PGA Tour in Texas Hill & Wind Country for Valero Texas Open

Brady Kannon

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 2:11 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 19, 2017 2:11 PM UTC

A wide-open PGA Tour field in Texas this week as the favorite is trading at better than 20-to-1. Steady wind, maybe a litte rain, clouds, sunshine and a very stern test of golf await the players at TPC San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open.

After touching down in Houston three weeks ago, the PGA Tour gives us another taste of the Lone Star State this week before returning again in a month to cap off the Texas Swing. It's the Valero Texas Open, taking place at the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. It's the 3rd-oldest tournament on Tour and it has been held at TPC San Antonio since 2010. In its seven years of action, the Oaks Course has proven to be one of the more difficult tests the players face during the season and much of that has to do with the wind that typically blows in southern Texas. This week's weather should provide a little bit of everything with sunshine, clouds, 10-20 mph winds and even a chance of thunderstorms Saturday. It doesn't appear that things will get too crazy as they did in 2015, but the conditions will be enough of a factor keep things plenty interesting for both golfers and sports bettors.

The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio is a Greg Norman design and recent Masters champion Sergio Garcia served as a player consultant in the design. Both of these players are tremendous ball-strikers, drivers of the golf ball and play well in windy conditions. All of this will be needed this week. Length off of the tee is certainly helpful, but one must be fairly accurate too and avoid the heavily wooded areas off of the fairways. The greens are relatively large, but when the wind blows it can be difficult to hit them in regulation, so scrambling comes in handy here as well. Interestingly, the four Par 5s at Par 72 Oaks Course have never ranked lower than the fourth-hardest set of long holes on Tour since the first playing of the tournament here in 2010 -- so scoring on the Par 5s will go a long way in separating from the field.

Finally, if you are going to look at another tournament and golf course where you will find a great deal of crossover success, check out the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Some similarities in the Bermuda Grasses used at each property, often quite a bit of wind blowing at this course along the Riviera Maya in Cancun, and it too is a Greg Norman design.


The Favorites

Matt Kuchar (+20290 Pinnacle): It is not exactly a sign of dominance when the top favorite is 20-to-1 or so. Kuchar has made the cut in all five tries here at TPC San Antonio and has three Top-15 finishes. His last two Sundays have been incredible at the Masters and at the RBC Heritage.

Charley Hoffman (+2250 Bookmaker): Hoffman is the absolute best horse for this course in having never finished worse than 13th. He won here last year. In that win and in his other two Top-3 finishes, he is a combined 24 under par on the Par 5s.

Brooks Koepka (+2485 Bookmaker): Koepka has really struggled this season but has it coming together as of late with a 9th at the Match Play and an 11th at the Masters. He was cut at the Valero last year and finished 36th in his debut in 2015.


The Contenders

Brendan Steele (+2499 Bookmaker): Other than being cut and finishing 46th, Steele has gone 13-8-4-1 here, with the win in 2011. He's very strong tee to green, in the Par 5 Scoring and is No. 1 on Tour in Scrambling.

Ryan Moore (+2688 Bookmaker): Moore has only played the Oaks Course once and that was in 2012 when he finished 8th. He knows how to play in wind from his days at UNLV, and he is coming off of a 9th-place finish at the Masters.

Jimmy Walker (+2800 5Dimes): A home game for Walker, who has plenty of experience playing in Texas. He won here in 2015 when the wind was gale force. His stats don't tell the story, but he's been getting it done, finishing 18th at the Masters in his last start.


The Long Shots

Luke List (+4500 5Dimes): He tops the "list" in the stats this week and he's been very solid all year in the wind and in Texas, finishing 7th at Mayakoba, 13th at the Sony in Hawaii, and 3rd three weeks ago in Houston.

Ian Poulter (+7500 5Dimes): An interesting story here as Poulter needs to make just a few more bucks this week to earn his way back onto the Tour full time per the terms of his major medical exemption. He'll do so with a finish no worse than a two-way tie for 36th place. He helped his cause last week with an 11th at the Heritage.

Matt Jones (+13000 5Dimes): Australians are typically good wind players, and it shows with Jones, who has only missed one cut at TPC San Antonio in five tries. He does everything very well and is ranked 18th on Tour in Par 5 Scoring.


The Pick

Graeme McDowell (+8000 5Dimes): The Northern Irishman has always been known for exceptional iron play, accuracy off of the tee and great putting. He'll need all of that this week in the Texas breeze. He's been playing very well this season with three Top-25 finishes and only one missed cut since the first week in November. McDowell was 24th at Mayakoba and won there last year. Another windy venue, he took 14th at the Honda back in March and is coming off of a very steady 29th place finish last week at Harbour Town. He's said that he loves this course and 80-1 is an awful nice price for someone I feel has a realistic shot to contend for the win this week.

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