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PREVIEW: 2024 PGA Tour – Valero Texas Open

The Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio represents the final tune up before the Masters next week. Damien Kayat previews.

Ludvig Aberg - PGA Tour

The Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio represents the final tune up before the Masters next week. Damien Kayat previews.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2024 US PGA Tour
Valero Texas Open
TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course), San Antonio, Texas
4 – 7 April

Scottie Scheffler is human after all. The World No.1 was in prime position to make it three consecutive titles in Houston last week, needing to make a five-footer on the 18th to force a playoff with German Stephen Jaeger. The dead-eye American amazingly missed (giving some hope to the rest of the golfing fraternity heading to Augusta).

In any event, Scheffler’s miss ensured that the metronomic Stephen Jaeger picked up his maiden US PGA Tour title. A six-time Korn Ferry Tour winner, Jaegar remained resilient in windy conditions, ultimately dedicating his victory to his late father.

Valero Texas Open

The tour remains in the Lone Star State this week, moving from Houston to San Antonio for the latest edition of the Valero Texas Open. First staged way back in 1922, this venerated event is actually the third-longest-running tournament in PGA Tour history.

Furthermore, it is actually the sixth-oldest professional golf tournament worldwide and it has always been held in the San Antonio area.
The event has lost a certain je ne sais quoi over the past few decades. It was demoted to the Fall Series at one point and played as an opposite event to both the President’s Cup and Ryder Cup.

The event then moved to a week after the Masters (which is essentially a graveyard for golfing enthusiasm). It started to regain a bit of lost credibility when it was moved to the week immediately preceding the Masters (its current spot).

This has seen an increase in the number of quality players desperately scrambling to earn that final Masters qualification spot (if this week’s winner isn’t already in the Masters field he will have punched his ticket to Magnolia Lane).

The event was a fixture at La Cantera Golf Club between 1995 and 2009 before switching to current host venue TPC San Antonio. The event was cancelled due to the pandemic in 2020- making this the 14th renewal staged at TPC San Antonio.

Oaks Course – TPC San Antonio

Opened in 2010, the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio was designed by everybody’s favourite antipodean rabble-rouser: Greg Norman. Fellow Aussie Adam Scott actually won the inaugural staging of this event.

This Bermuda layout can become quite tricky if those tempestuous Texas winds pick up (meaning the draw could prove crucial this week). Driving distance and accuracy aren’t integral stats this week.

There are a plethora of fairway bunkers out there that are probably more treacherous than the rough (sand save percentage could be a good stat to look at this week). But recent renewals suggest that GIR and putting will prove most critical this week.

In fact, seven of the last nine winners here have ranked inside the top five for putting average. Also, watch for perhaps the quirkiest par 3 on the PGA Tour: the 16th. It features a bunker in the middle of the green, portioning it into two different segments. It’s a nice little idiosyncrasy that helps give the Oaks Course its own unique flavour.

The Contenders

Rory McIlroy is a real enigma heading into this year’s Masters. He hasn’t finished inside the top 15 on tour this year and the watercooler talk surrounding a career Grand Slam has calmed considerably (which may prove beneficial to him).

He finished runner-up here back in 2011 and he could do with a little confidence boost this week. McIlroy is joined by fellow Ryder Cup winners Ludvig Aberg, Matt Fitzpatrick, Nicolai Hojgaard and Tommy Fleetwood.

Canadian Corey Conners will be looking to become the first back-to-back winner of this event since Zach Johnson in 2008-2009. Jordan Spieth is a former champion here and the Texan will no doubt enjoy some massive support this week.

Elsewhere, the likes of Morikawa, Homa and Matsuyama jump off the page in a pretty star-studded field ahead of next week’s Masters.

Past Winners

2023: Corey Conners (-15)
2022: J.J. Spaun (-13)
2021: Jordan Spieth (-18)
2020: event cancelled
2019: Corey Conners (-20)
2018: Andrew Landry (-17)

To Win Outright:

Rory McIlroy 9/1 | Ludvig Aberg 14/1 | Collin Morikawa 18/1 | Hideki Matsuyama 18/1 | Jordan Spieth 18/1

Value Bets

Christiaan Bezuidenhout- To Win 50/1 | To Place 11/1

This won’t be the first time I have backed the South African this season. But he just seems to scream value at 50/1 this week. Bezuidenhout finished runner-up to Nick Dunlap at the American Express and he has remained pretty consistent since then, picking up four top 25’s since that runner-up finish. He most recently finished T9 at the Valspar and T13 at the Players. He currently ranks 11th on tour for strokes gained approaching the green. He also ranks 17th in strokes gained putting. That combination of stats- plus his recent form- could make him a contender this week.

Charley Hoffman- To Win 100/1 | To Place 22/1

It’s always worth playing Charley Hoffman in this event (especially in the place markets). Hoffman has a victory and two runner-up finishes in his last seven starts at TPC San Antonio. He has played this event every year since 2006 and he only has one missed cut in those outings (2022). He bounced back with a T22 last year and I think he always has a chance to shoot the lights out here. Sure, he is coming into this event off the back of three consecutive missed cuts. But he showed that he still has juice in the tank at the rambunctious Phoenix Open, losing to Nick Taylor in a tight playoff.

The Man to Beat- Ludvig Aberg- To Win 14/1 | To Place 3/1

I think I’m going to take a shot on Ludvig Aberg this week. European players have been in vogue this year and I can easily see the Swedish sensation claiming a second US PGA Tour title. The 24-year-old burst onto the professional scene last year, winning the Omega European Masters and the RSM Classic. He has played solidly this season but he just hasn’t quite had the consistency to claim that second title. He finished second at a weather-afflicted Pebble Beach event. And he finished solo eighth last time out at TPC Sawgrass (finishing just six shots behind eventual champ Scottie Scheffler). He gained 6.6 shots on approach at Sawgrass and that will be a crucial stat this week. He actually leads the field in approach shots from between 150-200 yards (and you will get plenty of those this week). The former Texas Tech star is a great wind player who should feel comfortable in these conditions.

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