Valero Texas Open picks 2023: Why this young emerging star has serious value
The true golf bettor won’t take this week off. You might say you’re going to keep a light card heading into the Masters, but consider three of the past four winners of the Valero Texas Open have all been extreme longshots. Per Golf Betting System, J.J. Spaun, Corey Conners and Andrew Landry all had odds in the 200-1 range when they earned their titles. Tell us you’re going to turn down some of that value with a straight face…
Our Golf Digest betting panel isn’t quite backing anyone in the high triple-digits on the odds board this week, but we are finding some serious value in the mid-range. The experts, which include an anonymous caddie reporting from TPC San Antonio, Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network/DraftKings, Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman and Andy Lack of RickRunGood.com and these writers, are looking for a fifth outright winner of the season.
Below are our picks for the 2023 Valero Texas Open—and scroll down for our analysis.
Valero Texas Open picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Matt Wallace (48-1, FanDuel) — The Englishman’s win last week wasn’t exactly out of nowhere. He’s been playing solid golf over the past six months. When he’s at the top of his game, he’s a viable Ryder Cup candidate for the European side—and a victory in back-to-back weeks will cement that status for him … plus a bonus Masters invitation.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Ryan Fox (40-1, DraftKings) — Fox has churned out top-30 finishes in each of his two PGA Tour starts in 2023, both elevated events. Couple that with his three straight top 20s on the DP World Tour before clearing customs, and you have a string of excellent form. He’ll be one of the longer players in the field, which, along with his precision from 125 yards and in, plus experience in the wind, make Fox one of the clear favorites in San Antonio.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Taylor Montgomery (27-1, FanDuel) — Montgomery’s putter is consistently one of the best in the field each and every week, and he has good driving stats to get him going on each hole. He does rate out as a subpar iron player, yet this week is about getting up and down as much as it is going deep, so he makes sense as a breakthrough winner.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Thomas Detry (45-1, DraftKings) — Detry has been quietly going about his business this season, missing just one cut in his past 17 starts. During that run, he has nine top-30 finishes—highlighted by his T-8 last week at the Corales Puntacana Championship. He’s a well-rounded player who has been flashing upside recently. Now he gets a weak field and a number that is much too long for his skill-set.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Si Woo Kim (22-1, DraftKings) — Si Woo’s ceiling is as high as any golfer in this field right now. In his last eight events, he’s spiked and gained more than seven strokes on approach in three of those tournaments. Now he comes to a place where he’s had success, so it would not be a surprise if Si Woo adds a second win in 2023.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Hideki Matsuyama (22-1, FanDuel) — It’s possible Matsuyama’s neck is seriously hurt, but it’s also possible that the thought of beating Max Homa last Friday, which would have led to a playoff, which could have led to a potentially grueling 90-hole weekend were Matsuyama to continue to advance, was simply not worth it in his mind, especially with the Masters on the horizon. I’m betting on the upside we’ve already seen from him this year (fifth at Players, ninth at Torrey) at a great number against a weak field and taking my chances on a potential WD.
Andy Lack, RickRunGood.com and Inside Golf podcast: Davis Riley (28-1, BetMGM) — Davis Riley has done just about everything but claim victory at the PGA Tour level, and he finally finds himself in a weak enough field that should be prime for the taking. Prior to a group-stage exit at the WGC Match Play, Riley finished top 20 at both the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational, both longer Bermuda courses that place an emphasis on mid to long iron play and keeping the ball in play off the tee. The University of Alabama alumnus remains one of the best overall iron players in this field and checks nearly every box I am looking for this week from a statistical standpoint. The 27-year-old finally has the putter going and is trending in the right direction in all the categories I am focusing on this week.
Past results: Since Christopher Powers hit on Chris Kirk at 30-1 to win the Honda Classic, the panel has yet to strike gold again. But with four outright hits on the season so far (Brandon Gdula on Scottie Scheffler at 13-1 to win the WMPO; Rick Gehman on Jon Rahm at +750 to win the Genesis; Stephen Hennessey and Gdula on Tony Finau at 16-1 to win the Houston Open) we’re confident a fifth is coming soon. Let’s make it this week at the Valero Texas Open.
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Valero Texas Open picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Nicolai Hojgaard (50-1, PointsBet) — I’m not sure if American golf fans know how good the Hojgaard twins are. His runner-up last week won’t really be on the radar of casual fans, either—so you can still get some value on this kid whose talent is up near the top of this field.
Mayo: Garrick Higgo (90-1, DraftKings) — The driver runs hot and cold and the putter is mostly frigid, but Higgo continues hitting GIRs at one of the highest rates in the field, and when he misses, he’s going to be one of the better around-the-green players in attendance. The South African has wins in weak-field birdie fests on the DP World Tour, and claimed victory against a similar weak field, difficult scoring PGA event at the Palmetto.
Gdula: Robby Shelton (90-1, FanDuel) — Shelton is available at a good number on FanDuel Sportsbook at 90-1. He’s a good iron and wedge player, which I say to gloss over poor stats with the driver and putter. That being said, driver isn’t vital this week, and putting can warm up for him the same as anyone as we’ve seen over the past year.
Gehman: Garrick Higgo (90-1, DraftKings) — From this far down the board, I want volatility and that’s exactly what Higgo offers. His last 100 rounds are a disaster but his last 30 are much improved. In fact, he’s the 20th-best player in this field over the last 30 but he has the 40th-shortest odds. He’s gained strokes from tee-to-green in five straight events and he’s a good putting week away from contending.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Alex Smalley (75-1, DraftKings) — To me, Smalley delivers the best combination of off-the-tee and approach numbers at the best price. He’s ninth in this field over the past 36 rounds tee to green, per Fantasy National, and he’s also a slight positive around the greens. If we can just not hemorrhage strokes on the greens, this could be live … and hey, Corey Conners won this event before, so there’s good news for bad putters!
Powers, Golf Digest: Patton Kizzire (100-1, FanDuel) — Kizzire ball struck his way to a ninth here in 2021, and he appears to be hitting the ball like that again of late, gaining on approach in three of his past four starts, the last of which was a top 10 at Valspar. His putter has been cooking, too, and he finally seemed to figure out something with the driver at Innisbrook.
Lack: Robby Shelton (90-1, FanDuel) — Robby Shelton possesses the rare combination of a downright elite short game and approach play. The 27-year-old is the only player in this field to rank top 10 in overall iron play, overall short game, mid- to long-iron play and sand-save percentage. I love capitalizing on the value of players who are coming off a missed cut after gaining strokes in both ball-striking categories, and that was the case with Robby Shelton at the Valspar. His ball-striking actually improved in both categories, yet we are still able to catch a big number on a largely unproven talent.
Valero Texas Open picks 2023: Players We’re Fading
Caddie: Hideki Matsuyama (22-1, DraftKings) — There’s not much positive coming out of Hideki’s camp right now. All eyes will be on the Masters next week, too.
Mayo: Hideki Matsuyama (22-1, DraftKings) — Look, if they wanted to price him as the 15th favorite because of the injury, then, sure, I could be in on that. That’s not the case however. There are better odds on a WD than a win from Hideki this week.
Gdula: Davis Riley (24-1, FanDuel) — Riley is an interesting up-and-comer but is being valued in the same range as golfers with much better long-term and even short-term data. He’s consistently losing strokes around the green, which is a key stat this week, too.
Gehman: Corey Conners (22-1, DraftKings) — Conners almost certainly is going to finish inside the top 20, but will he win? That seems unlikely. His Monday qualification-turned victory at this event in 2019 was incredible but still remains his only victory. His ball-striking has been erratic compared to his baseline and his putter is always a liability. He’s a top-20 machine but doesn’t seem to possess the true winning upside that we would like to see when clicking his name for an outright.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Matt Kuchar (25-1, BetRivers) — Yes, Kuch is playing some nice stuff right now, but sub-30-1 Matt Kuchar in 2023? That’s a hard pass.
Powers, Taylor Montgomery (27-1, FanDuel) — Montgomery was right there at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday before a disastrous finish saw him fall from sixth place to 44th. He’s probably itching to get back in the mix after that, but, like Andy points out below, it’s going to be tough to keep putting the lights out. He gained over eight strokes on the greens at the Players and still couldn’t even cash in on a top 10.
Lack: Taylor Montgomery (27-1, FanDuel) — My numbers continue to suggest that Taylor Montgomery is over-valued in the betting markets and is riding the coattails of an unsustainably hot putter. He ranks near the bottom of this field in overall approach play and good drive percentage, two essential components to finding success at TPC San Antonio. I will gladly pass on the rookie at this short of a number.
Valero Texas Open picks 2023: Matchups
Caddie: Nicolai Hojgaard (-115) over Alex Smalley (DraftKings) — Smalley is a nice player with some consistency in the U.S., but I’m always going to side with the talent and the elite upside here with the 22-year-old Danish star.
Mayo: Ryan Fox (-130) over Andrew Putnam (DraftKings) — Putnam was able to ride a hot putter to success in Austin, but the holes aren’t quite to attackable for his lack of distance at Valero. Tee-to-green Fox simply outclasses Putnam at a ball-striker’s course.
Gdula: Ryan Palmer (-116) over Emiliano Grillo (FanDuel) — Palmer has alternated horrible events with putting and chipping, but for Grillo, he’s consistently cold with the putter. They’re both good ball-strikers with Grillo holding an edge there, yet Palmer’s less awful short game has him rightfully favored in this matchup.
Gehman: Sam Ryder (-110) over Andrew Putnam (Bet365) — Do not be fooled by Putnam’s group win last week, he was one of the luckiest players in the field. He lost 5.08 strokes over four rounds but still found a way to advance to the Round of 16. That’s unsustainable and now he faces Ryder who has four top 20s in his last six starts. Ryder is building a higher floor than any other point in his career, which will be valuable this week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Thomas Detry (+100) over Brendon Todd (PointsBet) — Detry’s playing some really inspired golf right now, and he can surely taste a possible Masters invite with a win. This course should be perfect for him—his length will be rewarded, and he’s got an excellent short game. Todd is a great match-play play on a course where wedges are important … but good news: Detry’s also got sound wedge play to go with his distance.
Powers, Golf Digest: Thomas Detry (+100) over J.J. Spaun (DraftKings) — Seems like you’re paying a premium on Spaun here because he’s the defending champ. He could certainly rekindle that flame, but I wouldn’t bet on it. He’s lost strokes with his irons in every start he’s made since the Sony Open, resulting in four out of five MC hammers. Detry, meanwhile, has made 10 of 11 cuts this season with a runner-up finish and an eighth last week at Corales along the way.
Lack: Chris Kirk (-110) over Taylor Montgomery (DraftKings) — This is an easy one for me as it’s pairing a player with excellent course history and overall numbers against my top fade of the week. Not only does Chris Kirk have a much better track record around TPC San Antonio, but he rates out stronger than Montgomery in nearly every statistical category I am measuring this week.
Matchup Results from the WGC-Match Play: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Fox (-105) over English); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Day (-115) over Svensson); Powers: PUSH (Bradley (-120) over McCarthy); Mayo: 0 for 1; Gehman: 0 for 1; Hennessey: 0 for 1; Lack: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Gehman: 13-6-2 (up 5.63 units); Hennessey: 13-8-0 (up 4.11 units); Powers: 11-9-1 (up 1.37 units); Lack: 6-5-0 (up 0.63 units); Caddie: 10-10-1 (down 0.21 units); Mayo: 8-12-0 (down 4.51 units); Gdula: 8-12-1 (down 5.06 units)
Valero Texas Open picks 2023: Top 10s
Caddie: Corey Conners (+260, DraftKings) — His positional approach to TPC San Antonio translates really well here, and his ball-striking has looked a lot better since Bay Hill.
Mayo: Matt Wallace (+400, DraftKings) — There has been a significant split in the Brit’s form between elevated and non-elevated events. Elevated events? All missed cuts. At the Valspar, Honda and this past week’s Corales, all top-30 finishes, including a victory over the weekend. He even started the year with consecutive top 20s during the middle of the DP World Tour. Scanning the field at Valero, this is most certainly not an elevated event. Wallace’s irons and short game have been terrific, even in his missed cuts, it’s been a disastrous driver, which has caused the majority of his problems. Not saying it’s fixed, but he’s now logged positive off-the-tee numbers in two straight events after losing 1.58 SG/off-the-tee per round over his 18 rounds previous. Plus, he’s gained off the tee in both his career Valero starts, one of which was a tie for his best career finish on the PGA Tour—a third in 2021.
Gdula: Alex Noren (+490, FanDuel) — TPC San Antonio is a course that rewards a good short game, and Noren has, perhaps, the best in the field. He’s never played here, which is the main knock on him. The irons have been on point the past two starts, though, and if he puts it all together, he’s got an obvious upside profile.
Gehman: Nick Taylor (+500, DraftKings) — Taylor failed to get out of his group at the Match Play, but he didn’t play poorly. His last stroke-play start was the Valspar Championship where he finished T-10, marking his fourth top 20 of the calendar year. He’s solid around the greens, which is valuable at TPC San Antonio, and he offers some ball-striking upside.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Si Woo Kim (+240, DraftKings) — This ain’t close to a sure thing. It never is with Si Woo. As Mayo has documented time and time again, Si Woo is as volatile as they come … but it’s a helluva ride. If we get 80-85 percent of Si Woo’s best, then this is a good bet. He loves Valero (with a 13th, 23rd and fourth in his past three starts here) and is playing some really good golf. It’s time to ride the Si-Woo roller coaster.
Powers, Golf Digest: Akshay Bhatia (+850, DraftKings) — After narrowly missing the cut at Valspar, Bhatia flashed that all-world talent at Corales, shooting a 63 in Round 2 before a quiet weekend that saw him finish T-24. He hasn’t quite popped in a non-alternate field event yet this year, but this field is as close to an alternate field as it gets. He has to feel like he can hang with these guys this week.
Lack: Nick Taylor (+500, DraftKings) — Nick Taylor has quietly been playing some excellent golf and was able to back up a runner-up finish at the Waste Management with another top 10 at the Valspar Championship, where he gained over four strokes on approach. My numbers suggest he should be getting more respect on the odds board than his top-10 price of +500, and I will gladly take my chances on the Canadian to find his way into the mix come Sunday afternoon in Texas.
Group winner results from the WGC-Match Play: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Cameron Young +150); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Patrick Cantlay +110); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Gdula: 8 for 21 (up 16.1 units); Gehman: 7 for 21 (up 12 units); Mayo: 6 for 20 (up 8.1 units); Hennessey: 5 for 21 (up 6.35 units); Lack: 4 for 11 (up 4.5 units); Caddie: 5 for 21 (down 1.1 units); Powers: 2 for 21 (down 12.9 units)
TPC San Antonio: Oaks
San Antonio, TX
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.
Valero Texas Open picks 2023: One and Done
Gehman: Rickie Fowler — With a weaker field and not much incentive to save any of the favorites, you should be willing to burn someone near the top of the board. That someone for me is Rickie Fowler. Over the last 36 rounds, he’s gaining 1.18 strokes to the field – the best mark of anyone teeing it up this week, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He continues to hit the ball well, gaining strokes on approach in nine straight stroke play events and his putter is heating up.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo. Sanderson Farms Championship: Sam Burns. Shriners: Taylor Montgomery. Zozo: Sungjae Im. CJ Cup: Matt Fitzpatrick. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Aaron Wise. RSM Classic: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Cameron Young. Sony Open: Hideki Matsuyama. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Jason Day. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Scottie Scheffler. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Sungjae Im. API: Rory McIlroy. Players: Jon Rahm. Valspar: Justin Rose. WGC-Match Play: Cameron Young.
Hennessey: Nick Taylor — It is terrifying to go with Si Woo Kim in One and Done … even if the stats tell me he’s been consistent, my head tells me he’s a bit too volatile. We’ll roll with Taylor whose floor is a lot higher.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Cam Davis. Sanderson Farms Championship: Denny McCarthy. Shriners: Emiliano Grillo. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Sungjae Im. Bermuda: Mark Hubbard. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Jason Day. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Patrick Cantlay. Sony Open: Matt Kuchar. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Will Zalatoris. AT&T Pebble Beach: Seamus Power. WMPO: Collin Morikawa. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Keith Mitchell. Players: Rory McIlroy. Valspar: Adam Hadwin. WGC-Match Play: Tyrrell Hatton.
Powers: Matt Kuchar — Kuchar has shown some nice signs this year, particularly at courses he’s enjoyed success at in the past. TPC San Antonio is very much one of those courses for Kuch.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Sahith Theegala. Sanderson Farms Championship: J.T. Poston. Shriners: Sungjae Im. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Tyrrell Hatton. Bermuda: Russell Knox. Mayakoba: Thomas Detry. Houston Open: Sepp Straka. RSM Classic: Davis Riley. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Gary Woodland. American Express: Cameron Young. Farmers: Taylor Montgomery. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Sungjae Im. Genesis: Collin Morikawa. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Will Zalatoris. Players: Patrick Cantlay. Valspar: Justin Suh. WGC-Match Play: Tom Kim.
About our experts
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.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
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 RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports