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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Valero Texas Open

Hello and welcome back RotoBallers! The 'Kiz' was lit at Austin Country Club, as Kevin Kisner took down the WGC-Dell Match Play. Kisner is proving to be a real bulldog in match play formats and last week's win was a very impressive follow up to a runner-up finish in the event last year. The WGC-Match Play isn't my favorite event from a DFS standpoint, but it was definitely worth keeping an eye on, as it marked the last time we'll see lots of these guys before the Masters. There was some interesting takeaways from Austin, as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both head to Augusta looking great, while some players like Brooks Koepka and Jason Day had performances that are slightly concerning.

This week we gear up for the Valero Texas Open - not to be confused with the Houston Open that has been played the week before the Masters in recent years - and its new spot on the 2019 schedule. The Valero is in San Antonio and this will be the last tournament held before the Masters. It's easy to catch yourself peeking ahead to Augusta National this week and that's totally understandable, as this Valero field isn't exactly star-studded. We do have some big names in the field - Jordan Spieth is definitely a player I'm interested in keeping an eye on this week - with Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, and Matt Kuchar all scheduled to tee it up alongside defending champion Andrew Landry, but the tournament does lack a bit of depth as we go down the DFS salary scale.

This won't exactly be an 'easy warmup' for Augusta National, as TPC San Antonio has some teeth and regularly grades out as one of the tougher tests on the PGA Tour schedule. We must also take into consideration a player's motivation this week. Are they trying to play their way into the Masters or simply tuning up their game in preparation for the first major of the season? Miracles do happen, as we saw Ian Poulter earn a Masters victory with a win at Houston last year. It's an interesting tournament and one I'm ready to dive into.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots.  Sign Up Now!

I try to make HFTC more than just a "picks" column (though you can certainly use it that way if you are in a hurry) by digging deep into each highlighted player. Obviously, our weekly jumping off point is a player's course history, but there isn't a firm set of rules when it comes to who is featured in this article. My goal is to help you succeed as a PGA DFS player. Period. I will touch on different GPP and cash-game strategies throughout the column each week and hopefully have some useful info for both beginners and experienced DFS players. Thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller, let's tee it up!

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks)

Par 72 - 7,435 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

Opened in 2010, this Greg Norman design (with an assist from Sergio Garcia) immediately found its way into the PGA Tour rotation and has hosted this event since it opened. Norman incorporated the natural terrain to create a layout that's long and tough. It's length definitely gives a bump to the bombers, though we have seen precise ball strikers be able to compete here. The Par-5's are no picnic, as all four play almost 600 yards and don't yield the amount of birdies and eagles that we normally see on the Tour. The wind is always a huge factor at TPC San Antonio, just as Norman intended with his design. It's somewhat of a fool's errand trying to predict the weather, especially wind, but it's worth keeping an eye on the forecast for any possible tee-time draw advantage. It'sI will definitely give a bump to driving distance and total driving this week, while also giving ball striking and approach play its due.


The Horse

Jason Kokrak (DK - $9,400 & FD - $11,200)

Notable Course History: T36 (2018), T67 ('17), M/C ('16), T11 ('15)
Recent Form: T2 (Valspar), T47 (The Players), T10 (API), T9 (Honda)

You guys that read this article regularly might be sick of seeing Jason Kokrak's name here, but if you've been rostering him on a regular basis your profits should help to ease the pain. Everyone seems to keep waiting on the Kokrak bubble to bust (and it probably will at some point), but if we look at how Kokrak has been racking up strong finishes, there's really no reason to think his output isn't sustainable, at least for the moment.

Kokrak hasn't been blessed with a ridiculously hot putter, the marker that we usually peg for unsustainable output. He's actually ran rather cold on the greens and has gained strokes putting in just one of his last five starts (5.5 SG: Putting at Valspar). Kokrak is performing in a manner that DFS-ers drool over...very strong from tee to green, with excellent ball striking and approach measurables. He ranks first in this Valero field in all three of those categories (SG: T2G, SG: Ball Striking, & SG: Approach) over his last 24 rounds and also stands a strong seventh in SG: Off the Tee over the same measured rounds.

Kokrak's course history at TPC San Antonio is surprisingly mediocre. On paper, his game is suited perfectly for this long track, but his best Valero finish was a T11 in 2015. He has been a reliable cut-maker here and has made four of his last five cuts in San Antonio.

I really wish Kokrak was priced up even more on DK, as I expect him to garner tons of ownership at just $9.4k. He was around 30% owned for the Valspar and I look for him to be extremely popular again this week at a DK price that's probably a bit too cheap when considering his recent form.


The Ponies

Tony Finau (DK - $10,800 & FD - $12,000)

Notable Course History: T3 ('17), T68 ('15)
Recent Form: T22 (The Players), T25 (WGC-Mexico), T15 (Genesis), T38 (AT&T)

Does anybody remember this guy? After spending the last two years as a DFS darling, Tony Finau has been really quiet in 2019. While he's been well known to those of us in the DFS community for years, Finau gained some notoriety among casual golf fans with his play last season. We became accustomed to seeing consistent top-five and top-10 finishes from Finau in 2018, but those types of outings have yet to materialize this year.

Finau hasn't been bad by any stretch, he just hasn't played at the level we expected after his breakout 2018. He logged top-15's at the Farmers and Genesis, as well as top-25's at the WGC-Mexico and Players Finau has been around, just slightly out of sight. He lacks a lengthy track record at TPC San Antonio, but a T3 in one of his two Valero starts confirms that this course is a great fit for him.

Finau is one of the most prolific drivers of the ball on the PGA Tour. He has drove it well this year and stands fourth in the Valero field in SG: Off the Tee over his last 24 rounds and first in the field when going back 50 rounds. He's been very solid from tee to green, ranking eighth in the field in SG: T2G and sixth in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds. Where Finau has really struggled this year is around the greens, an area where he showed massive improvement in 2018. He ranks just 93rd in the field in SG: Around the Green and has lost strokes in that area in his last three starts.

Finau has been a popular DFS option for a couple of years, but we've seen his ownership levels dropping as this season progresses. It will be interesting to see if people jump back on him in this somewhat watered-down field at $10.8k. I like him in GPPs and I'm looking for a breakout performance from Finau this week.


Jim Furyk (DK - $9,600 & FD - $10,900)

Notable Course History: T26 ('18), T58 ('15), T6 ('14)
Recent Form: T18 (Valspar), 2nd (The Players), T9 (Honda), T37 (Genesis), T14 (AT&T)

Like Jason Kokrak, Jim Furyk has been mentioned here several times recently. And like Kokrak, Furyk just continues to produce. It's getting to the point where you are fading the veteran at your own peril. Even with his amazing stretch of play, Furyk's average DK ownership hasn't exceeded 15% in GPPs over the past month. Maybe folks are scared the 48-year-old will run out of gas or something?

Furyk is keeping the pedal to the medal and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down this season. He looked feisty at the WGC-Match Play last week and you know that Furyk is desperately trying to get into the Masters, which he can do with a win, so he has plenty of motivation this week in San Antonio. A T6 back in 2014 and a T26 last year (when he wasn't playing his best golf), show that he can handle this long layout. We have to love the current form - he's first in this field in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds - and the stability that he brings to lineups in any formats. We know what we're getting with Furyk...fairways and greens. He's first in the field in Fairways Gained and second in the field in Greens Gained over his last 24 rounds.

He's a grinder and, honestly, not a real exciting player to roster, but he's consistently offered solid returns this season. If you want to lean towards a balanced build, Furyk (or Jason Kokrak) is a great place to start your roster construction this week.


Byeong Hun An (DK - $9,200 & FD - $10,200)

Notable Course History: T40 ('17)
Recent Form: T26 (The Players) T10 (API), T36 (Honda), T45 (WGC-Mexico)

We're veering a bit off the course-history path with Byeong Hun An, but if we're looking for ball strikers this week, 'Benny' definitely deserves a mention in this article. An has been striping the ball as of late, averaging 3.23 SG: Approach and 3.66 SG: Off the Tee over his last three stroke-play tournament starts.

An stacks up well against anyone in the Valero field when it comes to his recent ball striking prowess. He grades out second in this field in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds and sixth in SG: Ball Striking. As with most players that aren't considered elite, there is a drawback with An. He stands an abysmal 141st in the Valero field in SG: Putting over his last 24 rounds. While I'm always willing to overlook bad putting to an extent, Benny is really struggling on the greens. But...he logged a T10 at the API and a T26 at The Players against elite fields while losing over 1.5 strokes putting in each event. If we can catch just a not terrible putting week from An in San Antonio, he should find himself in contention.

An rounds out what I feel is a very strong $9k price range on DK. You can very easily get two players from this range in roster builds this week and can even squeeze in three if there are some value plays that you feel comfortable leaning on. An's putting troubles do put him in the 'GPP Only' category for me, but I really like the upside that comes with his current ball striking.


Aaron Baddeley (DK - $8,300 & FD - $9,600)

Notable Course History: T16 ('18), T5 ('17), T29 ('16), T20 ('15)
Recent Form: T7 (Corales), M/C (The Players), T17 (API), T2 (Puerto Rico), T49 (Genesis)

Aaron Baddeley is sorta the anti-Benny An. He's a terrific putter and has an extensive track record of solid play at TPC San Antonio. Some of you might not remember, but 'Badds' was once upon a time the 'next big thing' in golf. The Aussie hasn't reached the superstar status that many expected, but Baddeley has grinded out a very respectable career for himself on the PGA Tour.

He's not the type of player that I normally feature in HFTC, but Baddeley is trending a bit right now. He logged a T7 at Corales last week, was in the weekend mix at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and very nearly had a victory at the Puerto Rico Open a little over a month ago. Obviously, this field is stronger than the ones he faced in the Dominican and Puerto Rico, but good play often leads to more good play. Baddeley should also feel confident at TPC San Antonio, as he's ran off five consecutive made cuts here since 2014, with a top-five and two top-20's over the course of that stretch.

We've mentioned that this track favors ball strikers, which Baddeley most certainly isn't, but the Aussie's impeccable short game and ability to play in the wind has always served him well at TPC San Antonio. It's not often that I'm willing to compromise in the type of player I'm targeting, but in a week that players priced similarly to Baddeley (Charley Hoffman, Luke List, & Ryan Palmer) will soak up some ownership, I feel like he's a nice GPP contrarian option that most people won't be willing to pay $8.4k for.


Dylan Frittelli (DK - $7,300 & FD - $9,300)

Notable Course History: T20 ('18)
Recent Form: T18 (Corales), T37 (Valspar), M/C (Honda), T28 (Genesis)

Even if we prefer solid lineup builds this week, we have to venture down the salary scale at some point. Dylan Frittelli is a nice option at the lower end of the $7k price range on DK. The 28-year-old played his college golf at the University of Texas and looked very comfortable on the way to a T20 in his Valero debut last season. The South African was a very accomplished amateur golfer and made his bones on the European Tour, where he won twice in 2017. His transition to the PGA Tour last year came with some growing pains, but he has settled in nicely this season with seven made cuts in 10 starts and two top-25's.

Frittelli fits the profile of what we are looking for this week. He stands ninth in the field in SG: Off the Tee over his last 24 rounds. He's a solid ball striker and ranks 19th in the field in SG: Ball Striking and 18th in SG: T2G. He's a great salary saver on both sites for Valero and doesn't have a lot of holes in his game other than being slightly shaky around the green. He's borderline cash-game playable in this field and can really round out GPP lineups when your looking for a sixth man.

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