Our golf scribe runs the rule over this week's PGA Tour event, the Valero Texas Open.
The TPC San Antonio could not be any more different than the more quaint surrounds of South Carolina last week. This bulky par 72 course has been known for low scoring in recent years, but will invariably lend itself to the big bombers. It very much fits into the mould of your prototypical modern PGA Course.
The lack of huge players this week - Patrick Reed is the world’s highest ranked player at a lowly 15 - means that there is some great value to be had at the top end of the field. Kuchar leads the way at around 18/1, highlighting the possibility of yet another profitable week for punters.
Sergio’s win at Augusta came in at around 40/1, while Wesley Bryan followed that up at the Heritage at around 60/1. So there seems to be a trend of unpredictability and value at present. There are quite a few players in the field who have been on the precipice of having a big season thus far. Charley Hoffman’s splendid ‘natural’ approach to golf almost paid dividends at the Masters. He is the defending champions and seems to have a penchant for the Greg Norman designed courses - having dragged his sorry game over the line in a last-gasp victory at the OHL.
Then you had the crazy pyrotechnics of Matt Kuchar in that final stretch at Augusta. There are some big bruisers here who could galvanise their entire season with victory. Tony Finau and Adam Hadwin spring to mind. Hadwin ultimately disappointed on his first trip to Augusta, but the man has a 59 under his belt this season and will feel confident this week. This should be a fascinating weekend of golf and one that should present some decent opportunities for the punters.
Valero Texas Open | Thursday 20 April - Sunday 23 April | TPC San Antonio, Texas
2016: Charley Hoffman (-12) | 2015: Jimmy Walker (-11) | 2014: Steven Bowditch (-8)
2013: Martin Laird (-14) | 2012: Ben Curtis (-9)
To Win Outright
Matt Kuchar 18/1 | Jimmy Walker 20/1 | Brooks Koepka 22/1 | Charley Hoffman 22/1 | Branden Grace 22/1
Billy Horschel - To Win 35/1 & To Place 15/2
Horschel may have missed the cut at the Heritage, but don’t let that momentary blip fool you. He is an absolute machine at this golf tournament. Take last season for instance. He had similarly underperformed the week prior to the Valero Texas Open, notching up a tie for 54th. He went on to register a tie for 4th around TPC San Antonio. The American placed solo 3rd in both 2013 and 2015. In six starts, he ranks 15th on the all-time money list at this event. He will always be a formidable foe in Texas and looks great at 35/1.
Ollie Schniederjans - To Win 40/1 & To Place 17/2
The man with the name that has left many a venerated golfing commentator somewhat tongue-tied, Schniederjans brings in excellent form from last week in conjunction with genuine seasonal form. He ended up in a tie for 3rd place at the Heritage behind Bryan and a rejuvenated Luke Donald. The Dallas native has had four top 10 finishes this season, including a tie for 6th at the RSM Classic. He ranks inside the top 40 for driving distance and also ranks inside the top 30 for shots gained approaching the green. He could be a decent sleeper bet this week.
Ryan Palmer - To Win 50/1 & To Place 11/1
The Texas native seems extremely long considering his form at this course over the last two seasons. The big hitter has finished 4th and 6th here in the last two respective events. He has had an indifferent year thus far, yet to register a top 10 - his best finish being an 11th place at Harbor Town. But the big hitter’s proclivity to be errant from time to time from the tee-box is forgiving somewhat by the layout here. He has a penchant for performing in his home state and should be a good bet in the place markets.
The Man to Beat
Brooks Koepka To Win 22/1 & To Place 48/10
Koepka has had a difficult start to his year following a breakthrough 2016 that saw him rise to prominence, culminating in his first Ryder Cup visit. The big hitting Koepka is one of those idiosyncratically Nike branded golfers that has been giving full license to play around with their equipment, yielding mixed results. The signs started to turn at the WGC Dell Match Play, where he told reporters that he was starting to figure things out en route to 9th place. He then managed to improve every single round at Augusta, finishing in a creditable 11th at the Masters. Another interesting point to observe is the correlation between this tournament and the Byron Nelson - also played in Texas. Bowditch won that event following his breakthrough victory here in 2014. Last season, Koepka finished 2nd behind current Masters Champion Sergio Garcia. The signs bode well for that elusive 2nd PGA Tour victory.