The Valero Texas Open is one of the oldest tournaments on the PGA. Since 1922, some variation of “Texas Open” has been played every year (with the exception of 1943 and five other years).
Since 2010, the tournament has been played in San Antonio at TPC San Antonio. The course was designed by Greg Norman and offers a good mix of both narrow and wide-open fairways. It was designed with the winds in mind, as uphill holes play downwind and downhill holes play upwind.
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Keep in mind, the wind will be a major factor here. The greens are also dynamic, allowing for multiple strategic approaches. The course is wrapped around the J.W. Marriott resort, offering a convenient and relaxing tournament experience for the players. There are numerous restaurants on-site, as well as a water park.
The field this year appears to be a little more star-heavy than in years prior. With the Masters just a week away, a few of the big names are focusing on Augusta. However, many of the top guys (and the guys on the fringe for qualifying for Augusta) are using the Valero as a tune-up for Augusta.
Valero Texas Open this week! pic.twitter.com/kt0zZGKptG
— Spieth Tracker (@Spieth_Tracker) March 30, 2021
In prior years, this tournament is typically won by relatively pedestrian golfers. It’s the guys with low trajectory ball striking and guys who hang around the fringe of the top 100 players. Not since 2010 has a notable professional (Adam Scott) won this tournament. 2019’s champion, Corey Conners, has his only PGA Tour victory at this course (though he’s currently ranked 28th in the FedEx Cup).
Last week, we put out five picks total. The strategy was high-risk because that was our only option. Because of the match play format, we were limited to “winner” bets only. We almost cashed big. Three of our five entries made the round of 16.
Unfortunately, Spieth had to face Kuchar in the round of 16, so two of our picks faced off. Frittelli fell in the round of 16 as well. In the end, Kuchar (+5000) barely lost in the semifinals and ended up taking third place. It would’ve been a nice 50 to 1 payoff, but that’s how it goes when you’re taking longshots.
One hit can change the course of your betting season, but it’s hard to get there. On the season, we are now -7.15 units. This week, the plan is to get back on track, following two losing weeks.
This week, we are going back to our winning strategy of low-risk picks. Now that it’s an option again, we should be able to get back to our winning ways. As per the usual formula, we are going with the guys who fit two of the following three criteria:
- Good form of late
- Past success at this course
- Tendencies favorable to this course
Top 20 Finishes – Three players to finish in the top 20
Corey Conners +100
Corey Conners is technically the defending champion of this tournament. He shot -20 in that tournament and is particularly good in dealing with wind. This season, Conners is 13th in GIRP, 11th in Driving Accuracy Percentage, and 17th in scoring average.
Conners isn’t just a recommendation based on past results at this course. He’s playing some incredible golf at the moment. Conners has finished 17th or better in seven of his last eleven tournaments. I like Conners to turn-in another solid performance this week in a course he destroyed the last time out.
Chris Kirk +200
Kirk has finished in the top ten twice in this tournament over the years. He’s finished top 25 in three of the last four tournaments, and he’s 22nd in scoring average this season. Though he’s not impressive with the advanced stats, Kirk knows this course well, and he’s got the 11th best odds in this tournament.
Kirk has pretty good odds despite being just the 42nd ranked player in the FedEx Cup. This kind of quizzical oddsmaking should tell you Kirk may be in for a surprisingly good tournament.
Brendan Steele +200
Steele has a Valero title from the 2011 tournament. He’s made eight of nine cuts over the course of his career here. Though his last great finish here was in 2015 (8th), he’s still a favorable choice this week.
Steele is in good form lately, finishing third at the Honda Classic and 18th at API. With two high finishes in his last three tournaments, the stars may be aligning for Steele this week in San Antonio.
One in Ten – Our pick to finish Top 10
Matt Wallace +1000
Matt Wallace is purely a style play and our Hail Mary pick of the week. Traditionally, Wallace is a strong player in bad wind conditions. Though he has no history here at TPC San Antonio, Wallace is coming off a 28th place finish last week in Austin at the Dell Match Play event.
With even more drastic wind conditions forecasted in San Antonio, we are hoping the 30 year-old Englishman can use his talent in the wind and cash-in this week.
One in Five – Our pick to finish Top 5
Abraham Ancer +400
Abraham Ancer is 38th in the FedEx Cup standings this season, but he has the fourth-best odds this week. He has two top-five finishes in 13 events this season as well. The reason we like Ancer this week is primarily his advanced numbers.
Ancer is 2nd in Driving Accuracy Percentage, 14th in GIRP, and 19th in birdie average. I like the inflated odds this week for Ancer, especially given he’s finished 22nd or better in four of the last five tournaments.