Valero Texas Open Betting Preview

Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

With only one week to go before the Masters, the PGA Tour heads to San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open. The winner of the tournament, assuming he isn’t already qualified, will receive the last entry into the Masters next week at Augusta National.
 
2013 Valero Texas Open Fact Sheet

  • Course: AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio
  • Location: San Antonio, Texas
  • Yardage: 7,435 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Ben Curtis
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel, Matt Kuchar, Fredrik Jacobson and Ian Poulter

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 to 3:00 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (NBC)
  • Sunday –  1:00 to 3:00 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (NBC)

AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio
 
The Greg Norman/Sergio Garcia design took over the hosting rights for the event back in 2010, and it has typically played as one of the tougher tracks on the PGA Tour in its three years in the rotation, with average scores of 73.67, 73.71 and 73.99 on the par-72 layout. Norman did listen to some player concerns recently in all areas of the course, removing some of the runoff areas and flattening several greens, as well as widening a few fairways and shortening the rough, but it’s still going to be one of the tougher courses on the tour this year. The fairways are still narrower than most, and the bunkers here are the deepest you’ll find outside of an Open Championship layout. How difficult did it play last year? Courtesy Rob Bolton of PGATour.com:
 

Last year, it ranked ninth in fairways hit (53.11 percent), fourth in greens in regulation (55.26 percent), fourth in proximity to the hole (39 feet, 3 inches) and 14th in scrambling (54.51 percent). Its set of four pars 5s (Nos. 2, 8, 14 and 18) averaged 4.96, highest among all non-majors for the second consecutive year. The par 3s ranked T7 at 3.14 while the par 4s finished T6 at 4.16.

 
Thankfully for the PGA Tour, the chance for disastrous weather this week is pretty much non-existent, but the winds will be heavy as usual, especially in Thursday’s opening round. Full course flyover courtesy of EA Sports is embedded below:
 

 
Key Storyline This Week
 
As I mentioned above, the Valero is the last tournament before the Masters, and there is still one spot open for the player who wins this week if they aren’t already qualified. If the player who wins is qualified, no one else will be added. One player who doesn’t need to qualify for the Masters is Rory McIlroy, who was a late entry into the field this week on the advice of caddie JP Fitzgerald, who thinks that the Northern Irishman is close to getting it all back, but he needs more reps. I think McIlroy finishes well this week, but expecting a win from anyone on a course they’ve never played isn’t usually the best idea. He’ll be in the mix at the end next week at Augusta, but I just don’t see it happening for him at TPC San Antonio.
 
Memorable Moment
 
Not all moments are memorable for good reasons. The par-4 9th is typically one of the harder holes on the course, playing as the number one handicap hole in two of the tournament’s three years, but it’s not as difficult as Kevin Na made it look in the 2011 Valero Texas Open. Na made a 16 in the opening round of the tournament, which you can watch in the video below:
 

 
Suggested Plays (All each-way)
 
Fredrik Jacobson (Best Odds 25-1 at Paddy Power)
Jacobson might have the ugliest swing on the PGA Tour, but the Junk Man can really play. He’s got five consecutive top-25 appearances worldwide, and despite not playing in about a month, he managed to qualify for the Masters last week based on the performances of other players, so he won’t have that Masters pressure looming over his head all week. In his three appearances at TPC San Antonio, he’s finished runner-up, T-5 and T-18.
 
Ian Poulter (Best Odds 28-1 at Coral)
Poulter’s never played at TPC San Antonio, and I know I just said above that it’s not overly wise to place money on course rookies, but Poulter’s game suits the venue really well. He hits tons of fairways and is always going to be a threat because he’s such a good putter. 28-1 is a really good price for a player of his quality.
 
Cameron Tringale (Best Odds 33-1 at BetVictor)
Tringale has reeled off four top-25 finishes in his last six weeks, and has a tremendous track record at TPC San Antonio with back-to-back top-10 finishes. He’s a very good player from tee-to-green, and even when he misses, he’s one of the best scramblers on the PGA Tour. His problem usually comes on the greens, but he has the ability to go real low, as evidenced by his opening round 65 last week at the Shell.
 
Peter Hanson (Best Odds 40-1 at SkyBet)
Everything that I just said about Poulter applies to Hanson, except you can get him at an even better number. Always in the fairway, and the putter keeps him from falling too far back. He’s finished outside of the top-25 in just two tournaments since October.
 
Brendan Steele (Best Odds 51-1 at Betfair)
Outside of a T-6 in Phoenix, Steele has been dreadful in 2013, with his next best finish being a tie for 27th at the Farmers. So, why take him? He won the event here back in 2011, and he followed that up with a T-4 last year, ending up four shots back of winner Ben Curtis. That kind of track record is too good to ignore at that price.
 
Brian Davis (Best Odds 100-1 at SkyBet)
Davis is my dartboard pick this week for several reasons. First, he played well last week at the Shell, getting into a tie for 6th. Secondly, he’s known as a streaky player, so based on that finish last week, you could be catching him at a good time. Third, even when he stinks, he usually hits tons of fairways and putts well, and lastly, he also loves the Texas area, with six top-15 finishes there since 2009. With those traits, Davis seems like a good flyer at 100-1.

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