Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Valero Texas Open Tips 2024

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Congratulations if you were on Stephan Jaeger at the Houston Open at Monday prices of up to 50/1 with Unibet. Jaeger takes the 2024 trend of long-price winners well into spring with 150/1 (Kirk), 400/1 (Murray), 300/1 (Dunlap), 125/1 (Pavon), 70/1 (Clark), 100/1 (Taylor), 80/1 (Matsuyama), 50/1(Knapp), 100/1 (Eckroat) 150/1 (Garnett), 250/1 (Malnati) and 50/1 (Jaeger). My team included another couple of runners-up in Scottie Scheffler and Taylor Moore (70/1).

The Valero Texas Open is the 2024 curtain-raiser for The Masters. Played on a stretching +7,400 yard, Par 72 track in San Antonio, Texas, this Greg Norman design is no pushover. This tournament is a bit of a nomad in terms of its PGA Tour schedule position, but when it has been played the week before The Masters we have seen Martin Laird, Corey Conners, Jordan Spieth (we were on-board), J.J. Spaun and Corey Conners win at 100/1, 200/1, 16/1, 200/1 and 20/1 respectively. The last Masters invite is also up for grabs for any non-qualified winner this week.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the Valero Texas Open, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System as The Masters approaches. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System Podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,300 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio is not your typical US golf course. This Greg Norman design is a stretching Par 72 measuring 7,438 yards and features tightish fairways at over 300 yards carry. Miss the fairway here and the rough is penal, plus there’s all manner of immovable natural hazards. Remember Kevin Na!

Greens are undulating, multi-tiered and exotic in their grass structure featuring Champion Bermudagrass overseeded with Poa Trivialis. Scoring difficulty, as is the norm in Texas, is dictated by wind strength and firmness of the course, but over recent renewals strategic sorts have been able to score nicely around here.

Oaks Course, TPC San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas: Designer: Greg Norman 2009; Course Type: Mid-Score; Medium; Par: 72; Length: 7,438 yards; Holes with Water Hazards In-Play: 3; Number of Sand Bunkers: 64; Acres of Fairway: 35; Fairways: Perennial Ryegrass & Chewing Fescue; Rough: Ryegrass & Chewing Fescue 2.25″; Greens: 6,400 sq.ft average Champion Bermudagrass overseeded with Poa Trivialis; Tournament Stimp: 11ft.

Course Scoring Average:

  • 2018: 72.37 (+0.35), Difficulty Rank of 12 of 51 courses.
  • 2019: 71.24 (-0.76), Rank 28 of 49 courses.
  • 2021: 72.48 (+0.48), Rank 15 of 51 courses.
  • 2022: 71.76 (-0.24), Rank 18 of 50 courses.
  • 2023: 72.09 (+0.09), Rank 15 of 49 courses.

Oaks Course, TPC San Antonio Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for the Oaks Course, TPC San Antonio and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen on Tour:

  • Oaks Course: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:34; 300:29; 325:27; 350:26.
  • Memorial Park: 30–40 yards at 300 yards.
  • Copperhead: 250 yards from the tee: 24 yards wide; 275:20; 300:21; 325:23 350:19.
  • TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:32; 300:30; 325:28 350:20.
  • Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:33; 300:33; 325:39 350:29.
  • PGA National: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:27 350:25.
  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26 350:28.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • Pete Dye Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26; 350:24.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:34; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 59 yards wide; 275:61; 300:65; 325:60; 350:62.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes other Greg Norman designs include:

  • Earth Course – DP World Tour Championship (DP World Tour)
  • El Camaleon GC – Mayakoba Classic
  • Signature Course, Vidanta – 2022-24 Mexico Open
  • TPC at Sugarloaf – 1997 – 2008 AT&T Classic

Course Overview: The Oaks Course layout is undoubtedly stretching, although 2018 to 2023 renewals of the Valero have seen scoring become far more accessible. 2018 saw organisers water the greens throughout, on the basis of strong winds across the opening 36 holes of play. That, in tandem with firm fairways, allowed for short and long hitters alike to strategically score around here with Andrew Landry winning with a tournament winning -17/271 total.

2019 saw 10-15 mph winds throughout and a 60mm deluge on Sunday, which delayed play and saw the surgical, strategic duo of Ryan Moore and Kevin Streelman shoot a pair of -8/64s. Another ball-striking machine in the guise of Corey Conners won his maiden PGA Tour title at a course record low -20/268 total.

2021 saw Jordan Spieth use his approach and short game magic to master a set-up which always featured firm fairways and greens that released just enough. He won by 2 shots at -18/270, although only the top 5 made double-digits under par.

2022 saw J.J. Spaun win his maiden PGA Tour title with a strong overall Tee to Green game, where greens were releasing over the weekend amidst gusting 20 mph winds. And last year course expert Corey Conners shot -8/64 on a softened course in Round 1 and never looked back, taking advantage of watered greens on Sunday to shoot -4/68 and ball-strike his way to a 1 shot victory over rookie Sam Stevens.

Fundamentally I still think that the Oaks Course makes you earn your rewards, with strong driving and strong approach play. 2022 saw a shorter course yardage, down 56 yards at 7,438 yards. The par-3 3rd and par-5 14th holes were shortened. The course now features all new bunkering after a Duininck Golf managed project started after Jordan Spieth won here in 2021.

This course though is still a stern test. A mixture of course length, intimidating tee shots, all manner of off-fairway hazards plus undulating green complexes make this course a challenge. Greens are also perched up with fairway cut around them, taking errant approaches into collection areas. It’s hardly a surprise then that the greens here traditionally rank in the top 10 hardest to hit on the PGA Tour.

Up until the last few renewals I would have told you that power hitting is undoubtedly a huge advantage here, allowing the par-5s to be unlocked, and it’s noticeable that 5 of the previous 10 winners here have led par-5 scoring in the week they triumphed: Laird (2013), Walker (2015), Hoffman (2016), Spieth (2021) and Conners (2023) shot -10, -12, -9, -10 and -10 across their 16 looks at the long holes.

But Andrew Landry played a different kind of game here in 2018, scoring equally across the par-3s, par-4s and par-5s shooting -6/-6/-5. Landry was 46th for Driving Distance that week, highlighting that average but straightish hitters can win around here.

In 2019 Corey Conners was middle of the road 28th for Driving Distance. Like Landry the year before he was in the top 10 for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, highlighting that straight, accurate hitting here is a great part of the ingredients needed for success. Plus he scored strongly across the card -4/-8/-8.

Shorter, straighter sorts can undoubtedly win here, which J.J. Spaun proved again here in 2022. 46th for Driving Distance but 9th for Driving Accuracy, he again highlighted that moderate distance / straighter sorts can gain significance strokes from Off the Tee. His scoring split was +2/-5-/10. Corey Conners last year takes this accuracy rather than length angle even further as he ranked 52 for Driving Distance and 3rd for Fairways Hit.

Typically Spieth breaks the mould slightly. 24th for Driving Distance, the key was that he was positive for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, meaning few huge errors off the tee. That allowed his amazing fairway to hole game do the rest.

Finally when you look at the last 6 winners here, Chappell ranked 2nd for SG Approach, Landry 1st, Conners (2019) 1st, Spieth 4th and Conners (2023) 1st. Spaun was a middle of the road 23rd. For me on a course that traditionally ranks as one of the hardest for Greens in Regulation when the wind blows, and also in the bottom 5 on Tour for par-5 Birdie or Better Conversion, we need to look for players who are at the top of their game iron and approach-wise.

valero texas open tips

Valero Texas Open Winners: 2023: Corey Conners (-15); 2022: J.J. Spaun (-13); 2021: Jordan Spieth (-18); 2019: Corey Conners (-20); 2018: Andrew Landry (-17); 2017: Kevin Chappell (-12); 2016: Charley Hoffman (-12); 2015: Jimmy Walker (-11); 2014: Steven Bowditch (-8); 2013: Martin Laird (-14); 2012: Ben Curtis (-9); 2011: Brendan Steele (-8); 2010: Adam Scott (-14).

  • 2023: Corey Conners 64-72-69-68 -15/273
  • 2022: J.J. Spaun 67-70-69-69 -13/275
  • 2021: Jordan Spieth 67-70-67-66 -18/270
  • 2019: Corey Conners 69-67-66-66 -20/268
  • 2018: Andrew Landry 69-67-67-68 -17/271

Path to Victory: Below are end of round positions for Valero Texas Open winners:

  • 2022 – Corey Conners: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2022 – J.J. Spaun: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 5th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2021 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2019 – Corey Conners: Round 1: 17th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2018 – Andrew Landry: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2017 – Kevin Chappell: Round 1: 19th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2016 – Charley Hoffman: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2015 – Jimmy Walker: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2014 – Steven Bowditch: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2013 – Martin Laird: Round 1: 17th, Round 2: 15th, Round 3: 7th.
  • 2012 – Ben Curtis: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2011 – Brendan Steele: Round 1: 8th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2010 – Adam Scott: Round 1: 25th, Round 2: 22nd, Round 3: 6th.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the Valero Texas Open winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2022 – Corey Conners: Round 1: 2 ahead, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2022 – J.J. Spaun: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2021 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2019 – Corey Conners: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2018 – Andrew Landry: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2017 – Kevin Chappell: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2016 – Charley Hoffman: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2015 – Jimmy Walker: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 2014 – Steven Bowditch: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 8 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2013 – Martin Laird: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 5 back.
  • 2012 – Ben Curtis: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 3 ahead.
  • 2011 – Brendan Steele: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2010 – Adam Scott: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 3 back.

OWGR of Valero Texas Open Winners: 2023: Conners 40; 2022: Spaun 242; 2021: Spieth 53; 2019: Conners 196; 2018: Landry 114; 2017: Chappell 41.

Cut Line: 2023: E; 2022: -1; 2021: +2; 2019: -1; 2018: +1; 2017: E.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2023: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -11; Round 3 -12; Round 4 -15.
  • 2022: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -10; Round 4 -13.
  • 2021: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -9; Round 3 -12; Round 4 -18.
  • 2019: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -12; Round 3 -15; Round 4 -20.
  • 2018: Round 1 -5; Round 2 -9; Round 3 -13; Round 4 -17.
  • 2017: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -8; Round 3 -8; Round 4 -12.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

My published predictor is available here. Top 10 of my published predictor are: Corey Conners, Ryan Moore, Aaron Rai, Joel Dahmen, Alex Noren, Lucas Glover, Keith Mitchell, Akshay Bhatia, Billy Horschel and Rory McIlroy.

Our brand new predictor model is running alongside, where you can build your own rankings in live time, using the variables listed on the left hand side.

Valero Texas Open Winners & Prices: 2023: Conners 20/1; 2022: Spaun 200/1; 2021: Spieth 16/1; 2019: Conners 200/1; 2018: Landry 200/1; 2017: Chappell 33/1; 2016: Hoffman 30/1; 2015: Jimmy Walker 25/1; 2014: Bowditch 350/1; 2013: Laird 100/1; 2012: Curtis 150/1; 2011: Steele 300/1; 2010: Scott 25/1. Past 5 Renewals Average: 127/1; Average: 127/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2023: Thursday: Cloudy. High of 79. Wind SE 12-22 mph. The first round was delayed due to fog for 3 hours 30 minutes. Play was suspended due to darkness at 7:23 p.m. with the entire afternoon wave yet to complete the round. Friday: Cloudy. High of 71. Wind S 10-20 mph. Second Round Mostly cloudy. High of 90. Wind SW 8-15 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy. High of 84. Wind E 8-15 mph. Sunday: Cloudy and breezy. High of 88. Wind S 12-22 mph.
  • 2022: Thursday: Sunny. High of 81. Variable wind 5-10 mph, with gusts to 15 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 83. Wind SE 12-16 mph, with gusts to 27 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny. High of 86. Wind NNE 8-13 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny. High of 87. Wind SSE 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph.
  • 2021: Thursday: Mostly sunny. High of 70. Wind ENE 10-20 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy. High of 71. Wind ESE 8-16 mph. Saturday: Cloudy. High of 71. Wind ESE 10-20 mph. Due to thunderstorms, the start to the third round was delayed 2 hours,
  • 30 minutes and began at 12:13 p.m. CT. Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High of 75. Wind ESE 8-15 mph.
  • 2019: Thursday: Mostly sunny. High of 85. Wind SW 10-15 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy. High of 82. Wind ESE 10-15 mph. Saturday: Overcast with intermittent showers throughout the day. High of 78. Wind SE 10-15 mph. Sunday: Due to inclement weather, the start to the final round was delayed from 9:40 a.m. until 11:40 a.m. Mostly cloudy in the afternoon. High of 72. Wind NNE 8-12 mph.
  • 2018: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 78. Wind E 15-25 mph, with gusts to 30 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 64. Wind SE 15-25 mph. Saturday: Cloudy, with scattered showers. High of 75. Wind SSE 8-16 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 78. Wind N 10-20 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 85. Wind SSE 10-20 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 86. Wind SSE 15-25 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy and cooler, with a high of 67. Wind NNE 15-25, with gusts to 30 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 74. Wind N 10-18 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Overcast, with heavy rains in the morning. Due to inclement weather, the first round was suspended from 8:25 a.m. until 12 p.m. CT. Sunny in the afternoon, with wind NE at 5-10 mph. Due to darkness, play was suspended for the day at 8:10 p.m. and resumed at 8 a.m. Friday. Friday: Sunny, with a high of 81. Wind NE at 8-12 mph. Due to darkness, the second round was suspended at 8:11 p.m. and resumed at 8 a.m. Saturday. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 81. Wind ESE at 8-12 mph. Sunday: Cloudy, with a high of 77. Wind SSE at 7-12 mph.
  • 2015: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 62. Wind SSW at 15-25 mph, with gusts to 38 mph. Friday: Sunny, with a high of 77. Wind WSW at 6-12 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 78. Wind SSW at 7-12 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 82. Wind S at 15-25 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for San Antonio, Texas is here.

Texas in April can be like 4 seasons in a single day and this year looks the standard mixed bag. Hot 26-27 degrees – 79-81 Fahrenheit across Thursday, Friday and Sunday, scoring conditions look good on Thursday and Sunday.

Saturday though looks more interesting. Down to 21 degrees Celsius – 70 Fahrenheit, south easterly gusts of 30 mph will give players all they want around this Oaks Course. Gusting 20mph winds from the same direction on Friday will also slow scoring compared to Thursday.

Expect ideal turf conditions which will see firm fairways with plenty of roll and the ubiquitous watered green complexes.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the WM Phoenix Open/Qatar Masters which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events, where recorded. Player rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Kevin Dougherty; 2) Alejandro Tosti; 3) Ludvig Aberg; 4) Cameron Champ / Rory McIlroy; 6) Corey Conners / Maverick McNealy / Keith Mitchell; 9) Kevin Yu; 10) Byeong Hun An / Rico Hoey; 12) Harris English; 13) Hideki Matsuyama; 14) Rafael Campos; 15) Matt Fitzpatrick / Collin Morikawa / Alex Noren / Jhonattan Vegas; 19) Billy Horschel / Adam Scott / Jordan Spieth / Hayden Springer; 23) Doug Ghim / Webb Simpson; 25) Akshay Bhatia / Beau Hossler.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Chandler Phillips; 2) Corey Conners; 3) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 4) Ben Martin / Ryan Moore; 6) Ludvig Aberg / Hideki Matsuyama; 8) Keith Mitchell; 9) Bud Cauley / Austin Eckroat; 11) Jhonattan Vegas; 12) Lucas Glover / Victor Perez; 14) Rico Hoey; 15) Aaron Rai; 16) Max Homa / Rory McIlroy; 18) Charley Hoffman; 19) Sam Ryder / Greyson Sigg / Davis Thompson; 22) Max Greyserman / Andrew Novak; 24) Joel Dahmen; 25) Tom Kim / Adam Scott.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Hideki Matsuyama; 2) Harris English; 3) Martin Laird; 4) Andrew Putnam / Roger Sloan; 6) Luke Donald; 7) Ludvig Aberg / Denny McCarthy / Taylor Montgomery; 10) Brian Harman; 11) Tommy Fleetwood / Maverick McNealy; 13) Aaron Baddeley; 14) S.H. Kim / Adam Schenk / Webb Simpson; 17) Ben Griffin; 18) Zac Blair; 19) Chez Reavie; 20) Harry Hall; 21) Lucas Glover / Carl Yuan; 23) Padraig Harrington / C.T. Pan / David Skinns / Brendon Todd.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Hideki Matsuyama; 2) Corey Conners; 3) Ludvig Aberg / Lucas Glover; 5) Keith Mitchell; 6) Harris English / Rory McIlroy; 8) Bud Cauley; 9) Austin Eckroat; 10) Chandler Phillips; 11) Maverick McNealy; 12) Jhonattan Vegas; 13) Max Greyserman; 14) Joel Dahmen / Aaron Rai; 16) Davis Thompson; 17) Alex Noren; 18) Rico Hoey; 19) Matt Fitzpatrick / Andrew Novak / David Skinns; 22) Ryan Moore / Seamus Power; 24) Doug Ghim / Collin Morikawa / Victor Perez.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Taylor Montgomery; 2) Raul Pereda; 3) Alexander Bjork / Russell Henley; 5) Tommy Fleetwood; 6) Jordan Spieth; 7) Harris English / Matt Fitzpatrick / Martin Laird; 10) Max Homa; 11) Aaron Baddeley / Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 13) Adam Scott; 14) Chad Ramey / Brendon Todd; 16) Norman Xiong; 17) Denny McCarthy; 18) Ludvig Aberg / Hideki Matsuyama; 20) Maverick McNealy; 21) Rory McIlroy / Alex Noren; 23) Rickie Fowler / Chris Gotterup / Ben Griffin / K.H. Lee.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Hideki Matsuyama; 2) Harris English; 3) Ludvig Aberg; 4) Rory McIlroy; 5) Maverick McNealy / Andrew Novak; 7) Corey Conners; 8) Billy Horschel; 9) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Max Greyserman; 11) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 12) Lucas Glover / Martin Laird / Adam Scott / Erik van Rooyen; 16) Andrew Novak / Jimmy Stanger; 18) Tommy Fleetwood; 19) Doug Ghim / Russell Henley; 21) Denny McCarthy / Keith Mitchell; 23) Aaron Rai; 24) Collin Morikawa / Adam Schenk / Ben Silverman.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at TPC San Antonio click here.

Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the Strokes Gained Stats of the Valero Texas Open winners since 2016 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2023, Corey Conners (-15). SG Off the Tee: 8th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 29th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 41st.
  • 2022, J.J. Spaun (-13). SG Off the Tee: 10th, SG Approach: 23rd, SG Around the Green: 13th, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 17th.
  • 2021, Jordan Spieth (-18). SG Off the Tee: 38th, SG Approach: 4th, SG Around the Green: 3rd, SG Tee to Green: 3rd, SG Putting: 6th.
  • 2019, Corey Conners (-20). SG Off the Tee: 4th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 58th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 26th.
  • 2018, Andrew Landry (-17). SG Off the Tee: 9th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 33rd, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 8th.
  • 2017, Kevin Chappell (-12). SG Off the Tee: 4th, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 32nd, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 21st.
  • 2016, Charley Hoffman (-12). SG Off the Tee: 8th, SG Approach: 16th, SG Around the Green: 49th, SG Tee to Green: 10th, SG Putting: 4th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 8th, SG Approach: 7th, SG Around the Green: 31st, SG Tee to Green: 3rd, SG Putting: 18th.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of Valero Texas Open winners since 2013 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this tough, desert golf test:

  • 2023, Corey Conners (-15). 301 yards (52nd), 62.5% fairways (3rd), 77.8% greens in regulation (1st), 37’1″ proximity to hole (23rd), 68.8 % scrambling (20th), 1.71 putts per GIR (33rd).
  • 2022, J.J. Spaun (-13). 305 yards (46th), 64.3% fairways (9th), 66.7% greens in regulation (16th), 38’3″ proximity to hole (30th), 58.3 % scrambling (57th), 1.54 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2021, Jordan Spieth (-18). 307 yards (23rd), 51.8% fairways (49th), 58.3% greens in regulation (57th), 35’10” proximity to hole (29th), 80.0 % scrambling (4th), 1.52 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2019, Corey Conners (-20). 302 yards (28th), 64.3% fairways (7th), 81.9% greens in regulation (1st), 28’8″ proximity to hole (2nd), 30.8 % scrambling (70th), 1.53 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2018, Andrew Landry (-17). 298 yards (46th), 58.9% fairways (29th), 73.6% greens in regulation (1st), 33’11” proximity to hole (7th), 78.9 % scrambling (2nd), 1.60 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2017, Kevin Chappell (-12). 297 yards (25th), 58.9% fairways (35th), 72.2% greens in regulation (3rd), 35’7″ proximity to hole (10th), 65.0 % scrambling (26th), 1.69 putts per GIR (14th).
  • 2016, Charley Hoffman (-12). 301 yards (4th), 64.3% fairways (34th), 68.1% greens in regulation (17th), 37’8″ proximity to hole (47th), 65.2 % scrambling (42nd), 1.59 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2015, Jimmy Walker (-11). 303 yards (4th), 53.6% fairways (45th), 70.8% greens in regulation (1st), proximity to hole 38’10” (16th), 61.9 % scrambling (27th), 1.65 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2014, Steven Bowditch (-8). 297 yards (15th), 51.8% fairways (49th), 61.1% greens in regulation (15th), proximity to hole 39’7″ (51st), 71.4 % scrambling (11th), 1.64 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2013, Martin Laird (-14). 298 yards (20th), 66.1% fairways (8th), 69.4% greens in regulation (7th), proximity to hole 36’1″ (37th), 63.6% scrambling (37th), 1.71 putts per GIR (33rd).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 26th, Driving Accuracy: 27th, Greens in Regulation: 12th, Proximity to Hole: 25th, Scrambling: 30th, Putting Average 9th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Corey Conners (2023): “Particularly in the first round my short game was great, hit a number of really nice pitches and was able to roll in some putts. Second round I felt like I hit it pretty well. Maybe a few more missed tee balls and iron shots in the second round, but the wind was pretty tricky starting out this morning. A lot of good things, felt like I missed it in the right spots. Tried to avoid the areas outs here that are very challenging and can give you trouble, so was able to do that. Yeah, control my misses and overall everything was great.

Yeah, I think it’s really demanding from tee to green. Some really challenging approach shots and it’s tricky around the greens. Especially after winning, I have a really high comfort level with this place and feel like I see the shots well and certainly know where you can miss it in certain situations. That seemed to be helpful.

Yeah, that’s important to take care of the par 5s, especially out here. It’s a demanding golf course, the par 5s are no gimmees, you’ve got to hit really solid shots, but left myself in good spots. Not really been able to go for the green on 8 and been on the green Round 2 and just in front Round 1. Put myself in good shape on No. 2 into the wind today, just in front of the green. Then 18 I don’t remember really ever going for it and had a hybrid and 4-iron in, was able to convert the birdie.

I like it visually off the tee and it’s very demanding with your irons into the greens. There’s some unique shaped greens, some skinny greens, big greens. You’ve really got to be in control of your ball and that’s something that I’ve always liked about this place. Yeah, obviously lots of good vibes from playing well the past few years.”

J.J. Spaun (2022): “I think the heat makes the course a lot different. The ball goes further, some of these par 5s play a lot shorter and obviously the firmness, so it’s definitely different than the last five years I’ve been out here.

Yeah, the wind picked up like kind of right when we made the turn. It was kind of blowing all day, but then it picked up heavier around the first and second hole, which is our back nine. Yeah, just made it tougher to hit fairways and guessing, most of it was like crosswinds, too, so you know, if you started too far in one direction, you can short-side yourself. It definitely picked up our last seven, eight holes.

I just pulled my drive into the trees. Had a shot and I had this huge rock right in front of my ball and I don’t know if that made the ball draw or not, but it drew left of the hole, which is the last place you want to be. And then I tried to bump it into the hill and that went over the green on the other side. Then I kind of left like a pretty straightforward chip like 15 feet short and just like an easy double. Yeah, it was just one of those holes where it could have been a lot better, but ended up being a lot worse.”

Jordan Spieth (2021): “In the fairway on 8, if you told my I could play in even par, I would have taken it, so no reason to get too upset on 9. I did for sure steal one. I had 208 to that back right pin. I was trying to just kind of cut it into the breeze and have it come down short of the ridge. The wind kind of stopped, so it got all the way back there and took advantage. I won’t make many birdies from that far out on that hole very often.

So I really like the way I played 18 today. Driver, 3-wood onto that green, and to hold that green is really, really challenging. I can use those couple swings for some confidence into tomorrow.”

Corey Conners (2019): “Yeah, it was great. I hit the ball really well. Never really got myself out of position except for No. 10, where I drove it a little right. Other than that, it was really solid ball-striking. I was able to make some putts. Basically took care of the holes that you need to take care of, the par 5s, and No. 5, a short par 4, I was able to make birdie. Other than that, just kept it pretty simple. There’s a few pins that are close to some slopes, so played a little safer on some shots, but struck it really well. So just tried to keep it simple and scored well.”

Andrew Landry (2018): “This is a good golf course for me, it sets up well for my driving. You’ve got to be pretty accurate out here. Like you said, the rough, I don’t know what happened but the overseed might have not came in as good as I guess they wanted and you can get some pretty sketchy you lies around those greens. Not sketchy as in it’s in bad shape, but sketchy as in the ball sits down and you’re having to hit some higher shots on some tight lies. But I luckily avoided all those today and I think I had maybe one and I made a par with it.

This place, all around the greens it’s really tough right now, tee shots as well. The wind’s kind of swirling all over the place. The greens, they’ve been really receptive this week. And I went to a new set of irons this week, new shafts, and it’s just made a total difference with being able to get spin on the ball and the height of it that’s coming in, I’ve been able to stop a lot more long irons now. It’s just been nice. It’s been a good treat that I’m finally getting some good golf shots out of it and here we are.”

Kevin Chappell (2017): “Missing it in the right spots is the key. It was windy enough you had to really think about what shots you can take on and, if you did, getting the ball in the right place. I was fortunate to be chipping back into the wind a lot and that made it a lot easier. The ball – it’s warm and windy is the recipe to hit the ball really far. So, we hit a few shots went 10, 15 yards further than we thought they would. Into the kind the ball is going nowhere because it’s blowing so hard. It’s a good mixture on this golf course, lot of holes run north/south. With the wind blowing out of south today, you know, you had a good mixture of both. For me I played enough rounds around here that I probably played every wind they have. So, you know, I look forward to the challenge. My game tends to rise in more difficult conditions so I look forward to that on the weekend.

Charley Hoffman (2016): “Tee to green is very visual, shapes with the trees and it’s a tough driving golf course. I usually drive it pretty good and got to be accurate when you’re hitting in there. For some reason I’ve been able to roll the putter. Conditions are a lot different than normal. Usually you’re trying to land them short, today you’re trying to get them past the hole and suck them back. No rough, no overseeding. Premium on driving isn’t quite as much. You can hit them in the rough and have a shot at the green. There’s low scores out there, still going to make some putts in the right spots.

Jimmy Walker (2015): “I still think the greens are going to stay relatively firm. Even talking to some guys yesterday that played that even after the rain, they were still getting some nice bounces and release after the rain. The fairways were obviously kind of not running as well. The rough isn’t like it was last year. Last year it was overseeded. This year they didn’t and the Bermuda has come back but hasn’t all grown yet. Driving the ball in the rough isn’t going to be, I don’t think, a big deal this week, just because it’s not very long. You can get some pretty nice lies in the rough. So that’s just a South Texas thing right now this time of year. The transition and everything is coming back.

They keep making minor improvements to the golf course. It’s really resonating with the guys. A lot of guys like to show up and play a tough golf course. It’s kind of the deal if you get bad weather you feel like half the field is out. They’re in a bad mood. There’s guys that enjoy coming and playing tough tracks where you don’t have to shoot 18, 25-under. We shot 9-under last year and won, something like that. It’s a tough track. The opening stretch here is pretty good. 1 through 4 you got to kind of have all your stuff together. You do have a par 5 in there but it’s really not too reachable by 90-some-odd percent of the field. It’s a good par 5. And then 3 is a tough par 3 and 4 is a great, tough, 485-yard hole with a tiny green. You got to be precise. It’s got some tough tee shots, got some tough second shots and the greens can be a little tricky to read. They’ve got some South Texas grain in them. It can play with you a little bit.

Jordan Spieth: “Well, for one, the trouble isn’t the hazard. You’re going in to try to find your ball or you’re walking up thinking you’re going to find it in a good spot. And then when it’s not in a good spot, well, now I don’t want to find it. You want to play it as a lost ball. You get guys that are coming up and walking all the way back. That takes a lot of time. If it’s a hazard and you didn’t find it, you know it went in, take a drop there, that saves five to ten minutes on that hole. So because it’s so challenging on both sides of the fairway, you get any shots astray, which will happen tomorrow in the wind, it’s going to slow down the round significantly, especially if you’re trying to grind. Any tough course is going to play slow towards the lead groups because for whatever reason you’re normally grinding it out a little bit more. I don’t think it should change, no matter what position you’re in, but I do it for whatever reason, and it just happens. So, yeah, I just think because of the trouble off the tee that this course maybe could yield slower play than other places.

Incoming Form of Valero Texas Open winners since 2010:

  • Corey Conners: 17th WMP/MC Players/21st Bay Hill/ 61st Riviera.
  • J.J. Spaun: 27th Valspar/MC Players/57th Bay Hill/30th PGA National.
  • Jordan Spieth: 9th WMP/48th Players/4th Bay Hill/15th Riviera.
  • Corey Conners: MC Corales/41st Players/MC Bay Hill /MC Puerto Rico.
  • Andrew Landry: 42nd Harbour/MC PGA National/MC Riviera/MC TPC Scottsdale.
  • Kevin Chappell: 7th Augusta/44th Houston/39th WMP/49th Bay Hill.
  • Charley Hoffman: 14th Harbour/29th Augusta/33rd Houston/11th Copperhead
  • Jimmy Walker: 31st Doral /41st Riviera/21st Pebble/7th Torrey.
  • Steven Bowditch: MC Copperhead/37th Puerto Rico/MC PGA National/MC Riviera.
  • Martin Laird: MC Houston/34th Bay Hill/70th Copperhead/MC PGA National.
  • Ben Curtis: MC Houston/14th Puerto Rico/13th Dubai/47th Qatar.
  • Brendan Steele: 51st Houston/38th Bay Hill /MC Copperhead/MC Puerto Rico.
  • Adam Scott: 26th TPC Sawgrass/MC Quail Hollow/18th Augusta/14th Houston.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2023 – Conners – PM -8/64 – 45/1.
  • 2022 – Knox – AM -7/65 – 66/1.
  • 2021 – Villegas – PM -8/64 – 150/1.
  • 2019 – Si Woo Kim – AM -6/66 – 66/1.
  • 2018 – Murray – AM -5/67 – 100/1.
  • 2017 – Grace – AM -6/66 – 33/1.
  • 2016 – Steele – PM -8/64.
  • 2015 – Hoffman – PM -5/67
  • 2014 – Loupe – PM -5/67.
  • 2013 – Bettencourt / Tomasulo – Both PM -5/67.
  • 2012 – Every – AM -9/63.
  • 2011 – Cink / Henry – AM/PM Split -5/67.
  • 2010 – Jones – AM -6/66.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of Bermudagrass PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 8 – Rory McIlroy.
  • 5 – Jordan Spieth.
  • 4 – Billy Horschel, Zach Johnson, Ryan Palmer, Camilo Villegas.
  • 3 – Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker.
  • 2 – Luke Donald, Harris English, Rickie Fowler, Lucas Glover, Russell Henley, Grayson Murray, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Jimmy Walker.
  • 1 – Ludvig Aberg, Aaron Baddeley, Cameron Champ, Stewart Cink, Corey Conners, Tyler Duncan, Austin Eckroat, Matt Fitzpatrick, Lanto Griffin, Nick Hardy, Padraig Harrington, Garrick Higgo, J.B. Holmes, Max Homa, Tom Kim, Martin Laird, Andrew Landry, Hideki Matsuyama, Keith Mitchell, Collin Morikawa, C.T. Pan, Seamus Power, Davis Riley, J.J. Spaun, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Adam Svensson, Brendon Todd, Jhonattan Vegas, Gary Woodland.

We face an interesting conundrum this week with regards the difficult Oaks Course itself in an event that can be very fanciful from a betting perspective. Let’s firstly start with my views on the course. It was once a real beast of a course with tough scoring conditions, but recent renewals have been won at -15/273, -13/275, -18/270, -20/268 and -17/271. The Texas wind – and its direction – can really dictate scoring, and it’s abundantly clear that when holes 1, 4 and 10 were made less challenging with green re-sculpting and fairway widening work prior to 2013’s renewal, difficulty was significantly eased. Even so, greens are contoured so putting is difficult and the fairways are some of the most testing the Tour pros will face this season – long and tight and surrounded by masses of trouble. Greens are hard to hit in volume and the putting surfaces themselves repel approach shots from pin positions very ably.

Pre-Major tournaments always have a slightly strange feel to them, but the week prior to The Masters in recent times has been pretty difficult to read. 2020 saw the Houston Open precede The Masters, both played in November, and despite OWGR No 1 Dustin Johnson being right in the mix for victory, non-Augusta National qualifier Carlos Ortiz snared his maiden PGA Tour title.

Critiquing the April Masters ‘curtain raisers’, we know that the vast majority of the respective fields are ignoring Augusta on the basis that they are not qualified. J.J. Spaun (2022) and Corey Conners’ first win (2019) here at TPC San Antonio fall into this category, plus Ian Poulter (2018), Russell Henley (2017) and Jim Herman (2016) across the previous 3 years played at the GC of Houston. And 2014 also saw Matt Jones win in this pre-Masters week with no Augusta qualification weighing on his mind. Extrapolate that to TPC San Antonio in 2013, where Martin Laird again grabbed a last minute invite to the first Major of the year, and there’s a line of enquiry that suggests we look for non-Augusta qualifiers. After all 8 of the past 11 winners of the Masters warm-up event weren’t already in the field for the following week’s main event.

But we have 3 exceptions. The first was J.B. Holmes in 2015. He was ranked 20th in the OWGR and came into Houston off of 2 runner-up finishes in his previous 2015 outings. Whether he thought he had a serious chance of putting on a Green Jacket at Augusta is open to debate, and instead he took the opportunity of lifting his 4th PGA Tour title, when he was undoubtedly playing some of the very best golf of his career.

The second exemption is Jordan Spieth who we were on-board in 2021 at 16/1. Winless in over 3 and a half years, Spieth, who ranked at 53rd in the OWGR, has always been one that likes to hit Majors with a top performance the outing before. 4th at the TPC Scottsdale, 3rd at Pebble Beach and 4th at Bay Hill in the build-up, Spieth with a more compliant driver was undoubtedly trending and he took advantage of a weak field to take his 12th PGA Tour and 2nd win in his home state of Texas.

The third exemption is defending champion Corey Conners. Conners and the Oaks Course go together like Phil Mickelson and Augusta National, so it was hardly the biggest shock in golf betting when he took this out last year at 20/1. Inbound form was solid and far from spectacular with 12th at the Sony Open his best strokeplay finish in the season to that point.

My final Valero Texas Open tips are as follows:

Ludvig Aberg 3Pts EW 14/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

At the top of the market, one player who I think will have more focus on this week’s Valero Texas Open than next week’s Masters is Ludvig Aberg.

At 24 years of age, Ludvig has the world of golf at his feet, but in my mind his youth and lack of experience, especially when it comes to Major Championship preparation, makes him a must-back this week. The fact he’s never played in a Major and that he’s always focussed on winning when he tees it up at any tournament is a great combination, especially this week when the world’s golf media will be focussed on the Masters curtain-raiser. Aberg winning his 2nd PGA Tour title the week before the Masters makes plenty of sense to me, whilst the likes of McIlroy, Spieth, Matsuyama, Morikawa, Fitzpatrick and Harman will be fine-tuning or attempting to find something for the first Major of 2024, Ludvig for me is dangerous as he’s playing amazing golf and will undoubtedly have motivation to win in San Antonio.

9th at Torrey Pines, 2nd at Pebble Beach and 8th on debut (no mean feat) at TPC Sawgrass last time out, Aberg is playing great golf and for me he arrives in the Lone Star State with something to prove. A member of the Red Raiders golf team at Texas Tech in nearby Lubbock, 2019 saw Ludvig win the Sun Bowl Marathon All-America Golf Classic in El Paso, Texas in his freshman year. 2022 then saw him win Individual honours at the Big 12 Conference played that year in Trinity, Texas. Great memories and producing a contending performance on his professional debut in the Lone Star State must be a target for the Swede.

The other bonus is that he also has course experience as in 2022 Ludvig played the Valero Texas Open here on the Oaks Course as an amateur where he missed the cut.

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Billy Horschel 2pts EW 35/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfred

It’s last chance saloon for Billy Horschel if he wants to play in The Masters next week. Having played there every year since 2018, every route into playing at Augusta National is now closed for Billy – except for a win this week at the Valero Texas Open. And we’ve seen in the past with “Billy-Ho” that he tends to play his very best when both in-form and with definitive result targets to hit. The 2014 FedEx Cup was won with 2nd at Boston, 1st at Cherry Hills and 1st at East Lake and he also had another run to the Tour Championship in 2018 powered by 3rd at Ridgewood and 3rd at Aronimink. When he’s had to find it in the past, he often has come up trumps.

Undoubtedly Billy has also found his game since we’ve moved away from the west coast. 9th at PGA National. 12th at Copperhead and a fast-finishing 7th at Memorial Park last week, the World Number 80 sits 9th across my 8-week Strokes Gained Current Form tracker and was 7th for Tee to Green at the Houston Open on a course which for me was extremely bomber-friendly, which isn’t so much the case this week.

4 of Billy’s 7 PGA Tour titles have been won on Bermudagrass greens, with 2 of them coming on Bermuda/Poa Trivialis overseed at TPC Louisiana (2018) and Austin Country Club (2021) respectively. Form here on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio is also excellent. 3rd (2013), 3rd (2015), 4th (2016) and 11th (2018), give encouragement that the Florida Gator can give it a run in San Antonio to get that coveted last Masters invite.

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Davis Riley 1pt EW 90/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Davis Riley has been victorious here on the Oaks Course, winning the 2020 TPC San Antonio Championship at The Oaks on the Korn Ferry Tour with a -16/272 total. Now into his 4th season on the PGA Tour, Riley has shown real talent across relevant tournaments in the southern United States since his promotion to the main Tour and that makes sense logically from a geographical perspective for a player who grew-up in Mississippi, studied at Alabama and now lives back in Mississippi.

8th at Bay Hill (2023), 2nd at Copperhead (2022), 9th at TPC Craig Ranch (2022), 13th at Southern Hills (2022), 4th at Colonial (2022), plus 4th (2022) and 1st (2023) at TPC Louisiana, Riley undoubtedly plays his best golf on Bermudagrass golf courses. He’s also positive on Bermudagrass/Poa Trivialis greens as 2nd at the Valspar and wins both here and at TPC Louisiana highlight perfectly.

That win 11 months ago with Nick Hardy certainly didn’t propel Riley forward and a fall to 243rd in the Official World Golf Rankings before last week means that Major Championship golf in 2024 is a pipe dream. But 14th last week in Houston was Davis’ best solo result on the PGA Tour since the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational and featured Strokes Gained numbers of 21st for Off the Tee, 6th for Approach and 5th for Tee to Green.

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Ryan Moore 1pt EW 110/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfred

I’m looking for nuggety sorts this week at TPC San Antonio, so those who can navigate away from big trouble off the tee and plot their way around the course. Ryan Moore fits the bill pretty perfectly in my opinion.

We all know about the current travails of Justin Thomas. Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth who have all fought back over recent seasons from slumps in their results, and although not in the same superstar category Ryan Moore has undoubtedly had a sustained fallow period in his career. A 5-time winner on the PGA Tour plus a member of the 2016 winning Team USA Ryder Cup team, yet another Missed Cut at last year’s The American Express saw Ryan slump to an all-time low 439th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

But a rally last autumn saw Moore finish 13th at TPC Summerlin, 5th in Bermuda and 8th at Sea Island. The west coast swing this year proved barren again, but a move east has seen the 41 year-old Washington man’s fortunes improve again, with 45th at TPC Sawgrass, 5th at Copperhead, and 31st last week in Houston. Memorial Park is all about huge hitting, whereas at the Oaks Course straight driving gains Strokes Off the Tee.

That much can be seen from Ryan’s record here on the Oaks Course which is excellent. 8th (2012), 18th (2017), 7th (2018) and 3rd in (2019), Moore is playing some good stuff at the moment, so I’m expecting positive things from him this week on a course where he can be very competitive.

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 12:45BST 1.4.24 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.