Forelinx Fantasy Golf Preview ⏤ Valero Texas Open

Fantasy Golf

Tpcsan Antonio2

The PGA TOUR closes out its Texas two-step with this week's Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, TX in the wake of last week's WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, TX. After a week off from the usual medal play format, players will be back to returning 72-hole total scores at host venue TPC San Antonio (Oaks). For some, this week will serve as a great opportunity to tune up for next week's Masters Tournament. For others, it will serve as the last chance to get into the field at Augusta National next week.

Because of the tournament's location on the calendar, it seems that those in the field already next week have taken one of two approaches. Some players (e.g. Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, etc.) like to play their way into the major championships while others have historically taken the week off before the majors. It seems this week the latter outnumber the former, but one player who can go either way in that debate has opted out of the tournament at the last minute. Dustin Johnson, scheduled to defend at Augusta next week, was scheduled to play here but opted to pull out on Monday. Fantasy players will have to monitor their lineups to ensure they don't err in leaving him in before midnight PST on Wednesday.

The Field and the Favorites

Without Dustin Johnson in the field, the favorites become a lot harder to identify. He would have running away been the favorite to win this week and will likely be running away the favorite to win at Augusta National next week, but now the remaining players left competing at TPC San Antonio will benefit from his absence. Jordan Spieth is the favorite to win (+1000) for what has to be the first time in a number of years. Spieth has played his way out of the slump he had been mired in and gotten himself into contention a number of times in the early part of this year. His resurgence has many wondering if he might not be a great pick at next week's Masters (where he had one of the all-time best three-event stretches of 2nd-1st-2nd). While he might not be such a great pick for this week's Texas Open at the unattractive price the favorite usually gets, he is a great pick among those players in Group A for this week's Forelinx Fantasy Pick Em'.

The second favorite is Tony Finau (+1200) and he definitely merits consideration this week. He's been a mainstay among the top-five finishers in the early part of 2021 and while the Sunday hardware has eluded him he seems destined to bag one sooner rather than later. If you put yourself in position to win enough times, rarely do you never find your way into the winner's circle. Some of those losses have been hard luck and others have been self-inflicted, but all of them are part of what can be a learning process when it comes to winning golf tournaments.

The third favorite is last week's runner-up finisher Scottie Scheffler (+1400), but he's a candidate for exhaustion this week in the wake of playing seven matches en route to that second place finish last week. That was a lot of golf to play in just a five-day stretch and he looked completely gassed by the time the final eighteen holes came around against Billy Horschel. He didn't need to keep up a particularly high standard of golf in that final (as few birdies were made by either player) to win it but he couldn't make the pars he needed to in order to pick off some easy winning holes. We wouldn't be surprised to see him have a rough week.

The Golf Course

TPC San Antonio (Oaks) is a collaborative effort between Sergio Garcia and Greg Norman (presumably during the time when Garcia was dating Greg's daughter) and should provide a fair test of golf to the players this week. First and foremost, we'd expect the winds to have dried out the golf course over the last week or so and deliver us a firm and fast edition of the Valero Texas Open. Players will have to judge the bounce on their approaches into the greens and manage the ball on the ground from the tee. Those same winds should yield an advantage to the players who can flight their ball and move it both ways to help mitigate the effects of the breeze.

If you look at the last three winners here, it becomes clear that iron play is perhaps the most valued asset at TPC San Antonio. All three of the recent champions at the Valero Texas Open (Corey Conners, Andrew Landry, Kevin Chappell) finished in the top-three for the week in greens-in-regulation, Strokes Gained: Approach and Par-3 Scoring (which is illustrative of quality iron play). This should come as no surprise given that the greens are not easy to hit, they are surrounded by run-off areas that make missed greens more costly and the winds make misses pay a higher price than they otherwise might.

Perhaps the most fun hole at TPC San Antonio is the par-three sixteenth that features a bunker in the middle of the green in the style of the sixth hole at Riviera. The shape of TPC San Antonio's edition is a little more triangular than it is square (like the one at Riviera) and so it divides the green into three distinct areas (front, back-left and back-right). The front hole locations tend to keep the bunker out of play while the back hole locations make the middle bunker far more of a factor. Don't be surprised if the Sunday hole location is nearly right behind that bunker as this edition of the "doughnut hole" is much flatter in it's back middle section than the one at Riviera.

The closing hole should be pivotal come Sunday as it's a reachable par-five with a creek that runs up the final 100 or so yards from the fairway to the greensite. Hitting the fairway will be critical as the hole is likely unreachable from the rough and the lay-up area is split into two fairways. It's no bargain finding the sliver of fairway to the left that offers the better angle on the wedge shot and the play from the right side is complicated by the creek hard up against the green's right side.

All in all, TPC San Antonio offers an awfully complete test of golf. It requires players to think the game well, requires them to drive the ball accurately and demands high-quality iron play in order to contend. Once you throw in the additional complicating factor of the wind, you've got yourself a stern challenge. That having been said, players can score here if they are on their game. The winning scores here have usually fallen in the area of 15-under to 20-under par and we expect them to do so again this week.