Golf Betting: Worth Every cent at Valero
The pick I like most, and by some distance, is Matt Every
Steve Rawlings is expecting windy tough conditions as he looks at this week's US PGA Tour event.
One of the oldest events on the PGA Tour, the Valero Texas Open has been in existence since 1922. Always staged in the San Antonio area, at various different venues, it's been something of a birdie-fest but now the event's been switched to the TPC San Antonio it's a far sterner test.
TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks Course), San Antonio, Texas
Par 72 -7,435 yards. Stroke Index in 2011 - 73.67
Designed by Greg Norman, with the assistance of Sergio Garcia, TPC San Antonio only opened in January 2010. Hardly surprisingly, given the designer, there's a similarity to the sand belt courses near Melbourne and it perhaps wasn't too much of a shock that fellow Aussie, Adam Scott, won the inaugural staging here. Ranked as the most difficult of the 22 par 72 tracks used during the 2011 PGA Tour schedule, TPC San Antonio is yet another track laid to Bermuda grass.
Last Five Year's Winner
2011 - Brendan Steele -8
2010 - Adam Scott -14
2009 - Zach Johnson -15 (playoff)
2008 - Zach Johnson -19
2007 - Justin Leonard -19 (playoff)
Possible In-Play Trading Angle
After a lot of rain leading up to the 2010 event, the course played soft and the scoring wasn't too tough. Last year conditions weren't so forgiving and with the usual Texan winds blustering their way across the track, it was a really stern test. We can expect much the same this time around and it's worth noting that the first four home last year were all within two of the lead after round one and they were all tied for the lead at halfway. Last year's result isn't much of a sample size I know but it might just be worth concentrating on the leaders from quite early on.
Clear favourite Matt Kuchar is readily dismissed. He's clearly top-class but as he showed again at the recent US Masters, winning is something that doesn't come easily at all. Kevin Na is the somewhat surprising second favourite, considering this is the venue at which he managed to record 16 on one hole last year!
Third best, Freddie Jacobson has the best course form but he shot 81 in the final round last week, which is slightly worrying. Texan resident KJ Choi hasn't looked himself this year, whilst J.B Holmes is on his way back following brain surgery and looks plenty short enough.
Of those towards the front of the market, Texan Johnson Wagner makes the most appeal by far, but given I backed him at 120.0 last year I've found it impossible to take less than 30.0. And I quite like Charley Hoffman, but again, at just 30.0, I'm happy to let him go un-backed before the off too.
If I'm honest, I've struggled a bit here. As discussed, I liked Wagner and Hoffman and I was also keen on Ryan Palmer, but not at the prices. Scott Piercy, Greg Chalmers and Marc Leishman were also closely considered but in the end I've plumped for just three outsiders from the off.
The pick I like most, and by some distance, is Matt Every. Excuse the pun, but every which way I looked his name kept cropping up. I looked at the profile of last year's winner, the currently woefully out of form Brenda Steele, and noticed that he won the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island in 2010 - an event Every won a year earlier.
I'd wanted to find a good value in-form Aussie but failed and then when examining Every's career record I noticed he was 2nd in the 2008 Mexico Open on the Nationwide Tour - an event dominated by Aussies and won by Jarrod Lyle, who if you weren't aware, has sadly been re-diagnosed with leukaemia. A tenuous link maybe but I thought it demonstrated that he might just be the man for this sort of blustery test. As did his 3rd at this year's Mayakoba Golf Classic.
Every was the third round leader at the Sony Hawaiian Open this year too, which also demonstrates his ability to handle windy conditions, as well as his liking for Bermuda. I've been keeping an eye on him all year and last week's closing round 67 at the RBC Heritage, which gave him his third top-ten of the year, really caught the eye. I don't think he should be any bigger than around 60.0.
I've talked myself into backing Brian Gay again, who played better than last week's missed cut suggests. The Florida-based Texan has all the right attributes for the track and if he should find a bit of improvement in form he could well be a factor.
And last up, after a great week last week, is Matt Bettencourt. Regular readers will know I seem to back Bettencourt almost every other week and it was typical that he contended last week when I hadn't!