This week we preview the 2015 Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, with less than three weeks left until The Masters begins.
As my colleague the Grateful Golfer has already alluded to, the Valero Texas Open is the most important tournament of the year for those players yet to qualify for the Masters. The weaker field, in contrast to the one that tees off at the Shell Houston Open, presents a massive opportunity for the lesser lights of the PGA Tour. With this in mind, we attempt to pick a winner of the Valero Texas Open after placing with Kevin Na last week.
On a wind-affected Sunday at last years tournament, defending champion Steven Bowditch (175/1 to retain with PP) shot a final round 76 and still won with a shot to spare. The 7,435 yards, par 72 AT&T Oaks course has hosted the event since 2010, with previous winners on the course including Brendan Steele, Martin Laird and Ben Curtis.
Before we begin, it’s interesting to note the open nature of the PGA Tour lately: The Arnold Palmer Invitational was the ninth week in a row where the 54-hole leader hasn’t won.
Zach Johnson (30/1 SportingBet)
Johnson has won back-to-back titles in this event (2008-09), which explains his relatively short odds. Boasting a top-six finish at TPC San Antonio last year, and a top-ten finish at Bay Hill last week, the former Masters winner is justified in being one of the favourites for the Valero Texas Open.
Harris English (45/1 Betfred)
At 53rd in the World Golf Rankings, English will be hoping to seize the opportunity here to make it into the top fifty and book his place to Augusta. With a second place finish at the Farmers Insurance Open in February, and being within the top 30 on Tour for driving distance and greens in regulation, English should be thereabouts on Sunday.
Charley Hoffmann (50/1 PaddyPower)
Hoffmann has four top-tens at this event, including a runner-up finish in 2011. At a lofty 12th place in the FedEx Cup rankings, Hoffmann is currently 11th in driving distance – which is helpful on a course measuring almost 7,500 yards.
Fredrik Jacobson (100/1 Coral)
Staggering course form from Freddie – who hasn’t finished outside the top-20 in his last six starts at the Valero Texas Open. While his overall form this year leaves a lot to be desired, he remains fifth on the Tour in strokes gained putting this season, and has had only 4 three-putts all season.
At 100/1, Jacobson is worth an E/W bet (or indeed, a top-20 finish bet).