PGA Tour Picks: Valero Texas Open Props Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 4/2/2013
I'd like to tell you that I saw D.A. Points' victory coming last week at the Shell Houston Open, but that's clearly false. The 36-year-old American arrived at the tournament having failed to break 70 in his last nine rounds on the PGA Tour and had missed seven cuts in nine events this year. But Points drained a 13-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the tournament by a shot. It gives Points a two-year exemption and entry into this year's Masters, just the second time he will play the year's first major.
Anyone inside the Top 50 in the world rankings following last week's event earned a Masters spot if not already qualified. Henrik Stenson also earned one, moving from 53rd to 42nd in the rankings following his tie for second in Houston. Because he did, Stenson decided not to play in this tournament.
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Fredrik Jacobson and Richard Sterne also secured spots in the Masters field despite not playing in Houston. Aussie Geoff Ogilvy was the big loser. He missed the cut in Houston to fall from No. 50 to 55. He pulled out of this event even though a victory would secure the final Masters spot if not already eligible. Charles Howell III, an Augusta native, needed to finish fifth or better in Houston to get into the Top 50 and ended up tied for 10th, so he will miss the Masters for the fourth time in the past five years.
I liked Phil Mickelson to win last week. He struggled the first two rounds but closed 67-68 to finish T16. I hit on Lefty at -120 head-to-head against Brandt Snedeker. I also hit on Top-10 finishes for Keegan Bradley (-120) and Lee Westwood (+250).
Americans are totally dominating the PGA Tour these days as Points' win was the 16th straight by a USA player dating to Tommy Gainey's victory at 2012 McGladrey Classic. The last time U.S. players won 17 consecutive tournaments was in 2006. The longest such American streak since 1980 has been 33, which ended in 1983.
The Valero Texas Open has been on the move a lot in recent years, and the PGA Tour shifted it before the Masters this year to make the sponsors happy because they didn't want the tournament to end on Easter Sunday (a calendar quirk had an extra weekend on the pre-Masters schedule). Most big names aren't at the TPC San Antonio, instead preparing on their own for Augusta. However, Rory McIlroy made a surprise decision to play. His caddie suggested it over lunch last Friday at the Houston Open, and McIlroy decided to play considering he hasn't played many competitive rounds this year. He was another non-factor last week, finishing T45. Fellow European Ian Poulter also decided to change his routine before Augusta and play this week.
McIlroy and Poulter may not want to win this week. Only two players have won the week prior to the Masters and then gone on to win in Augusta: Sandy Lyle (Greater Greensboro Open) in 1988 and Mickelson (BellSouth Classic) in 2006.
Defending champ Ben Curtis is back (80/1). He captured his first victory in six years last year, beating Matt Every and John Huh by two shots. He is trying to become the third player to repeat at this tournament since 2000, joining Justin Leonard (2000-01) and Zach Johnson (2008-09). The par-72 Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio hosts for the fourth straight year and was a beast in 2012, averaging 73.989 strokes per round. But some alterations have been made and it should play easier, although it's still a tight track.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Valero Texas Open Favorites
McIlroy is the 9/1 favorite at Bovada, but I'm not sure why. Not only has he struggled big time all year, but he isn't familiar with the course as it's his first trip to this event. I almost believe he's desperate to put a few good rounds together before Augusta.
Former Masters champ Charl Schwartzel is 10/1, and he's also playing for the first time. The South African hasn't played in the USA since a T16 at Doral but was T4 two weeks ago in Malaysia.
WGC-Match Play champ Matt Kuchar is 12/1, and then there's a big drop-off with Jacobson (22/1) and Poulter (25/1) rounding out the Top 5. Kuchar hasn't missed a cut all year and was T16 in his last event in the Tampa Bay area. Kuchar played here last year and was T13. Jacobson hasn't finished worse than T16 in his past four PGA Tour stroke-play events and now can play without pressure because the Masters invite is a done deal. He has three Top-5 finishes at the Texas Open in the past four years. Poulter is playing the event for the first time. He has made 19 straight cuts on the PGA Tour.
PGA Tour Picks: Valero Texas Open Betting Predictions
On the yes-only Top-10 props, I like Schwartzel (-125) and Kuchar (even). I also like an American at -200 as the winning nationality and one stroke (+250) as the winning margin. On the head-to-head take Schwartzel (-110) over McIlroy (-120), Brendan Steele (-110) vs. Padraig Harrington (-120) and Billy Horschel (-115) over Bud Cauley (-115).
Horschel leads the Tour with 20 consecutive cuts made and was a career-best second last week. I don't like him to win, however, as he hasn't been better than T74 in two trips here. Steele is great value at 50/1 to win. He won here in 2011 and was T4 last year.
But I'm going with Charley Hoffman at 45/1. In seven trips to this event, he has finished worse than T13 just once. He was a solid T20 last week and ranked T2 in greens in regulation. Hoffman needs a win to play in the Masters.
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