Stan James are offering 6 places Each Way at the Valero Texas Open - for full prices and details click here: Stan James
Let's face it, all good runs must come to an end and after a string of strong tournaments at PGA National, Doral, Copperhead, Bay Hill, Redstone, Augusta and Harbour Town the wheels have totally come off this week with the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, Texas. For a fully-fledged PGA Tour event with full Fed Ex Cup points on offer, a prize fund of $6.2 million and a winning prize of $1,160,000 all up for grabs, the field is extremely weak. To read our stats page for the Valero Texas Open click here: Valero Texas Open Stats
The weakness of the field in many ways is actually a compliment to the Greg Norman designed AT&T Oaks course which isn't your typical US golf course. The course itself is an incredibly long Par 72, with extremely tight landing areas, deep bunkers and extremely hard green complexes. Making hay on the Par 5s is difficult as well with 2 +600 yard Par 5s amongst the 4 in total. Indeed the AT&T Oaks course was the hardest Par 72 on the whole PGA Tour in 2011 and that includes Augusta, Bay Hill, Quail Hollow and Muirfield. Throw in the notoriously strong Texan winds which are set to seriously blow on the weekend, especially Saturday, and you have one hell of a test that the established named players are more than prepared to sidestep.
So let's give credit to Matt Kuchar who is the only player from inside the World's Top 25 to venture to TPC San Antonio this week. As we know, Kuchar is a Par 72 specialist and he could get the job done in Texas this week – quite rightly he sits at No2 in this week's Valero Predictor Model. However I'm staying away from the maximum 12/1 on offer for the Florida based 'Kooch' on the basis that this isn't your typical wide-open Par 72.
So who to pick? For me as ever I'm looking for hungry players who will see this week as a major opportunity to win a full 2-year PGA Tour exemption and qualify for The Masters in 2013. I'm looking for proven winners who haven't necessarily had a stellar start to 2012, but who have shown enough in recent weeks to have confidence coming into the tournament. With the wind set to blow, players that are comfortable in those conditions are a must and I'm also focussing on those who have decent records at TPC Sawgrass, TPC Four Seasons and TPC Boston all of whom relate closely to 2010 Champion Adam Scott and to a lesser extent reigning champion Brendan Steele who won at a crushing 300/1.
It's also worth noting with such a difficult-to-call tournament that both Stan James and Bodog continue with their extended 6 places Each-Way terms in tandem with a £10 free bet and a £10 risk-free bet respectively for new accounts opened via Golf Betting System.
The fact that I'm tipping J.B. Holmes this week as a potential winner of the Valero Texas Open tells you everything you need to know about the resolve and determination of the Kentuckian to fight back from his brain surgery at the latter end of 2011. Awe-inspiring. Since his return at Torrey Pines in January, I've monitored Holmes closely and his recent form moving forward from Riviera reads 8-56(PGA National)-66(Puerto)-290(Bay Hill)-8-(Redstone). J.B. with his southern roots has always been Bermuda positive, indeed both of his 2 PGA Tour wins were at TPC Scottsdale in 2006 and 2008. Remember Holmes also qualified for the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in 2008 so a gap of 4 years since his last win is something that needs to be remedied and will certainly motivate this week. OK Steve, but can Holmes play technical / classical tracks? The answer to that is a resounding yes as you'll find the best results of his career at Pebble Beach: 2nd (10) Riviera: 3rd (10), TPC Sawgrass: 6th (11) and Aronimink 5th (10). 2nd at Redstone behind Paul Casey in 2009 and 11th last time out at TPC Boston are also worthy of note. There wouldn't be a dry eye in the house if Holmes was to triumph against adversity this week in San Antonio but his current upward form allied to 11th (11) and 13th (10) on his 2 appearances here suggest to me it could just happen this week. RESULT: MC
The early 40/1 about The Hoff is long gone and it's easy to see why. Charley finally found the putter at Harbour Town and on the most unlikely track on the whole PGA Tour circuit he delivered a creditable season's best 8th places last week. His previous best on the South Carolina coast had been 75th! That makes him an extremely dangerous animal this week on a course he loves and in a State where he traditionally thrives. There is a definite link between AT&T Oaks and TPC Boston so Hoffman's stunning win in Massachusetts back in 2010 adds real credence to his selection this week. His -9 closing round in windy conditions that day is also seriously worthy of note. His record in Texas is also first class. He finished 2nd to Brendan Steele here last season (his only Top 5 of 2011) and also finished 8th and 9th at this tournament when it was hosted at La Cantera in 06/09. Add a 7th and 8th at Four Seasons in 06/08 plus a 6th at Redstone in 2008 and you start to see a player who thrives in the Lone Star State. If the putter stays warm this week Hoffman contends in my view. RESULT: T13
So we are looking for a player who thrives on long technical golf courses, can play well in the wind and who primarily thrives on Bermuda carpet. That will be Ryan Palmer then. I'm a keen fan of the Texan who can only be described as a Bermuda monster. His 3 PGA Tour wins have all been on Bermuda greened courses – Disney (04), Conservatory (08), Waialae (10). Palmer has a rare ability that marks him out as one to watch in the future as he is able to play well on all formats both tough technical tracks and courses where low scores are required. That's borne out by Top 10 results across 09 – 11 at Montreaux (Par 72), Waialae, Firestone (+7,400 Yard Par 70), Ridgewood, TPC Summerlin, PGA West (Par 72), Augusta (Par 72), TPC Four Seasons and The Mines. He was also 9th here on debut at AT&T Oaks back in 2010 and is one of the rare breed this week that has played both the 2010 and 2011 tournament renewals so has plenty of course experience. 2nd in high winds at TPC Four Seasons behind Keegan Bradley last year, Ryan has started 2012 solidly and his recent form-line reads MC(Augusta)-21(Redstone)-MC(Bay Hill)-26(PGA National)-24(Riviera)-29(Pebble). He's ready to pop up on a leaderboard soon and I'm encouraged both by his long approach game which is excellent right now in combination with his fantastic putting where he ranks 5th in the Stokes Gained Putting category in 2012. RESULT: T32
I've resisted jumping on board the renowned enigma that is John Rollins so far this season and here's why: his 2012 season reads 20-MC-20-MC-MC-MC-8-3-66-10. If John Rollins will always be one thing it will be inconsistent so I will never dive in when he isn't at the very least backable Each Way. For me though, Rollins will win in 2012 and it's likely to be at a track where he comes totally from left field with no expectation in his mind whatsoever – TPC San Antonio sounds perfect as his visits in 2010 and 2011 yielded 2 Missed Cuts, but the fact that he's playing again this week highlights to me that he knows the course actually suits his game, after all here's a player who thrives on Par 72 tracks both technical and classical. Indeed the Texas resident is playing brilliantly in 2012 where he sits 3rd in Total Driving, 26th in Greens in Regulation, 7th in Ball Striking, 19th in Birdie Average and 13th / 31st in Par 4/Par 5 PGA Tour categories season to date. That's the perfect blend for the AT&T Oaks course. 3rd at Torrey Pines, 8th at TPC Scottsdale and 10th at Waialae early in the season highlight that Rollins can play classical courses and Bermuda greens well and if the putter warms a little this week the 3 time PGA Tour winner whose last win was on the Montreaux Par 72 can contend. RESULT: MC
I'll finish with Las Vegas resident Ryan Moore who is a 'mean' classical / technical course and Par 72 track player. He's never played at AT&T Oaks before so has obviously selected to make his debut in the belief the course should suit and I'm thinking exactly the same thing. I'll be the first to admit that Moore favours bent greens, but he can play just as well on Bermuda carpet when his putter is in order and preferring Bent greens never worried Carl Pettersson last week! Ryan Moore for me should have won far more than the single PGA Tour title he's secured so far at Sedgefield in 2009, but the World Number 71 - who was ranked as high as 37 back in August last season - is a class act in my eyes. Sure enough he has a list of recent Bermuda Top 10s at PGA West: 5th (08) and 10th (10), Kapalua: 6th (10), TPC Scottsdale: 6th (09), Copperhead: 8th (07) and Bay Hill: 4th (11). Naturally the Bay Hill result 4 weeks back was in the wind and confirmed that Moore is starting to build momentum again after a sluggish start to 2012. 2nd at TPC Four Seasons in 2008 plus 2nd (07), 5th (10) and 10th (08) at the classical Par 72 at Muirfield simply adds fuel to the flames as does 10th (11) and 12th (06) at TPC Boston. RESULT: T8
Our tips, picks and predictions for the 2013 edition of this event will be published here on the Tuesday before the event - bookmark this page and come back soon!