Expect a pretty interesting week on The PGA Tour this week with weather coming into play again at The Valero Texas Open. Check our golf picks inside.
Last year at this event, held at The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio, 25 to 30 mile per hour winds wreaked havoc on the first couple of days of the tournament and blew scores up to some of the highest on average, on Tour all year. This year, it will be in the form of rain giving the players fits. The golf course received an inch of rain on Sunday and nearly another inch and a half on Monday. While the golf course will obviously be pretty soft and moist, reports are that it is holding up very nicely and the forecast calls for a let up in rainfall by Friday morning. While it ought to be a fairly muddy and sloppy week in the fairways, it could make for some excellent scoring with the greens being so wet and receptive. That would be a welcomed change for the players as TPC San Antonio is one of the more challenging courses that they play on the entire Tour calendar.
The Texas Open is one of the oldest, longest running events on The PGA Tour. It has moved around from different courses over the years and is now in its seventh year of being held at TPC San Antonio. The Oaks Course is a Greg Norman design with Sergio Garcia serving as the player consultant. There is not really a definitive set of skills required to succeed on this track which speaks to its difficulty, from both a player and handicapping perspective. Accurate but shorter drivers of the golf ball have fared very well here but long bombers who are not so accurate have won here too, including last year's defending champion, Jimmy Walker. Probably the most telling statistics year in and year out have been Greens In Regulation, Putting, Scrambling, and Birdie Average. One will need to make birdies to separate themselves from the field as the scoring average at this event tends to be over par. Again, that could deviate some this year with the rain possibly making for easier scoring conditions.
Let's take a look at what the oddsmakers are making of The Valero Texas Open.
Jimmy Walker (15-1) at William Hill - Walker hails from Texas, so the defending champion gets a bit of a "home game" here this week. Walker has finished 1st, 16th, and 31st in the last three years but missed the cut in two consecutive years prior to that.
Branden Grace (20-1) at Ladbrokes - The South African is fresh off of his first ever victory on The PGA Tour, winning last week at The RBC Heritage. He has played here the last two seasons, finishing 30th and 79th. A good wind player but the wind may not be the weather factor of concern this week as noted.
Patrick Reed (20-1) Another native Texan, Reed has only played this event twice, missing the cut in 2013 and finishing 35th in 2012. His Driving Accuracy has improved and his work around the greens is amongst the best in the game.
Matt Kuchar (20-1) Kuchar turned in another solid performance last week at The RBC Heritage, a course at which he has had great success. He comes in here this week with a 15th, a 4th, 22nd, and a 13th in the only four times he's played the event at this particular course.
Phil Mickelson (25-1) Mickelson tees it up this week for the first time since his very atypical missed cut at The Masters just two weeks ago. He's only played here twice, finishing 30th last season and missing the cut the year prior. Against a relative weaker field this week, Mickelson may be the cream that rises to the top.
Brooks Koepka (25-1) Koepka is a world class talent but hasn't really been able to break through yet this year as he has done in recent years past. This is only his second trip to The Valero, finishing 36th in his first appearance two seasons ago.
The Long Shots
Ryan Palmer (40-1) at Bet365 - Palmer is another Texas product who has taken advantage of his knowledge on how to play courses and conditions in his home state, finishing 6th here last year and 56th and 15th before that.
Jason Kokrak (40-1) Kokrak had a chance on Sunday last week at Hilton Head before ending up with a 6th place finish. He has one other Top 10 on Tour this season and has finished 11th, 31st, and 15th the last three years here in San Antonio.
Daniel Summerhays (50-1) As the 117th ranked player in the world, one would not expect much out of Summerhays but he butters his bread here at The Valero with three straight Top 10 finishes in the last three seasons; a 4th, a 2nd, and a 7th place finish.
Charley Hoffman (25-1) Hoffman is a real mystery when you look at his stats. Week in and week out, he does not rank very high but all he seems to do is cash big checks. He finished 14th last week at Harbour Town and 29th the week before that at The Masters. In his career, playing The Texas Open, he is a model of consistent success, tallying four Top 10 finishes and five Top 15's. I'll take him with my betting picks to get to the winner's circle this time around.