Get the best handicapping articles and gambling advice throughout the football, basketball and baseball seasons from the world's top sports handicappers, as well as from Bovada (Bodog) Sportsbook and Casino.
Valero Texas Open Preview
by Matt Fargo - 04/17/2012
The tour leaves the southeast following a blowout victory from Carl Pettersson at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head and heads back to Texas at another difficult venue. The Valero Texas Open takes place this week from the AT&T Oaks Course in San Antonio. This is the third year that the Oaks will host this event and they received good news this week as this event will precede the Masters next year. The Shell Houston Open, which is normally before the Masters, is moving back one more week.
Even with two years played here, it is still difficult to look at how players have fared in this event and that means a lot of the past history prior to that from La Cantera 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 will be moderate and lots of sun for the weekend is forecasted. This Greg Norman designed layout emphasizes ball string while distance is a plus as well.
Last year, the Oaks was the most difficult out of 22 Par 72 courses including fifth toughest in fairways hit and fourth toughest in greens hit and the 7,435-yard layout is expected to play difficult again this year. This is a shotmakers course and that is proven with the way the par fives are played. The scoring average on those holes last year came in at just under par and that average was the highest of any other course. Only 22 players finished under par last year compared to 50 the previous year.
Last year we saw a pretty healthy field but that is not the case this year as only one player from the FedEx Cup top ten and the money list top ten are in the field, Johnson Wagner. There are no OWGR top ten players teeing it up so with no real big names, it leaves the door wide open for some surprises. Defending champion Brendan Steele is back but is the lone champion from the past four years that is back in San Antonio.
Matt Kuchar (+1,000) is the favorite this week which is no surprise as he is the highest ranked player in the field at 15th in the OWGR. He is coming off a dreadful finish at the RBC Heritage with a Sunday 77 to drop him out of contention. Still, he carded four straight top ten finishes prior to that and he should bounce back strong.
Kevin Na (+2,000) was a YouTube sensation last year after his infamous 16 on the par four ninth hole here but he took it in stride and laughed it off. What is no laughing matter though is that he is playing exceptional right now with a T4 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a T12 at the Masters and a T4 last week in Hilton Head.
Charlie Hoffman (+2,500) is coming off a T8 last week, his first top ten of the year, so that should get him moving in the right direction. Playing here will not hurt as he finished T2 last year after a T13 in 2010. It is interesting to note that before last year's runner-up here, he had no top tens coming in prior to that.
Jimmy Walker (+4,000) missed the cut here last year but that was an aberration more than the norm. Walker went to Baylor so he knows Texas golf and he proved that two years ago with a T3 finish, two shots behind champion Adam Scott. He has three top tens this year and with a light field, he will be in the mix.
For a longshot we will go with Matt Every (+6,000). He has been boom or bust this year as he has missed the cut in five events but he also has three top tens to his credit. He should continue the solid side this week following a T8 at the RBC Heritage last week and last year in San Antonio, he finished a respectable T30.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Valero Texas Open (all for One Unit)
Matt Kuchar (+1,000)
Kevin Na (+2,000)
Charlie Hoffman (+2,500)
Jimmy Walker (+4,000)
Matt Every (+6,000)
Record to date after 14 events: +0.1 Units
Sony Open -5 Units
Humana Challenge -6 Units
Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units
Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Transitions Championship +6 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -4 Units
Shell Houston Open +16 Units
The Masters -6 Units
RBC Heritage -5 Units