GOLF GURU Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) delivered the goods last week with two massive-priced places. Here’s his take on the action from Texas this week.
Valero Texas Open | Thursday-Sunday | Sky Sports
Hilton Head and the RBC Heritage had a really nice result for us last week – a second-place for Russell Knox at 60/1 was backed up by a really strong finish for Bryson DeChambeau on his first pro start for a 70/1 place in fourth.
There were a few performances to note for the future, especially Branden Grace. The South African registered a first win on the PGA Tour and that could prompt a few more yet – look out for him in US Open markets.
Grace came oh so close in 2015 at odds of 110/1. Although you won’t get anything like that this time around, last week’s win makes him a live contender on tight courses. More of that later.
TPC San Antonio hosts the Valero Texas Open and more specifically the 7,435 yard AT&T Four Oaks Course which plays as a tough par-72.
There are a lot of similarities with what we saw in South Carolina last week. This is a tough tree-lined track and, although it plays a lot longer than Hilton Head, has similar demands.
It’s almost that classic second shot course that demands immaculate ball striking (Hello again Luke Donald) but we really are looking for both length and accuracy off the tee. Greens are once again small and multi layered.
I wrote last year, this might be the point you stop reading as I tell you that prior to Jimmy Walker strolling in by four shots at 25/1, the last four winners started at 350/1, 100/1, 150/1, 300/1.
I was thinking about that again on Tuesday evening and I believe that is partly due to this events position on the calendar. There has been some movement but usually, the Texas Open has been a pre-Masters warm up and an event that a lot of the big guys have used as a training exercise.
This is by no means a stellar field, but there is some quality in there. No mucking about, this is a very tough one to call as this place is normally windy with lightning fast greens.
This year, barely any wind is forecast and San Antonio has taken a real soaking in the past few weeks. It kind of transforms the course in many ways and although not quite useless, course form here is almost a write off.
I hope I have set the tournament up enough for you all to make your own choices. I normally give you solid fact based picks but this week has to be gut feel.
Long off the tee, hitting plenty of greens in regulation and a hot putter have to be three must haves this week. I went with a man in form last week and current form is always something to play close attention to and I will go with that old chestnut again.
Branden Grace (18/1 Bet365) delivered a win for us at 7/1 back in January and he really played beautifully last time so I see no reason why he could not top the leaderboard for a third time in 2016.
He’s won back-to-back before, is full of confidence and could not have driven the ball any better at Hilton Head. His iron play is up there with anything this season and he’s made a ton of putts from 8-10 feet.
Branden’s probably the best golfer in the field and bang in form – with 18/1 still available, that’s a decent bet to me.
Charley Hoffman (30/1 888) is a favourite of mine. Bagging us a 66/1 winner just three weeks ago, The Hoff has some serious course form, which despite the changed conditions, just cannot be ignored.
From 10 starts, nine top-13 finishes is astonishing. I have to play Hoffman here each-way and one of the fastest starters in the game cannot be ignored in the First Round Leader markets with 40/1 (Coral) available to back each-way.
Jason Kokrak (45/1 Coral) is very similar to Hoffman, although he hits it miles. He has been in contention so many times on a Sunday without quite getting it done but it’s coming.
Kokrak has a really nice short game and form on classical courses like Pebble Beach and Bay Hill as well as 15th, 31st and 11th-placed finishes on his last three starts here and should be backed each-way.
Valero Texas Open – Branden Grace to win (18/1 Bet365)
Valero Texas Open – Charley Hoffman to win (30/1 each-way 888)
Valero Texas Open – Jason Kokrak to win (45/1 each-way Coral)
Valero Texas Open – Charley Hoffman first round leader (40/1 each-way Coral)
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