Keep an eye on the weather forecast with Valero FRL plays
4 Min Read
Written by Brady Kannon @lasvegasgolfer
After fairly stable conditions over five days last week in Austin, Texas at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, the weather appears set to play a bigger role in the proceedings this week in San Antonio. It’s the Valero Texas Open and the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio, the host for this event since 2010 and the final tournament before the Masters.
The forecast calls for rain and scattered thunderstorms overnight and into the morning on Thursday in San Antonio. Inclement weather has often been a part of the story at the Valero, where an already difficult golf course becomes an even greater test due to wind and firm conditions. If the forecast holds true, the morning wave of golfers on Thursday could experience some challenging and sloppy conditions. It might turn out to be somewhat of an advantage for the late wave of players as the rain begins to subside in the afternoon and leaves behind a softer golf course.
I have stated before that playing the First Round Leader market is one to treat with caution. Banking on how a weather pattern will play out, and how it will affect play, adds yet another layer of uncertainty. Over the past five editions of the Valero Texas Open, four of the first-round leaders have come from the morning wave of start times. For the 2023 edition, I am looking at one player starting early and three players who are teeing off in the late wave. Had the weather forecast been different, so too may have been my selections. But as it turns out, I happen to like three players teeing off late and the expected weather pattern may (hopefully) end up being to our advantage.
Below are my picks to get out to a fast start Thursday and lead after the opening round, with odds via BetMGM Sportsbook:
Rickie Fowler (+3000)
Fowler is arguably the biggest name in the field this week. He also carries with him a big storyline, needing to win the tournament outright in order to receive an invitation to the Masters Tournament next week. He's been playing at a very high level as of late - better than he has played in quite some time. He's had two opening rounds in 2023 in which his SG: Total was +3.0 or better. He's had seven rounds in total by the same measure. Fowler ranks 38th on TOUR in First Round Scoring Average, 12th in Birdie Average, and 30th in Bogey Avoidance.
Chris Kirk (+4000)
Unlike Fowler, Kirk is already in the Masters field with his win earlier this season at the Honda Classic. I have a feeling this may have him playing relaxed in the early going, coming here more so to get a little work in and tune up his game for next week, rather than grinding under pressure. Like Fowler, Kirk has played seven rounds in 2023 in which he's gained three strokes or more in SG Total - and four rounds in which he's gained over five strokes on the field in SG: Total. He ranks 26th on TOUR in Birdie Average and 25th in Bogey Avoidance.
Adam Schenk (+5500)
A hard-luck loser to Taylor Moore two weeks ago at the Valspar Championship, Schenk is our lone play from the early wave of start times. In three separate opening rounds in 2023, Schenk has fired rounds that gained 4+ strokes on the field in SG: Total. With that, he has ascended to 21st on TOUR in First Round Scoring Average. I feel like he's had some time to shed the bad memory of the Valspar and comes to Texas ready to make a charge once again.
Ben Griffin (+5500)
Griffin has really set the tone this season for going low early. Five times in 2023, Griffin has opened a tournament by gaining three or more strokes on the field in SG: Total. He's done so in eight rounds overall. He ranks fifth on TOUR for First Round Scoring Average, 30th in Birdie Average, and 37th in Bogey Avoidance.
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