This article is part of our Golf Picks series.
Valero Texas Open Betting Preview
We’re just one week away from the Masters, but before we get there the PGA Tour heads to the Lone Star State for the annual Valero Texas Open, held on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.
Most of those teeing it up at Augusta are taking the week off, with only nine players in next week’s field looking to fine-tune their game in advance of the year’s first major. The field is headlined by Tyrrell Hatton — who checks in with 12-1 odds — and a trip down Magnolia Lane remains available for this week’s winner,
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Par 72, 7,438 yards
Average Strokes Gained Rankings: Winners Since 2017
- SG: Off-the-Tee: 14.8
- SG: Approach: 6.6
- SG: Around-the-Green: 36.6
- SG: Putting: 19.6
- SG: Tee-to-Green: 2.6
- Driving Distance: 29.2
- Driving Accuracy: 32.6
Iron and tee-to-green play stand out as two key factors this week, with each of the last five winners ranking top-5 for the tournament in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. Driving play doesn’t tend to be a huge factor, as the fairways are narrow and the rough is minimal/playable, and the par-5s are long and difficult with most of the longer hitters not reaching the green in two. With five par-4s playing 410 yards or less, we’ll also see a lot of wedge approaches, so I’ll be targeting those who fare well from 125 yards and in. I also like bogey avoidance as a stat to consider given how difficult this course played last year.
Sizzling in San Antonio
The following golfers have the lowest scoring average at TPC San Antonio over the last five tournaments.
Glover tops the list, having put together three straight impressive performances which have resulted in finishes of T14, fourth and T18 last year. Something will have to give between his solid track record and his current form, as the 43-year-old has struggled mightily this season, with a best finish of T36 in 12 starts. TPC San Antonio has arguably been Hoffman’s favorite venue — in 12 career appearances he has racked up nine top-15s, including a win in 2016 and runner-up results two of the past three years. Similarly to Glover, age seems to be catching up to Hoffman, who has made only four cuts through 14 starts, and he isn’t being given much respect by the oddsmakers at 110-1 to win.
Going Strong in Tee-to-Green
These five golfers, on a per-round basis, gained the most strokes from tee to green over their last 20 rounds.
Hatton has been by far the best player in the field from the tee box to the putting surface, gaining more than half a shot per round than anyone else over his last 20 rounds. That has not resulted in a win, but he has come close, with three top-6 finishes over his last four stroke play events. Hatton will be making his first appearance in this event and should be a good fit considering his strong iron play and short game. Right behind him is Kirk, who checks in at 28-1. He has also played well this year, notching a win and two other top-5s over seven starts. He’s coming off a couple lackluster performances in which he struggled with his putter, and a switch back to Bermuda greens may do the trick. Kirk has a good track record here, with four top-15s in eight appearances.
Valero Texas Open Bets: Outright Picks
Si Woo Kim (22-1)
Kim was known as a streaky golfer who missed a lot of cuts and too often withdrew from tournament, but he’s bucked that trend this season, missing just one cut in 12 starts and notching six top-25s. He’s playing some of the best golf of his career, ranking 19th in SG: Tee-to-Green. He also has five straight made cuts here, one of which resulted in a top-5.
Cam Davis (50-1)
Davis’ strength will always be his driving play — he ranks 20th in SG: Off-the-Tee and 16th in driving distance this season — and his game is solid enough in the other areas to make him a threat on any course. He sprung to life with a T6 at The PLAYERS and went 2-1-0 in the match play last week, only losing to Xander Schauffele. I’ll take the risk at this number.
Adam Schenk (60-1)
I’m surprised at the oods on Schenk considering he’s coming off a runner-up result at the Valspar Championship and posted a top-10 here in 2019. He’s one of the better putters on Tour, ranking 31st in that area this season and gaining strokes on the greens in eight consecutive tournaments.
Valero Texas Open Bets: Top-10 Wagers
Alex Smalley (13-2)
We haven’t heard much from Smalley after he finished last season with back-to-back top-5s, as he’s struggled mightily with his putter this year. The ball-striking numbers are still there — he checks in 45th in SG: Tee-to-Green — and he notched a respectable T27 at the Valspar. I expect him to contend again soon.
Ben Martin (15-2)
Martin has quietly played some solid golf over the last couple months, with three top-15 finishes over five starts. He has been much better in the non-designated events, and with three straight made cuts here, I can’t pass up the value.
Peter Malnati (11-1)
Malnati had a rough Florida Swing, missing all four of his cuts, so I’m banking on a change of scenery to do him some good. Before the rough patch he had been trending in a positive direction, posting three top-20s in a four-tournament stretch. You have to dig a little deeper in these events with weaker fields, and that’s enough for me.
Valero Texas Open Bets: Head-to-Head Matchups
I’m surprised this is a coin toss, as Hossler is much longer off the tee and has a big edge in the short game, which will be needed at TPC San Antonio given how tough it is to hit greens in regulation at a high clip. Hossler recorded a T4 here last year, and Kizzire missed the cut, which he also did in four of his last six starts.
Valero Texas Open Bets: End of Round 1 Leader
Ben Griffin (55-1)
Griffin has yet to hold a first-round lead, but he has been close, finishing one shot back twice. He is also fifth in first-round scoring average this season at 68.7. Griffin has been one of the top rookies on Tour, and I like his ability to go low — he ranks 33rd in Birdie or Better Percentage.