PGA Tour Picks: Valero Texas Open Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/25/2015
I'm happy to eat a little crown when necessary. I would have bet anyone who offered $100 at 500/1 odds last week that Matt Every wouldn't win the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill over a strong field. There was NO chance of that with the way Every had played since his surprise win a year ago.
Of course he won. And he deserved to, shooting a final-round 6-under 66 to edge Henrik Stenson by a shot. Every, who rallied from a four-shot deficit last year in the final round, rallied from three down this time by matching the lowest round in the field Sunday. Needing a birdie to force a playoff, Stenson was wide left on a 20-foot putt at the 18th. Previously, only Tiger Woods and Loren Roberts had won in consecutive years at Bay Hill.
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That makes nine straight tournaments, incidentally, that the 54-hole leader of a PGA Tour event hasn't won. Stenson led by two entering Sunday but blamed some struggles on a rules official who put he and playing partner Morgan Hoffman on the clock for slow play. The Swede three-putted for bogey on No. 15 (the hole on which he was put on the clock) and three-putted again from the back of the par-5 16th. Just five times in 19 tournaments this season has a third-round leader emerged victorious. Bill Haas was the last do it in January.
I wrote that I was "tempted" to pick Stenson to win last week but that all the experts were and that rarely works. My value pick was J.B. Holmes at 33/1, and he missed the dang cut. On the Top-10 props, I hit on Stenson at even money. I had also picked Bubba Watson, but he withdrew after this story was posted because a childhood friend died unexpectedly. I also liked Adam Scott, but he was T35. I also hit on "over/under" Stenson's finishing position of under 11 and over 7.5 for Rory McIlroy, who was T11. Head-to-head, hit on Stenson at +110 against McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama (-115) over Harris English.
The PGA Tour leaves Florida for a mini-Texas Swing ahead of Augusta. Many top players will not play again until the Masters (McIlroy for one), although a few will next week in Houston. It's a pretty watered-down field for this week's Valero Texas open at TPC San Antonio. A total of 13 of the Top 30 are set to play, led by Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, who each had a win in the Sunshine State. Phil Mickelson usually doesn't play here but is and his game needs it. Any players who haven't yet earned a Masters invite will get one this week if they are in the world Top 50 following the Texas Open (English is one guy on the bubble at No. 53). There's then one spot open next week to the winner.
The defending champion is Stephen Bowditch, who held off Will MacKenzie and Daniel Summerhays for his first win despite Bowditch, an Aussie, shooting a final round 4-over 76. Bowditch entered the week 339th in the world and had only two Top-10 finishes in eight years on the Tour. It was the highest closing score by a winner of a non-major since Fred Couples had a 5-over 77 in the 1983 Kemper Open. Only two players broke 70 on Sunday last year as it was very windy. I'd like to say I guarantee that Bowditch will not repeat (150/1), but I've learned my lesson.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Valero Texas Open Favorites
No surprise that Spieth (8/1) and Johnson (10/1) are the clear Bovada favorites. The former is making his first start since that playoff win in the Tampa area a couple of weeks ago. Spieth has yet to win a tournament in his native Texas, and I know that's a major goal. I think he presses at times. Spieth missed the cut here two years ago but was 10th in 2014.
DJ makes a first start since winning at Doral against a monster field. That was his third Top-5 result this year. My only concern here is that it's Johnson's first visit to this tournament since it moved to TPC San Antonio. If anyone can deal with windy conditions, should they happen again, it's the long-hitting Johnson.
Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker (both 20/1) and Matt Kuchar (22/1) round out the favorites. Furyk was T40 in the Tampa area in his last start, ending a streak of 13 straight Top 25s on the Tour. He was third here in 2013 and T6 last year. Walker is from this area and was T16 last year. He has been a bit off of late, with three straight finishes outside the Top 25. Kuchar used to be a Top-20 machine, but he hasn't had one in his past three outings. He was T4 in San Antonio last year.
PGA Tour Picks: Valero Texas Open Expert Predictions
Let's start with Sportsbook.ag over/under finishing positions. I like under 8.5 for Spieth, over 9.5 for Johnson, under 17.5 for Walker, under 16.5 for Furyk, under 19.5 for Kuchar and over 24.5 for Mickelson. On the Top-10 props, go with Spieth at -155, Zach Johnson at +200 and Furyk at +165. I'd take Walker (-130) and Dustin Johnson (-250) for a Top 20.
I like Walker (+240) as the highest-placed finisher against Ryan Palmer (+260), Martin Kaymer (+360), Mickelson (+380) and Kevin Na (+450). Head-to-head, take Spieth (-130) over Dustin Johnson (even), Furyk (-130) over Zach Johnson (even), Kaymer (-130) over Mickelson, Kevin Na (-115) over English (-115), Charley Hoffman (-105) over Billy Horschel (-125), and Gary Woodland (-115) over Sean O'Hair (-115). I like John Senden at +400 as the top Aussie and Carl Pettersson at +250 as the top Swede.
Zach Johnson is worth a look at 25/1 to win. He was T6 here last year and won the event twice before it moved to TPC San Antonio. He generally plays well in Texas. But Furyk is my guy.
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