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Valero Texas Open Preview
by Matt Fargo - 05/11/2010
First off congratulations goes out to Tim Clark who finally broke through with his first PGA Tour title after 206 starts after winning THE PLAYERS Championship this past weekend. With the “fifth major” in the books, it is time to rest for most big names in golf while other will be grinding it out once again in the Valero Texas Open this week from the AT&T Oaks Course in San Antonio. This is the first year that the Oaks will host this event as it took place at the La Cantera GC-Resort Course the last 15 years.
This is the first time in 15 years the Valero Texas Open will take place on a different track and that means a lot of the past history can be tossed away. However, this is still in Texas and Texas golf is still in effect so those who can hit through wind and keep the ball low will be rewarded. Temperatures are to hit 90 the first two days with winds likely pretty strong. This Greg Norman designed layout emphasizes ball string while distance is a plus as well.
Of the 156 players in the field this week, only 52 took part in THE PLAYERS last week. Of those, most either missed the cut or were way off the leaderboard as only six players who finished in the top 20 are in San Antonio this week. Bo Van Pelt (T4), Chris Stroud (T10), Fredrik Jacobson (T10), J.B. Holmes (T13), John Rollins (T13) and Troy Matteson (T17) are those who bring some momentum into this week and will look to ride that into a win.
There are only five players in the field who have played and made the cut in each of the last four years. Normally that would be a huge bonus but seeing they will be on a new course, it makes it pretty tough to handicap based on past performances from La Cantera. They need to be taken into consideration based on the “Texas Golf” as mentioned earlier but recent form this season may be more important this week than most others.
Zach Johnson (+1500) is the two-time defending champion at the Valero as he won over James Driscoll in a playoff last year after winning in 2008 by two strokes. Johnson started the year strong but has only one top 25 in his last seven events, which came last week. He looked as though he could make a move at Sawgrass last week but closed with a Sunday 75, putting him into a tie for 22nd place.
Ernie Els (+1000) was a late entry into the Valero but tournament officials are more than happy to get the PGA Tour's current money leader into the field. Els is coming off a missed cut at THE PLAYERS but has been very solid this season with wins at WGC-CA Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year. This is his debut in San Antonio but he is only player in the top ten in the OWGR teeing it up this week.
Bo Van Pelt (+2000) was impressive all week at THE PLAYERS as he carded all four rounds under par to finish in the top five in his third straight event. He got the monkey off his back last year with a win in Milwaukee and he has quietly played well ever since. He did not play the Valero last year but finished T44 and T11 in 2009 and 2008 respectively. Whether that matters on a new course remains to be seen.
Charley Hoffman (+3000) is a player to watch out for this week. He finished T22 at Sawgrass last week so he has something to build from and he has a great history here. Hoffman has made the cut each of the last four years, one of only five players to do so, with finishes of T9, T70, T11 and T8. He obviously loves it at the Oaks Course and he comes in with three straight made cuts. The last two Sunday scores of 78 and 77 are a concern though.
Sergio Garcia (+2500) will be at the Texas Open for the first time since 2002 and while the course has yet to host a tournament, he may have a little bit of an inside edge this week. Garcia served as player consultant for AT&T Oaks designer Norman so he knows some ins and outs that other players do not and that can be a big advantage. He finished T47 last week and has only one missed cut this year.
As for a longshot this week, let’s take a look at Troy Matteson (+6000). He is coming off a solid finish at THE PLAYERS, finishing T17 and he brings that into San Antonio where he has made the cut in each of the last two years. Let’s not forget he is a two-time winner on tour already, taking home the Frys.com Open in 2006 and 2009 and while his year has been average, the average field can bring out some of these lesser known guys.
Recommended Tournament Win Bets at the Valero Texas Open
Sergio Garcia (+2500)
Bo Van Pelt (+2000)
Charlie Hoffman (+3000)
Troy Matteson (+6000)