It does not get any easier on the PGA Tour. Last week’s RBC Heritage at Harbour Town was a real slog around a tricky course with some very difficult weather conditions and we look set for more of the same come Thursday. The Valero Texas Open has a reputation as one of the Tour’s tougher events to win and that was certainly the case last season.
Local resident Jimmy Walker won the event by simply outstaying his opponents. TPC San Antonio is a tough enough all-round test of golf on a gloriously still summer’s day but with winds hitting 40mph at times, scoring at the 2015 Valero Texas Open was only possible with the very best golf. Luckily the weather looks a little easier for the upcoming week’s play but it will still be a factor in an event where -10 is likely to be enough to win.
One of the most difficult challenges posed by the 7,435 yard par 72 layout is hitting greens in regulation. At no course on the PGA Tour were the GIR stats as low as at TPC San Antonio last year. It is imperative to putt well once finding the putting surfaces while a solid short game should see players pick up shots to the field.
Walker’s stats were impressive across the board last season but it was with the flat stick where he really excelled. The Texas native lead the field for strokes gained putting and, crucially, took advantage of the par fives which offer some of the best birdie opportunities on the course. Walker’s win was his second of the 2014-15 wraparound season but he has yet to pick up a winner’s cheque this year. He has only missed one cut though and placed inside the top 10 three times. It took Walker a long time to really break through on the PGA Tour but since a stellar 2014 he has remained one of golf’s most consistent players and is a fair favourite at 16/1 with Bet365.
Charley Hoffman has been having some real Sunday problems. The 39 year old regularly saves his worst stuff for the final round and it is becoming a real problem for a player who is otherwise incredibly reliable. Hoffman has always been a factor when visiting TPC San Antonio and it could just take a course where he has good memories to snap him out of his Sunday funk. He’ll hit the ball as far as most and should be able to hit a comparatively high number of greens in regulation so will look good value at 28/1 with Coral if he gets over his Sunday nerves.
Ryan Palmer has been his usual solid self this season without being able to really challenge at the top of any leaderboards. He’s only missed the single cut in 2016 but really needs to kick on now to give himself a chance of booking a spot in the final events of the end of season playoffs. The Texas native is a big hitter who enjoys the course and is worth and each way at at 60/1 with Betfred.