird ($9,100) – He hasn’t missed a cut in his last five, and his worst performances have still been netting you 60+ fantasy points, as he is the type of player who falters trying to make shots, not playing it safe.
Brendan Steele ($8,800) – Before a 76 on Sunday last weekend, he had gone ten straight rounds without shooting a single one over par. He is playing well right now, and even when he isn’t, he’s consistent. He just never seems to be in a bad position out there, which is the kind of thing your stress level appreciates when you’re sweating your lineup all aftenoon on Sunday.
Jason Kokrak ($8,500) – Top-ten finishes each of the last two weeks, including an entire tournament with only four bogeys last weekend. The key for him in this one is going to be accurate off the tee, because if he can keep it in the fairway, he’s got enough distance to really help himself out on approach shots, especially if that wind is impacting other players.
Charley Hoffman ($8,300) – He hasn’t been performing up to the standards he set for himself a month ago, which is why he’s a bit cheaper than you might remember. But here at Valero, he is 5-5 with no finish worse than T13. That doesn’t sound like a coincidence to me.
Daniel Berger ($8,000) – T13 last weekend. The week before that, he missed the cut. Before that? Four consecutive outings inside the top-25. He’s young, but he has given us plenty of opportunities to trust the idea that barring some special circumstances, he’s going to make himself noticed .
Shawn Stefani ($7,400) – He has a solid all-around game, striking the ball cleanly off the tee and on his approaches. If he can get a few putts to drop, he could find himself in contention down the stretch, and at the very least should be able to avoid the kind of blowup round the could lead to a missed cut.
Francesco Molinari ($6,900) – He leads the Tour in fairways hit, so hopefully he can avoid any really serious trouble that might come from a strong wind and a fast course. But he is also 33rd on the Tour in scrambling, so he has the ability to recover often enough to at least stay alive through the weekend.
Zac Blair ($6,100) – Another really young player to watch on Tour, he finished with a -8 last weekend despite a 73 on Thursday. He has the talent to hang with anyone, and even if he is not likely to win this tournament, if he strings together four good rounds, he could be a player who lets you afford one of the top dogs without ending up as the black hole in your roster that keeps you out of the money.