PGA Tour Golf Odds and Predictions: Velero Texas Open
by Alan Matthews - 4/18/2012
Hasn’t been a great stretch for me in picking PGA Tour event winners since the pros left the Florida Swing behind. Two weeks ago I went with Tiger Woods in the Masters, as did most people, but Tiger was a non-factor in his worst Masters finish as a pro. And then last week at the RBC Heritage, I took a flier on former winner Brian Gay at 66/1. Unfortunately, he didn’t even make the cut.
So perhaps a trip to Texas will change our fortunes as the Tour makes a stop at TPC San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open in its 90th anniversary season. I can’t sugarcoat it as this week’s field is one of the worst of the season without a single Top 10 player in the world and only one guy – Johnson Wagner – in the Top 10 in the FedEx Cup points race or PGA Tour money list.
But the Texas Open should get a much better field next year, as it will be played the week before the Masters. The Shell Houston Open, which traditionally has served as the warm-up for the season's first major, will be moved to March 28-31 in 2013. The PGA decides on dates for tournaments on an annual basis.
Texan Justin Leonard (125/1), a one-time British Open titlist, will return and attempt to become the first player to win the Texas Open four times. He'll go up against a 144-man field that includes major winners Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, David Duval, Rich Beem, Mike Weir and Lee Janzen. Anthony Kim, who has been battling injuries, was a late entry, while Bo Van Pelt was a last-minute withdrawal.
Brendan Steele is back to defend and is at 66/1 to repeat. Last year as a rookie in very windy conditions, Steele shot a 1-under 71 on Sunday to beat fellow first-year PGA Tour player Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman to win by a stroke. The last player to win the Valero Texas Open in back-to-back years was Zach Johnson, who did it in 2008-09.
The scoring average was a whopping 73.665 in 2011 (highest of any spring tournament) and Steele's 280 overall was the highest winning score at the Texas Open since a 283 won the 1934 edition. It was the only par-72 course that ranked inside the top five most difficult in both driving accuracy (fifth; 51.65 percent) and greens in regulation (fourth; 56.32 percent). It also posted the highest scoring average on par 5s of any course in 2011 at 4.94.
No. 1 at AT&T Oaks Course has ranked as the toughest opening hole on the PGA Tour the past two years. Last year, the 454-yard par-4’s scoring average soared to 4.462 strokes for the final day (three birdies, 34 bogeys or worse). Kevin Na made some history during the first round when he posted a 16 at the ninth hole, the highest score on any par-4 in PGA annals.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Valero Texas Open Favorites
Matt Kuchar, the lone Top-15 world ranked player in the field, is the 10/1 favorite at Bovada. He hasn’t played in this event since it moved courses (he last played in 2008) and he has missed a whopping five cuts in seven Texas Opens. But Kuchar is clearly the best player in the field and hasn’t missed a cut on Tour this year, although he did have his worst finish of 2012 (T44) last week at Hilton Head.
Fredrik Jacobson and Na are next at 20/1. Na missed the cut here last year thanks to that 16 (he finished +13) but he has four Top-10 finishes already this year, including in two of his past three tournaments. Jacobson loves the Texas Open, finishing in the Top 5 in each of the past three years (runner-up in 2010). The Swede hasn’t missed a cut this year but was only 67th last week.
K.J. Choi (22/1), J.B. Holmes (25/1) and Wagner (25/1) round out the main favorites. Choi hasn’t played this tournament since way back in 2005. He didn’t play last week after missing the cut at the Masters. Choi hasn’t had a Top-20 finish since the season-opening event in Hawaii.
Holmes has the best average finish in this tournament (12th) of any player who has competed in it at least twice. He was T11 last year. Holmes should be rested, as he hasn’t played since a T8 in Houston before the Masters.
Wagner, meanwhile, owns four Top-10 finishes this year to co-lead the PGA Tour. He was off last week after missing the cut at the Masters. Wagner was T15 here last year, the only time he has made the cut in three tries.
Golf Odds: Valero Texas Open Picks
Jimmy Walker is worth a look at 50/1. The San Antonio resident will know the course better than almost anyone. He shared third place here in 2010 but missed last year’s cut largely due to lower back trouble. Walker has three Top-10 finishes this season and hasn’t missed a cut since the start of February.
Cameron Tringle also is solid value at 50/1. He has played here the past two years, with a top finish of T5 last year. Tringle hasn’t played since a T8 in Houston.
But my pick has to be Hoffman at 30/1 to win. He has been consistent in this event, finishing in the Top 15 in five of six years. At TPC San Antonio, he has finished T2 and T13. Hoffman, who is looking for his first win since the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship in the FedEx Cup playoffs, finished T8 last week at the RBC Heritage so he is playing well.
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