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Valero Texas Open DFS picks 2024: Why Rory McIlroy is a hard pass for me

April 01, 2024
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MARCH 15: PGA golfer Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during The Players Championship on March 15, 2024, at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The PGA Tour makes one more stop at the Valero Texas Open before the first major of the year. While many golf fans will be eagerly awaiting that first tee ball on Masters Thursday morning, there is still plenty of opportunity to be had this week in San Antonio. The Valero Texas Open is one of the longest-running tournaments on the PGA Tour, dating all the way back to 1922, and it has been played in the greater San Antonio area since its inception. While it has moved around venues and schedule spots multiple times, we have been coming to the Greg Norman-designed TPC San Antonio since 2009, and the event has been played the week before the Masters since 2019.

This will be our final look at some of the PGA Tour’s best players before next week’s festivities, and all eyes will be on big names such as Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, who enter this week with significant questions ahead of the season’s first major. Corey Conners will return to defend his title, and outside of Spieth and McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Matt Fitzpatrick, Ludvig Aberg, Max Homa and Brian Harman will be making their final tune-up before their trip down Magnolia Lane. Let’s dive into the slate.

The Best and Worst Value Bets for the 2024 Valero Texas Open

$10,000 range

Play: Ludvig Aberg, $10,500:

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David Cannon

With each week, Ludvig Aberg feels closer to an inevitable breakthrough. Coming off an eighth-place finish at the Players Championship, where he gained four strokes off the tee and 5.8 strokes on approach, Aberg now returns to Texas for the first time as a professional golfer. While many of the elite players in this field are in a classic lookahead spot with the Masters on the horizon, the former Texas Tech star has never even played in a major before, and should be far more focused on the present. From a course-fit standpoint, TPC San Antonio should perfectly accentuate Aberg’s elite ball-striking ability and par-5 scoring prowess.

Fade: Rory McIlroy, $12,300:

While Rory McIlroy has played well the week before a major in the past, I still have a difficult time justifying such a robust price tag on a player with so many question marks. McIlroy has yet to record a top-15 on the PGA Tour this season, has the biggest week of the year on the horizon and is priced in an entirely different tier than Hideki Matsuyama and Ludvig Aberg, despite both beating McIlroy in three of their past four events. I hope to see McIlroy round into form before the Masters, but his price tag is entirely unreasonable in this spot.

$9,000 range

Play: Corey Conners, $9,400:

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Kevin C. Cox

Given his success at TPC San Antonio, I’m surprised that Corey Conners is priced this cheap. The two-time Valero Texas Open winner is in the midst of an incredible ball-striking run, and he is coming off a 13th-place finish at the Players Championship, where he gained over three strokes off the tee and over three strokes on approach. The Canadian has now gained over 3.5 strokes ball-striking in five straight starts and enters this week as a top-three iron player in this entire field. No need to overthink this one.

Fade: Byeong Hun An, $9,000:

While Byeong Hun An has played some great golf at TPC San Antonio in the past, I have a hard time getting behind this price increase. An is coming off a bad missed cut at the Players Championship, where he lost over five strokes on approach, and he remains one of the worst Bermuda over-seeded putters in this field over the past two years. Even in An’s success at TPC San Antonio, he has still never gained strokes putting at this course, and the flatstick still evokes too much volatility for me to feel good about this price tag.

$8,000 range

Play: Alex Noren, $8,700:

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Raj Mehta

Coming off three top-20 finishes in a row, Alex Noren is playing some incredible golf right now, and I’m fairly surprised that he is priced this low. The Swede shot up the leaderboard on Sunday again at the Houston Open, gaining strokes in all four categories and consistently improving his ball-striking as the tournament progressed. Now he returns to a track where he finished 15th in his lone appearance, gaining over three strokes on approach in the process.

Fade: Tom Kim, $8,100:

Whether it’s the Netflix curse or the injury bug, something is just not right with Tom Kim. After WDs t the Valspar and The Players (after only eight holes), Kim is hoping to complete his first tournament since the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he lost over 4.5 strokes off the tee. Maybe the three-time PGA Tour winner is healthy again, but TPC San Antonio is too demanding of a ball-striking test to be the soft landing that those rostering Kim are hoping for.

TPC San Antonio Oaks Course
Private
TPC San Antonio Oaks Course
San Antonio, TX
3
55 Panelists
TPC San Antonio’s Oaks course has hosted the Valero Texas Open since 2010. Playing through the dry outlands north of the city, the Greg Norman design is one of the most strategically compelling courses on tour with aggressive bunkering, some wonderful short par 4s and several uniquely demanding par 5s, including the 18th, one of the most underrated and frustrating closing holes the professionals play. --Derek Duncan, architecture editor
Explore our full review

$7,000 range

Play: Maverick McNealy, $7,400:

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Icon Sportswire

Coming off a significant injury last year, Maverick McNealy is starting to round back into form and has already put up some impressive results to start the season. The former Stanford standout has already recorded top-10 finishes at TPC Scottsdale and TPC Sawgrass, both over-seeded golf courses, and McNealy remains one of the best putters in this field on that surface. The California native is already driving the ball incredibly well this season, and if we can just get his irons to cooperate, McNealy will be a key piece in some very profitable lineups this week.

Fade: Denny McCarthy, $7,500:

While Denny McCarthy is always liable to putt his way into contention, I have serious concerns about his ball-striking. McCarthy has lost strokes on approach in four straight starts, and he has lost strokes off the tee in four of his last five starts. For what it’s worth, the 31-year-old hasn’t even been putting to his normal standards of late, and there are simply far more reliable options in this tier.

$6,000 range

Play: Andrew Novak, $6,500:

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David Cannon

While last week may have served as a heat check, Andrew Novak is still playing some tremendous golf this season, and he now returns to a golf course where he finished ninth in his most recent appearance. We’ll be hard-pressed to find a player in the $6,000 range that is hitting the ball as well as Novak right now, as the North Carolina native has gained over three strokes ball-striking in five of his last six starts. This price tag is a gift for DFS players this week.

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 a data analyst and writer 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