Who to back at the Valero Texas Open
The PGA Tour moves from one extreme to the other this week as it swaps Harbour Town for TPC San Antonio; a classical tree-lined layout with small greens favouring the accurate player, to the home of the Valero Texas Open that undoubtedly suits big hitters and strong iron players.
Look at the winners here since the tournament moved to this venue in 2010: Adam Scott, Brendan Steele, Jimmy Walker, Charley Hoffman, Kevin Chappell. Of course, you have the outliers of Zach Johnson and Ben Curtis, but generally, the winner of this tournament is someone that is an established ball-striker who can take advantage of the long par-4s.
I’ll start with the outside bets…
Valero Texas Open betting: Keel’s each-way bets
Scott Piercy is bound to go close soon – he leads the tour in ‘strokes gained: approach’ and was 5th in that very statistic at Harbour Town last week where he finished 16th. The 39-year-old fits the trend of being a good ball-striker but not a great putter – which is seemingly the formula for success here. His course record is hardly inspiring but it’s not exactly poor either. He’s certainly worth a look at 66/1.
JB Holmes also fits the bill at a similar price. The American is one of the longest hitters on tour and if he’s to win again, this is exactly the sort of course he’ll be targeting. Indeed, he has a sneaky good record around the Oaks course here, where he’s finished inside the top-13 three times in five starts.
Holmes’ season hasn’t been great so far. The 4th place finish at the Farmers Insurance Open has been the only highlight, but his stats have been good in his previous two starts. A good week on the greens will likely see him contend.
I’m also having a speculative punt on Martin Piller. The Texan notched his very first PGA Tour top-10 on this course two years ago, and finished 4th on the Greg Norman designed El Camaleon Golf Club at the beginning of the season. He’s also the sort of player that can spring a good performance out of nowhere. At 200/1, he’s worth chancing.
Who is Keel backing for the main prize in Texas? His top tip is on the next page…