Updated throughout each tournament week, 'The Starter' will provide key news, notes, and other nuggets prior to the first tee time on Thursday morning. Think of it as an all-in-one resource to help guide you in the days leading up to the start of the tournament, as you prepare your fantasy golf lineups and entries. As soon as we receive valuable news updates on things such as tee times, featured groups, withdrawals and other course reports we’ll be sure to post them all here.
Sam Burns defeated Cameron Young in the Finals to earn his 5th PGA Tour victory. It was Burns' debut at Dell Match Play.
Burns has now won 5 times in his last 46 starts.
Burns moved from 15th to 10th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Cameron Young finished runner-up in his first week with Paul Tesori caddying for him.
Young has eight top-3 finishes in 37 career starts on the PGA Tour (six runner-up finishes).
Rory McIlroy defeated Scottie Scheffler in the 3rd Place Match.
Most all-time match victories at Dell Match Play: Tiger Woods (36), Matt Kuchar (36), Rory McIlroy (34), Ian Poulter (33).
McIlroy moved from 3rd to 2nd in the OWGR.
Scottie Scheffler lost in the consolation match but now has three top-4 finishes in as many starts at Dell Match Play.
Scheffler remains the number-one-ranked golfer in the world.
TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course) - San Antonio, Texas
Event #24 of the 2022-23 FedExCup Regular Season
Full-field cut event
The Valero Texas Open and TPC San Antonio will serve as the final appetizer before heading to Augusta, Georgia next week for the main course (Scottie sliders and whatnot).
The origins of the Texas Open go all the way back to 1922. Valero became the title sponsor of the event in 2002, and the tournament has been played at the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio since 2010.
The tournament has shifted around on the PGA Tour's schedule over the years. At one point Valero was played as a Fall Series event opposite the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. In recent years, Valero has settled into this sort of awkward spot the week before The Masters.
Happening the week just prior to The Masters gives the Valero Texas Open the distinction as the players' last opportunity to try and qualify for Augusta (if not in already). The only remaining way to get into The Masters is to win Valero this week.
Understandably, most of the big names opt to take this week off in order to rest or work on things specifically in preparation for Augusta. Even Jordan Spieth, who tends to play just about every event in Texas, is taking this tournament off after a very busy last couple of weeks.
With a lack of star players, the Valero Texas Open ultimately presents an interesting opportunity for under-the-radar talent to emerge or forgotten vets to resurface. Corey Conners famously got into the field in 2019 through the Monday Qualifier and then went on to win. It's unexpected storylines like that to be on the lookout for this week in San Antonio.
The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio is a pretty ordinary track on the PGA Tour. It's a tree-lined course that typically lacks penal rough off the fairways or around the greens. There are no real unique characteristics or defining features of the course–no Bear Traps or Snake Pits. This is pretty much just your run-of-the-mill setup on Tour.
Measuring 7,438 yards, TPC San Antonio is on the longer side (7th longest course on the PGA Tour in 2022). Some of that length is built into the par-5 2nd and par-5 8th which both measure just over 600 yards on the scorecard. But given how far the modern PGA Tour player hits the ball, these are still holes that can be taken advantage of at the Oaks Course.
As mentioned, the rough at TPC San Antonio is consistently some of the least penal on the PGA Tour. That said, big misses off the tee can end up in the oak trees and become very costly. So there is some merit to driving it fairly accurately here.
Texas winds and firm course conditions are what usually keep scoring somewhat in check and not a total birdie fest around TPC San Antonio.
The Greens-in-Regulation Percentage tends to be below the TOUR average (11th out of 38 courses in GIR% in 2022; 9th out of 40 courses in GIR% in 2021). This puts some importance on being able to get up and down from around the greens.
The other option is just striking precise irons and approach shots that hit more greens than the rest of the field. This would be the Corey Conners model from 2019 when he led the field in SG: Approach and hit the most greens.
TPC San Antonio is ultimately very middle of the road in terms of the challenge it presents. But like most weeks, wind and firm course conditions can increase the difficulty.
Architect: Greg Norman (2010)
Yards: 7,438 (Par 72)
Fairway: Perennial Rye / fescue
Rough: Perennial Rye / fescue
Greens: Poa Trivialis overseed
Avg. green size: 6,400 sq. ft.
Sand Bunkers: 64
Number of Water Hazards: 3
Number of Holes Water is in Play: 3
Course Scoring Stats:
In 2022, TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course) ranked as the 18th most difficult course on the PGA Tour (out of 38) in terms of scoring average.
Winning Scores last ten years:
2022: J.J. Spaun -13
2021: Jordan Spieth -18
2020: Cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic
2019: Corey Conners -20
2018: Andrew Landry -17
2017: Kevin Chappell -12
2016: Charley Hoffman -12
2015: Jimmy Walker -11
2014: Steven Bowditch -8
2013: Martin Laird -14
Additional scoring stats last three years:
2022 Scoring Average: 71.76 (-0.24)
2021 Scoring Average: 72.48 (+0.48)
2019 Scoring Average: 71.24 (-0.76)
How J.J. Spaun gained strokes on the field in 2022:
SG Total: +11.76
SG T2G: +8.68 (5th)
SG OTT: +2.64 (10th)
SG APP: +2.72 (23rd)
SG ARG: +3.32 (13th)
SG PUTT: +3.04 (17th)
How Jordan Spieth gained strokes on the field in 2021:
SG Total: +18.60
SG T2G: +12.88 (3rd)
SG OTT: +0.96 (38th)
SG APP: +7.40 (4th)
SG ARG: +4.52 (3rd)
SG PUTT: +5.72 (6th)
How Corey Conners gained strokes on the field in 2019:
SG Total: +16.52
SG T2G: +14.36 (2nd)
SG OTT: +4.32 (4th)
SG APP: +11.56 (1st)
SG ARG: -1.52 (65th)
SG PUTT: +2.16 (27th)
Field Changes (-): Anders Albertson, Stephan Jaeger, Keith Mitchell
Field Changes (-): Robert Streb WD on 3/28.
Field Changes (+): Ricky Barnes, Nicolai Hojgaard
Field Changes (+): Satoshi Kodaira added on 3/28.
Monday Qualifiers (+): David Carey, Peter Kuest, Austen Truslow, Peter Lansburgh
Sponsor Exemptions (+): Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Akshay Bhatia, Pierceson Coody, Cole Hammer, Charley Hoffman, Ryan Fox, Kazuki Higa, Ryan Gerard, Chandler Phillips, Robert Diaz
Life Member (+): Davis Love III
2 of the OWGR Top-25 are in the field.
7 of the OWGR Top-50 are in the field.
Tyrrell Hatton (hand/wrist) - OWGR 17th
Hatton felt pain in his hand after hitting a shot on the driving range before his opening match of last week’s WGC-Dell Match Play. According to a report from Rex Hoggard of Golf Channel, Hatton took Advil before the match and managed to play with limited pain.
The Englishman ultimately played through whatever pain he felt though he lost all three of his pool play matches. With The Masters a week away, it seems unlikely that Hatton would play Valero if he had any concerns about his hand/wrist. Nonetheless, it’s something to keep an eye on this week.
Hideki Matsuyama (neck) - OWGR 21st
Matsuyama conceded his final match of the WGC-Dell Match Play due to a neck injury. He said he felt stiffness in his neck while warming up on the driving range prior to the match and then decided to concede as a precautionary measure. Matsuyama has dealt with this neck issue off and on since last season, so his health status will certainly be one to monitor this week.
Matthew NeSmith (back) - OWGR 116th
NeSmith withdrew before his R1 tee time in his last start at the Valspar Championship due to a back injury. This expects to be his first start since then. After posting three top-10 finishes in the Fall portion of the schedule, NeSmith has missed the cut in five of seven starts in 2023. It’s unclear if this back injury popped up at the Valspar or if it has plagued him this year; regardless, NeSmith will look to bounce back at Valero.
Carl Yuan (undisclosed) - OWGR 152nd
Yuan withdrew from last week’s Corales Puntacana Championship one day before the start of the event. No reason was given for Yuan’s WD. The rookie has missed the cut in five of his last six starts on the PGA Tour.
Lanto Griffin (muscle strain) - OWGR 196th
Griffin has not played in an event on the PGA Tour since withdrawing during the second round of The Genesis Invitational (2/17) due to an intercostal muscle strain in his rib and back area.
He made his return to competition on the Korn Ferry Tour at last week’s Club Car Championship (3/23-3/26) where Griffin finished T16.
Chad Ramey (back) - OWGR 217th
Ramey withdrew from last week’s Corales Puntacana Championship prior to his R2 tee time due to a back injury. The 30-year-old shot a one-under 71 in the opening round, which suggests he felt fine before tweaking something leading up to the second round.
James Hahn (neck) - OWGR 310th
Hahn mentioned in a Twitter post on March 6th that he’s not been able to practice much because of a neck injury. The 41-year-old has managed to play through the injury in 2023, though Hahn has missed the cut in five of seven starts this year.
Davis Love III (hand/wrist)
Love III withdrew prior to the start of The RSM Classic last Fall due to a wrist injury. He returned to competitive action for the first time since then on the Champions Tour at the Hoag Classic (3/19) where he finished T67.
NOT IN FIELD
Will Zalatoris (illness) - OWGR 8th
Zalatoris conceded his final match of the WGC-Dell Match Play due to illness. Sitting at an 0-2 record in pool play and already eliminated from the tournament, Zalatoris decided to withdraw rather than compete in a match that would have no impact on his own event result.
Zalatoris’ next start is expected to come at The Masters, though it’ll be important to monitor his health status until then.
Daniel Berger (back) - OWGR 97th
Berger is hopeful to make his return to the PGA Tour sometime in May, per Daniel Rapaport of Barstool Sports. The four-time winner has been sidelined since the 2022 U.S. Open. Berger tried to play through this injury last season but said “that was definitely not the answer.” Instead, Berger has opted to take a more patient approach in his recovery. According to Rapaport, Berger has begun ramping up practice, and though he’s set no official timeline for a return it appears Berger could come back to the TOUR in May.
C.T. Pan (wrist) - OWGR 249th
Pan made his return to competitive action at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Club Car Championship (3/23-3/26). Though Pan missed the cut, it was his first start since the WWT Championship at Mayakoba last Fall. He's likely to return to the PGA Tour soon.
Anders Albertson (undisclosed) - OWGR 406th
Albertson pulled out of the field for the Valspar Championship a few days prior to the start of the event. He did the same this week for the Valero with no reason being given for his WD, though at this point it seems likely that he's dealing with some sort of injury.
It's worth noting that Albertson cited a back injury when he withdrew from the RSM Classic in the Fall portion of the schedule.
Valero Texas Open golfers with the highest “True Strokes Gained” (avg. adjusted strokes gained) at TPC San Antonio (min. two starts):
Charley Hoffman +2.02 (46 rounds)
Corey Conners +1.87 (16)
Ryan Moore +1.72 (20)
Lucas Glover +1.48 (14)
Kevin Streelman +1.48 (28)
Matt Kuchar +1.45 (40)
Martin Laird +1.38 (34)
Chris Kirk +1.30 (28)
Si Woo Kim +1.20 (22)
Most "True Strokes Gained" over the last 3 months (per Data Golf):
Tyrrell Hatton +1.75
Chris Kirk +1.66
Rickie Fowler +1.57
Si Woo Kim +1.54
Nick Taylor +1.28
Taylor Montgomery +1.11
Sam Ryder +1.11
Ben Griffin +1.08
Most "True Strokes Gained" over the last 30 days (per Data Golf):
Tyrrell Hatton +2.32 (11 rounds)
Ryan Fox +1.60 (10)
Si Woo Kim +1.55 (11)
Matt Wallace +1.51 (14)
Tyler Duncan +1.46 (14)
Francesco Molinari +1.37 (8)
Brendon Todd +1.37 (8)
Rickie Fowler +1.33 (11)
Adam Schenk +1.30 (14)
J.J. Spaun +1.25 (8)
Corey Conners +1.23 (9)
Ben Griffin +1.22 (19)
Eric Cole +1.21 (12)