The PGA Tour stays in the Lone Star State this week for the Valero Texas Open, the last event before the first major of the season.
The tournament is normally staged after the Masters tournament, but has been moved to precede it this year. As such, a number of big names are in the field.
World number two Rory McIlroy is one of those players, and he’ll be looking to find some form before making the trip to Augusta National.
The in-form Charl Schwartzel, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter and Peter Hanson will also be in the field this week.
Ben Curtis won his third PGA Tour title at last season‘s Valero Texas Open, and he’ll be confident of repeat success after a strong showing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The tournament will be staged at the TPC San Antonio, a 7,500-yard track that’s characterised by large bunkers, sprawling greens and fairways lined by mature oak trees.
Last year, it played as the hardest course outside of the four majors, but the course has been softened, the rough has been shortened and some fairways have been widened.
McIlroy is the 10/1 favourite with Ladbrokes this week, but given his indifferent start to the season, I’d be tempted to look elsewhere.
Matt Kuchar, at 12/1 with Ladbrokes, looks a good bet this week. The consistent American has made a fine start to the season, winning his first WGC at the Accenture Matchplay in February. He finished 13th here last season, and is well suited to a golf course that requires a solid all-round game.
Freddie Jacobson, at 20/1 with Ladbrokes, can’t be overlooked this week. The Swede hasn’t finished outside the top 25 in his last five PGA Tour starts, including a third-place finish at the Northern Trust Open. This season, he ranks fourth in Strokes Gained – Putting and second in Scoring Average, and his record at the Valero Texas Open is very good. Indeed, he’s finished inside the top ten in two of his last three starts here.
John Huh, at 50/1 with Ladbrokes, is generously priced this week.
The 2012 Rookie of the Year hasn’t made the best start to the season,
but he played some fine golf two weeks ago at the Arnold Palmer
Invitational. What’s more, his record in Texas in good, and he finished
in a tie for second last year at this event.
Brendon de Jonge, at 66/1 with Ladbrokes, is worth keeping an eye on this week. The Zimbabwean is yet to record his first PGA Tour victory, but he’s shown some encouraging signs of late. He finished 11th at the Perto Rico Open and tenth last week at the Shell Houston Open. His course form is modest, but his sharp short game and accurate driving will stand him in good stead here.
Ken Duke, at 150/1 with Ladbrokes, is worth an each way bet this week. The veteran American missed the cut last week at the Shell Houston Open, but showed some positive signs with a top ten at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He currently ranks second on the PGA Tour in Driving Accuracy, fifth in Approaches from 125-150 yards and sixth in Approaches from 175-200 yards.
Valero Texas Open advised bets:
2pts each way on Matt Kuchar at 12/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Freddie Jacobson at 20/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on John Huh at 50/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Brendon de Jonge at 66/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Ken Duke at 150/1 with Ladbrokes