PGA Tour Picks: Valero Texas Open Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/26/2014
Now I'm just getting irritated with this golf season. I'm 0-for Hawaii, 0-for-California, 0-for Arizona and now zip-for Florida. I have never gotten to April without picking at least one winner. So perhaps it's good news the PGA Tour moves on to Texas this week from the Florida Swing.
Last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Adam Scott missed a golden chance to get to No. 1 in the world for the first time. Had he won, and presuming he and Tiger Woods don't play again until the Masters -- if Woods is even ready by then -- then the Aussie would have been No. 1 at Augusta. However, after taking a whopping seven-shot lead into Saturday, Scott shot 71. OK, still not bad, and he had a three-shot 54-hole lead. However on Sunday, Scott shot a 76, 14 strokes worse than his opening 62. Scott had a whopping 62 putts total in his final two rounds. Scott really blew it on No. 16 Sunday when he was on the par 5 in two and three-putted from 20 feet with a chance to tie.
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Matt Every, who was nine behind Scott starting his round Saturday, shot 66-70 on the weekend to win at 13-under 275 by a stroke over Keegan Bradley. It was the first PGA Tour win for Every, who grew up in nearby Daytona Beach and will be headed to the Masters for the first time. Every promptly withdrew from this tournament. Bradley had a chance to tie on his 72nd hole but missed a 30-foot birdie putt.
Obviously, I didn't choose Every, and I really didn't like Scott last week, either, because he was so unfamiliar with the course. I went with Zach Johnson to win at 20/1 as he has had great success at Bay Hill in the past. Maybe I need to start ignoring past course results. Johnson finished T43. I did hit on a Top-10 finish for Henrik Stenson at +250 but badly missed on Bubba Watson there as he withdrew after an opening 83. Head-to-head, I hit on Bradley at -120 over Harris English and Stenson (-120) over Hunter Mahan, who also withdrew. Stenson also paid off at -175 as the top Swedish finisher, so thank goodness for him last week.
So now it's on to the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, and there's an OK field considering many guys will play next week in Houston as that course is set up to simulate Augusta National as well as possible. The final spots in the Masters are up for grabs here in terms of getting into the Top 50 in the rankings, which is an automatic invite if not already qualified. The only players at the Valero Texas Open who can jump into the Top 50 are Chesson Hadley (No. 56) and Ryan Palmer (No. 62). Others would qualify for the Masters with a victory, but that's an automatic qualification (next week's Houston winner is in if not in Top 50).
Four of the world's Top 15 are playing, led by Phil Mickelson making his first trip here in 22 years. He must feel he needs the practice because he's set to play next week as well and then obviously Augusta. Lefty doesn't play three weeks in a row too often. Martin Laird is the defending champion as he shot a final-round 63, tying the course record, to beat out Rory McIlroy by two shots in 2013. Laird finished last among those who made the cut last week, so I'm not thinking he will repeat. TPC San Antonio is monster long at 7,435 yards. The shortest of the four par 5s is 567 yards. Laird led last year's field in par-5 scoring.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Valero Texas Open Favorites
Mickelson is the 16/1 favorite at Bovada , and that's pretty much on name only. He obviously won't be familiar with this course and has not played very well this season without a Top-10 finish. I'm not a Lefty fan this week.
Matt Kuchar and Johnson are 18/1 . The latter hasn't played this event since missing the cut in 2010 but won the tournament the previous two years (at another course). He generally plays well in Texas. Kuchar has been at least T25 the past two years in this event, and Mr. Consistent has four Top-10 finishes this season already.
Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth round out the favorites at 20/1. Walker has three wins this season and leads the FedEx Cup points standings. Walker was 31st here last year and missed the cut the previous two years. Spieth was off last week and has just one round under 70 in his past two tournaments this year. He missed the cut at the 2013 Texas Open.
PGA Tour Picks: Valero Texas Open Predictions
On the Top-10 props, I like Kuchar (+145), Charley Hoffman (+220), Palmer (+200) and Jason Kokrak (+250). Head-to-head, go with anyone against Mickelson, Kuchar (-115) over Spieth (-115), Walker (-115) over Spieth (-115) and Palmer (-115) over Jim Furyk (-115). I lean Fredrik Jacobson at 11/4 as the top European and Branden Grace (+350) as the leading South African.
I'm torn between three guys to win in Hoffman (25/1), Palmer (25/1) and Jacobson (28/1). Hoffman was third here last year and second in 2011. Palmer needs a strong tournament to get inside the Top 50 and has two second-place finishes this season. Jacobson has three Top 10s in seven starts here with a second in 2010. I'm going with the Swede as he played well last week as well and he's never missed the cut at the Texas Open.
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