The PGA Tour heads to San Antonio this week for a tournament that’s been on golf’s calendar since 1922. The Valero Texas Open is the last but one Tour event before the US Masters and there’s a strong field heading to the AT&T Oaks Course to get into shape before the first Major of the year. Keep reading for our preview of this weekend’s event.
A tricky course and conditions face the Tour players
The Valero Texas Open has been played in San Antonio since 1922. Every winner of the tournament since 1932 has won the tournament with a score under par and the course was the site of Tommy Armour III’s PGA Tour 72 hole scoring record of 254 in 2003.
The quartet of par 5 holes on the JW Marriot is tricky to negotiate – they averaged 4.88 strokes in 2013 – and the weather could also be a factor. The field will have to contend with the wind in San Antonio and there could be a risk of thunderstorms early on.
Big Phil back in action and leads the betting
In our Valero Open golf odds, the ante-post favourite is a man who has barely played in 2014, is awaiting his first top 10 finish of the season and hasn’t played this tournament since his debut in 1992. However, when the man in question is Phil Mickelson, he needs to be taken seriously.
Mickelson finished T16 at Doral in his last start but we’ll be looking elsewhere for value this week.
Picking up shots on the tricky par 5 holes could be key to success this weekend. It is no coincidence that last year’s winner Martin Laird ranked first in par-5 scoring at last year’s Texas Open and so backing players who regularly pick up shots on par 5s could be profitable.
Ryan Palmer has recorded two second place finishes on the Tour already this year and has recorded a score of birdie or better on 55 of the 96 par 5 holes he has played this season. He finished T15 at this event in 2013 and we fancy him to go well here at 22/1.
Jimmy Walker leads the FedEx points race this season after three wins already on the Tour in 2013/4. He finished T3 at this event in 2010 although his best finish since then was a T31 last year. On current form he should be there or thereabouts at 20/1.
In four attempts, Charley Hoffman’s worst finish at the Texas Open is T13. He finished T3 last year and has three top ten finishes to his name this season. He could also be one to watch at 22/1.
Outsiders to watch
We’ve been keeping an eye on the progress of young Japanese player Ryo Ishikawa over recent weeks. Another man who is in the Tour’s top 10 of par 5 scorers – a birdie or better on 53 per cent of his par 5 holes this season – the 22 year old has recorded four top ten finishes this season including T8 at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. He looks great value at 55/1.
A man who would dearly love to exorcise some demons in this tournament is Kevin Na. The 30 year-old has finished in the top four on four occasions this season including a second place finish at the Valspar Championship a fortnight ago.
Na famously scored a 12 over par 16 on the 9th hole in his opening round in 2011 and would love to put that horror show to bed by taking his second Tour win. He can be backed at 35/1.
Scotsman Martin Laird is the reigning champion and is available at 45/1 while 2012 winner Brendan Steele is available at 30/1.
Check out all our pre-tournament odds on the 2014 Valero Texas Open over in the golf betting section of our main site.
The event tees off at 12.30 UK time tomorrow, March 27th. Who do you fancy for the title?