I didn't know a heck of a lot about PGA Tour pro Wesley Bryan before he won the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, S.C., on Sunday, but he has just become one of my most-liked golfers. Why? To celebrate his first PGA Tour win, two-year Tour exemption, $1.7 million winner's check and spot in next year's Masters, Bryan, proudly wearing his plaid jacket that also went to the tournament winner, took a selfie of himself and his wife celebrating at Taco Bell afterward. That's awesome.
Bryan, born in Columbia, S.C. and an alum of the University of South Carolina, started Sunday day four shots off the lead, but four birdies in a row on the front nine put him in contention and two more on the back-nine moved him to the top of the leaderboard. Bryan joined Mackenzie Hughes and Cody Gribble as rookie winners this season and is the sixth first-time winner of the 2016-17 season. Bryan finished at 13-under, one shot ahead of England's Luke Donald, who amazingly had yet another runner-up in this event.
It was Donald's his fifth runner-up finish and seventh Top-3 finish in the last nine years (2-2017, T2-2016, 2nd-2014, T3-2013, 2nd-2011, T3-2010, T2-2009) at the RBC Heritage. Since 1934, Donald is one of six players to finish runner-up in an official event five times. The most runners-up are seven by Jack Nicklaus at the Canadian Open and Phil Mickelson's six in the U.S. Open. Jason Dufner started Sunday with a one-shot lead at Hilton Head, but he fell from contention early in the back nine.
I like Matt Kuchar as the betting favorite to win, and he finished T11, just one shot from a Top 10 at +125. I did get Donald at +275 for one as well as +450 as the top Great Britain & Ireland player. Just missed on Kevin Kisner (T11) and defending champion Branden Grace (also T11) for a Top 10.
The pros head back to Texas this week for the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio's Oaks Course. This tournament had been the site of the 72-hole PGA Tour scoring record of 254, shot by Tommy Armour III at a different course. However, Justin Thomas broke that with a 253 in Hawaii back in January. The 2011 event you might remember simply because Kevin Na scored a 12-over par 16 on the ninth hole in the opening round. He couldn't get the ball free of some rocks and underbrush.
It's not a great field with five of the world's Top 25 set to play. The defending champion is Charley Hoffman, who drained a 9-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a Sunday 3-under 69 to finish at 12-under 276 and beat San Antonio native Patrick Reed by one shot. Reed like Hoffman birdied the 18th hole but missed short birdie putts on 16 & 17. Third-round leader Ricky Barnes shot a final-round 74. Zach Johnson was the last repeat winner here in 2009. Americans have largely dominated this event.
The Oaks at TPC San Antonio is a par-72 measuring as long as 7,435 yards. The course record is a 63.
Golf Odds: Valero Texas Open Favorites
For the second week in a row, Kuchar is the Bovada favorite , this time at +1800. He always makes the cut here, but then he pretty much does that everywhere. His only time close to contending was a T4 three years ago.
Hoffman is +2000 . He was in contention the first three rounds at the Masters. Since 2011, Hoffman hasn't finished worse than 13th in San Antonio with a second (2011) and third (2013) in addition to his win.
The favorites are rounded out by Brendan Steele, Brooks Koepka and Ryan Moore, all at +2200. Steele won here in 2011 and was fourth in 2012 and eighth in 2015. Koepka hasn't done much here in his two trips. Moore last played in 2012 and was eighth. He comes off a Top 10 at Augusta.
Golf Odds: Valero Texas Open Picks
For a Top 10, go with Hoffman (+175), Jimmy Walker (+200) and Ryan Palmer (+275), who has been no worse than T6 here the past two years. For top Aussie, I like Matt Jones at +500. I'll go again with Donald on a nationality prop, now at +300 as top Euro. Not a heck of a lot of props available on this tournament.
Head-to-head, take Keegan Bradley (-115) over Kevin Na (-115), Reed (-125) over Donald (-105), Kevin Chappell (even) over Steele (-130), and Hoffman (-120) over Grace (-110).
Hoffman is my winner as he's a horse for the course and it has been proven not especially tough to repeat at this event.
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