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Valero Texas Open picks 2024: Why Ludvig Aberg's game is a perfect fit at TPC San Antonio

golfdigest.com 3 days ago

We'll see if we can go for the Texas double this week, as the tour heads from Houston to San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open. No Scheffler this week, though Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Fitzpatrick, Jordan Spieth, Ludvig Aberg, Collin Morikawa and Max Homa are all in the field. A pushover week, this is not. Plus, all those guys have to deal with the real elite player in this field—Corey Conners, who is looking to three-peat.

Our betting panel is comprised of a caddie reporting anonymously from the grounds of Memorial Park, Pat Mayo of Underdog/Mayo Media Network, Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel, Andy Lack of RunPureSports.com, your two authors and Keith Stewart, the CEO of Read The Line. Stewart, our newest member of the panel, is our new betting content partner as well. His insights will help our betting content immensely, though Mayo remains on a bit of a heater—hitting Knapp outright in Mexico and going on a 11-2-0 run on matchup bets thus far.

Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2024 Valero Open.

Valero Texas Open picks 2024: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Ludvig Aberg (12-1, FanDuel) — I love his game for TPC San Antonio—he drives it straighter and farther than most anyone else. And he’s coming off a good showing at The Players (eighth), which is a course you wouldn’t necessarily think fits his off-the-tee heavy game. Plus, the former Texas Tech golfer will be familiar with the Texas conditions here at TPC San Antonio.

Pat Mayo, Underdog/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Hideki Matsuyama (22-1, FanDuel) — Deki’s T-15 a year ago was 15 spots better than the T-30 from his debut at the Oaks course. Shave off another 15 spots or so and we got ourselves a winner. But seriously, whatever issue Matsuyama had with his driver a year ago has vanished, which has led to three consecutive top 10s, all in elevated events where he now sits top 10 in driving, approach and short game over the past 12 rounds. In that span, he’s averaging 0.33 strokes more than the next closest player in the field tee-to-green per round.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Collin Morikawa (30-1, FanDuel) — Morikawa’s odds are drifting (again) after two weak showings with irons and putting. However, he’s a top-10 iron player over the last 50 rounds on tour, via datagolf, and his putting splits from within 15 feet place him right around the Tour average. Driving isn’t crucial this week, so Morikawa gets bumped up.

Keith Stewart, Read The Line: Hideki Matsuyama (22-1, FanDuel) — Hideki Matsuyama’s short game is the reason he will win the Valero Texas Open. Matsuyama’s long game is what catches your attention, but his pitching motion is what won him a green jacket at Augusta. TPC San Antonio offers so many awkward short pitches and approaches. Fresh off a sixth at the Players, Hideki is one of just two or three players capable of winning the next TWO weeks. He's healthy and ranked first in the field strokes-gained/tee-to-green. In his two previous Valero starts (he WD’d in the third), he finished 15th and 30th.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Akshay Bhatia (65-1, FanDuel) — The 22-year-old is coming off his best approach week of his young PGA Tour career, gaining more than seven strokes on approach in Houston, per FantasyNational.com. He has also gained an average of 2.6 strokes/putting on the field the past two starts on similar green surfaces. What we also know is eight of the past 11 winners of the event before the Masters has won the preceding week. Bhatia isn’t in the Masters at the moment—and if he brings that level of ball-striking from Houston over to San Antonio, he might be headed to Augusta.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (55-1, FanDuel) — Going back to the Fall, Bezuidenhout now has four top-13 finishes in his last 11 events. Along the way he’s been an elite approach player and his putting and chipping have been consistently strong, as always. With driver not being a key factor in winning this week (Bez is one of the shorter hitters on tour), I like the South African’s chances to contend and make a serious run at a last-minute Masters invite.

Andy Lack, Run Pure Sports and Inside Golf podcast: Ludvig Aberg (12-1, DraftKings) — This will be Ludvig Aberg’s first return to Texas, where he played his collegiate golf, as a professional, and I expect the young Swede to be comfortable on a big golf course in swirling winds. Aberg is coming off a dominant ball-striking performance at the Players Championship, where he gained four strokes off-the-tee and 5.8 strokes on approach, and his elite tee-to-green game should be accentuated once again at TPC San Antonio.

Past results: Ding, ding, we have another winner! Andy Lack grabs his first outright hit of the season with his correct prediction of Stephan Jaeger to win the Houston Open at 50-1. Odds-wise, that’s our biggest hit this year. It’s our third total outright winner pick, with our anonymous caddie hitting on Scottie Scheffler (+550) at the Players Championship and Pat Mayo nailing Jake Knapp’s win at the Mexico Open (40-1).

Valero Texas Open picks 2024: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Akshay Bhatia (65-1, FanDuel) — Akshay held the led last week in Houston before finishing T-11. He’s had a bit of an odd season with four missed cuts and five top 17s. When he’s on, he can compete with anyone on tour.

Mayo: Akshay Bhatia (65-1, FanDuel) — Maybe I should just limit Akshay to a top-20 bet since he’s finished inside the top 20 every time he’s made the cut this year. I’m choosing to see this as trending to win, though. He’s been rolling it fantastically on these overseeded greens lately, and his approach play is finally rising again. After dropping 2.2 strokes in Round 1 at the Valspar, he’s now gained in each of his past seven rounds. And you never worry about his driver. He hasn’t dropped strokes to the field off-the-tee since last year at Quail Hollow. His chipping has limited his overall upside to date, but if he’s going to win at the Oaks course, it’s because he’s hitting GIRs and not having to worry about that.

Gdula: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (55-1, FanDuel) — TPC San Antonio is a course where driving stats aren’t the most vital. Removing off-the-tee play from strokes-gained (i.e. combined strokes-gained/ approach, /around-the-green, and /putting) from the equation, Bezuidenhout leads this field over the last 50 rounds. Specifically, he’s first in SG/approach in that span.

Stewart: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (55-1, FanDuel) — It takes an elite wedge game from 100 yards and in to win the Valero Texas Open. Christiaan Bezuidenhout is the third-best scoring wedge player behind Ludvig Åberg and Joel Dahmen. Bezuidenhout compliments that short-range skill with an excellent putter. Sixth on approach and second in par-4 scoring, Christiaan can do more than contend on The Oaks course. Just in case you think he needs a little extra motivation, C-Bez needs a win to gain an invitation to the Masters.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Lucas Glover (90-1, FanDuel) — Just a few months ago, people were arguing that Glover should be on the Ryder Cup team. At these odds, he’s worth a bet. He’s 10th in SG/approach over the past six months and ranks top 10 in SG/around the green and approach prowess from 200-plus yards over a longer sample size, per BetSperts.com. If we get a slightly positive putting week from The Glove, he’s live.

Powers, Golf Digest: Davis Thompson (75-1, DraftKings) — A cold putter bogged Davey T down on the Florida swing. He finally got that club figured out last week and just missed cracking the top 20 in Houston. Considering he hasn’t really even sniffed contention since that runner-up at the AMEX in 2023, it feels foolish to keep going back to this well, but I’m willing to keep betting on his upside.

Lack: Maverick McNealy (50-1, DraftKings) — Maverick McNealy is quietly playing some great golf in 2024, and he has now recorded top-10 finishes at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Players Championship, both courses with similar agronomy to TPC San Antonio. McNealy remains one of the best putters in this field on over-seeded Bermuda, and his driving ability should yield him a major edge this week as well.

Valero Texas Open picks 2024: Players We’re Fading

Caddie: Max Homa (22-1, DraftKings) — Had a disappointing T-64 in his last start out at The Players. It’s the first time he’s played San Antonio since 2019, when he had a T-42.

Mayo: Jordan Spieth (20-1, DraftKings) — In events where he hasn’t gained at least five strokes putting in 2024 his best finish is T-30. And even if he does gain that much this week on the greens, his iron play has been so bad all those putts are going to be par saves.

Gdula: Matt Fitzpatrick (25-1, FanDuel) — Fitzpatrick hasn’t played TPC San Antonio before, and while he could be a good fit, his irons lag behind the other favorites this week. I don’t even dislike Fitz this week but would rather go in other directions at 25-1 or shorter.

Stewart: Jordan Spieth (20-1, DraftKings) — Jordan Spieth has just two wins on the PGA Tour in seven years. He missed the cut at the Players and Valspar. Spieth has one top 10 in a full-field event since last year in San Antonio. We know he excels at Augusta National, but I believe he will be working through his approach issues leading up to the first major of the season. Next week is way more important and that’s why we might even see Spieth leave Friday for the third start in a row.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Billy Horschel (33-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Billy has had some great finishes over the past month, but in this more elite field, it’s a little jarring to see a 33-1 next to his name. I will gladly tip my cap to Billy Ho beating me, but I won’t be part of the party.

Powers, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (+900, DraftKings) — While he did seem to turn a corner at the Players, this is merely a tune-up start for next week.

Lack: Max Homa (22-1, DraftKings) — Something has looked off with Max Homa all season, and the numbers back that up as well. Homa is coming off a 64th-place finish at the Players where he lost over four strokes off-the-tee, and he has also lost strokes on approach in five of seven starts this year. With zero top-40 finishes in three starts at TPC San Antonio, and zero appearances since 2019, I’m not sure this is the get right spot we should feel comfortable with.

Valero Texas Open picks 2024: Matchups

Caddie: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-120) over Adam Scott (DraftKings) — Christiaan delivers solid performances week in and week out. I’ll take him over Adam Scott, who will have his eyes set on next week.

Mayo: Harris English (+100) over Matt Fitzpatrick (DraftKings) — The king of consistency vs Mr. Inconsistent. Fitz probably wins the tournament more times than English if we ran this 1000 times, but English beats him head-to-head far more than half the time.

Gdula: Andrew Putnam (-120) over K.H. Lee (FanDuel) — Putnam isn’t a great driver, and that’s fine for this week. He has a big edge on Lee here in recent and long-term iron play as well as putting.

Stewart: Hideki Matsuyama (-110) over Jordan Spieth (BetMGM) — Jordan Spieth has lost significant strokes on approach in six of his last nine starts. I documented it above, but Spieth needs to get back to Augusta. That’s the only place he seems to shine lately. Hideki Matsuyama won the Genesis, finished 12th at API and sixth at the Players. Matsuyama is gaining six strokes tee-to-green over his last five. Spieth has lost strokes tee-to-green in his last three starts. On a course that requires solid ball-striking take the player who is simply hitting it better.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Lucas Glover (-110) over Tom Kim (DraftKings) — It’s been a strange couple of starts in a row for Tom Kim, WDing after eight holes at The Players and then WDing from the Valspar. It’s clear he’s taking a cautious approach heading into the Masters, whereas Glover is amid a killer ball-striking run.

Powers, Golf Digest: Hideki Matsuyama (-110) over Jordan Spieth (DraftKings) — Stealing this one from Keith because it almost seems too easy. One guy (Matsuyama) is playing some of the best golf of his life, while the other (Spieth) looks completely lost right now.

Lack: Corey Conners (-120) over Max Homa (DraftKings) — This is an easy one, as I’m getting two-time Valero Texas Open winner over my fade of the week. Something about TPC San Antonio just seems to fit Conners’ eye, as he has gained over nine strokes on approach in both of two wins. He enters this week in arguably better form than each of his prior two wins as well, gaining over 3.5 strokes ball-striking in five straight starts. Homa, on the other hand, has been relying far more on the strength of his putter, and failing to garner any form of consistency.

Matchup Results from the Houston Open: Mayo: 1 for 1 (Detry (+100) over D. Thompson); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Finau (-110) over S.W. Kim); Lack: 1 for 1 (Jaeger (-130) over Knapp); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Griffin (-115) over Novak); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Hughes (-110) over Hossler); Powers: 0 for 1; Stewart: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 11-2-0 (up 8.74 units); Caddie: 8-4-0 (up 2.74 units); Lack 8-5-0 (up 2.4 units); Gdula: 7-4-2 (up 2.17 units); Hennessey: 6-4-3 (up 1.17 units); Powers: 6-6-1 (down 0.03 units); Stewart: 6-7-0 (down 1.46 units)

Valero Texas Open picks 2024: Top 10s

Caddie: Corey Conners (+300, Bet365) — Corey’s lone two wins on Tour have come at this tournament (‘19 & ‘23). He’s made every cut this season and will get a top 10 this week at presumably his favorite venue.

Mayo: Harris English (+360, DraftKings) — No one thing sticks out about English’s recent play outside of consistency. After some irons struggles to begin 2024, he has now gained strokes in three straight—and they were all elevated events. He’s gained at least 1.5 off the tee in six of eight starts, around the green in six straight and on the greens in three of four. While the field is stronger than normal compared to the past few Texas Opens, English’s steady hand is exactly the type of effort that can knock of the favorites in San Antonio.

Gdula: Mark Hubbard (+850, FanDuel) — With my angle of downplaying driving stats this week, Hubbard gets a boost. He’s a top-15 iron player in the field and has good putting splits.

Stewart: Corey Conners (+300, Bet365) — Let’s not overthink this. In five trips to the Valero, Corey Conners has finished 26th, first, 14th, 35th and first. Two wins in four years. Not even Charley Hoffman comes close to Conners strokes-gained history in this event. Corey just finished top 20 on two very difficult courses with elite fields in attendance. Eighteenth at API and thirteenth at the Players tells me the strokes-gained sheriff of TPC San Antonio is ready for another strong week on The Oaks course.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+500, Bet365) — I’m with Gdula, CP and Keith liking C-Bez this week, given he’s fourth in this field in SG/approach over the past six months, per BetSperts.com. If he keeps the big misses in play, he’s live this week.

Powers, Golf Digest: Corey Conners (+300, Bet365) — Don’t be the guy kicking yourself on Sunday when Corey Conners is winning again and you say “man, that was a lock.” Now that I’ve said this, of course, he will likely finish in a distant T-36th, but I’ll never deny a true horse for the course.

Lack: K.H. Lee (+700, DraftKings) — Coming off a 31st-place finish at the Houston Open where he gained strokes in all three tee-to-green categories, K.H. Lee now returns to another TPC course in Texas where he should be more than comfortable. Outside of his two victories at TPC Craig Ranch, Lee also has recorded a 14th and 23rd in two of his three appearances at TPC San Antonio. With two top 10s in his last four starts, I love the upside that Lee provides in this market.

Top-10 results from the Houston Open: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Stephan Jaeger +425); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Tony Finau +250); Powers: 1 for 1 (Tony Finau +250); Everybody else: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Mayo: 3 for 13 (up 3 units); Hennessey: 3 for 13 (up 2.25 units); Caddie: 3 for 13 (up 1.5 units); Lack: 3 for 13 (down 1.2 units); Gdula: 2 for 13 (down 2.5 units); Powers: 2 for 13 (down 6.6 units); Stewart: 1 for 13 (down 8.67 units)

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME. 

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for numberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13. 

Keith Stewart is a five-time award-winning PGA professional, a betting contributor for Golf Digest and founder of Read The Line, the premier on-site live golf betting insights service covering the LPGA and PGA TOUR. Subscribe to Read The Line’s weekly newsletter here and raise your golf betting acumen. Keith's winning content can also be found on Sports Grid, Bleacher Report and The Sporting News. Follow him on Twitter @readtheline_.

Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also the head of golf content for Run Pure Sports, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for RickRunGood.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports 

 
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