This week’s Valero Texas Open features a unique field: Those looking to qualify for The Masters, and those looking to fine-tune their game before heading to Augusta. WagerTalk golf handicapper Andy Lang shares his thoughts on this week’s PGA Tournament with DFS recommendations and players to avoid.
2023 Valero Texas Open Field
This is a difficult tournament to handicap as players have vastly different motivations and mindsets as The Masters is next week. Last year, Hideki Matsuyama was a betting favorite here at the Valero Texas Open, however, we smelled a rat because he was the defending Masters Champion and we wondered why he was playing the week before. Well, he went out and played terribly in the first round and withdrew. You have to handicap the course, and then on top of that, try and guess who’s going to want to play on the weekend, and who will be excited to get to Augusta if they have a Master’s spot locked in.
The course isn’t that difficult, but if you don’t hit fairways, the rough can make approach shots difficult and as always down in Texas, the wind will dictate the difficulty. Wind doesn’t appear to be too bad as of now with slightly higher winds across Thursday afternoon, but they won’t be near 20 MPH so I’m not worried.
JJ Spaun is the defending champion, and he’s the type of player that makes a lot of sense to back this week. He won last year, he played great last week, and he doesn’t have a Masters invite. In this article, we always look at who is in the best form in the field, so here are the top performers this week in Total Strokes Gained over the last three months:
1. Tyrell Hatton
2. Chris Kirk
3. Rickie Fowler
4. Si Woo Kim
5. Nick Taylor
6. Taylor Montgomery
7. Sam Ryder
8. Ben Griffin
9. Hideki Matsuyama
10. Matt Kuchar
2023 Valero Texas Open Players to Avoid
Tyrell Hatton – He may have a wrist issue at the worst possible time right now as he showed up to Match Play with a bad wrist, and he proceeded to go 0-3 and looked really bad doing so. I’m not sure why he’s playing this week. My guess is to see what that wrist is going to feel like. He’s locked into The Masters and he’s never played here. I can’t think of a less-motivated guy in the field than the highest-priced golfer. There is no chance I’m betting on Hatton, if anything, he’s a gigantic fade as I think a withdrawal is a possibility.
Hideki Matsuyama – Did someone say high-priced golfer with no motivation because they are locked into The Masters? Hello, Mr. Matsuyama. He’s second on the odds board at most shops, and he’s only played here twice finishing 30th and withdrawing. Investing in him is not a wise move.
2023 Valero Texas Open DFS Darlings
Byeong Hun An ($7,400 on DraftKings) – He doesn’t have an invite to Augusta so he’ll be motivated to go for a win. Outside of withdrawing from a tournament a month ago, he’s made the cut in the seven other tournaments he’s played in.
Nicolai Hojgaard ($8,000) – He’s been great on the European Tour, and in a tourney that is very watered down, he’s one of the better golfers in the field. He finished runner-up last week at Corales, and at this price, we’re getting a great value on a guy who’s finished top 20 in three out of five European events this year.
Adam Schenk ($8,200) – He hasn’t played well here, but this year, he’s been good with only two missed cuts in ten tournaments this season. Two weeks ago, he finished runner-up.
Recommended Lineup: Byeong Hun An, Nicolai Hojgaard, Adam Schenk, Matt Wallace, Ben Griffin, and Matt Kuchar
2023 Valero Texas Open Best Bet
Tyrell Hatton Will Miss The Cut (+350) – Wrist issues and being locked into the Masters are two gigantic red flags for Hatton this week. Add to that, he’s never played here, and I have no idea why Hatton would have a shred of motivation, especially if he gets off to a slow start. If his wrist starts acting up, I could see him pulling out of the tournament at some point as well. A withdrawal is a potential outcome, and if the wrist is truly hurt, we could see him play as he did at the match play which will lead to a certainly missed cut this week.