Sports Betting Weekly

Valero Texas Open

When: Thursday, 26 March 2015 (FINISHED)
Where: TPC San Antonio Texas
With only a couple of weeks to go until the first major of the year, the US Masters, tees off in Augusta, many golf pros from the US and beyond will be looking to find their form and get their aim in at the Valero Texas Open, which returns to TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course for a sixth year.

Though the event itself dates back as far as 1922, there have only been five renewals of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio and each has been wildly unpredictable, with the strong winds that are synonymous with the Lone Star State wrecking havoc on golfers’ scores on this tricky par-72.

Indeed, back in 2011, TPC San Antonio ranked as the most difficult of the 22 par-72 tracks used on that year’s USPGA Tour schedule and the 2012 and 2014 renewals were particularly arduous affairs, with both Ben Curtis and Steven Bowditch somewhat limping over the line with final scores of -8.

There was a slight upturn in scoring in 2013 when a couple of subtle adjustments allowed Martin Laird to whizz round in just 63 strokes on the final day to finish 14 under par, but with that year proving the exception rather than the rule, generally speaking this is a course that favours the more seasoned professionals who know how to hang in there and grind it out when the going gets tough.

One of the unique features of the venue is that all of the downhill holes play into the prevailing wind, while all the uphill ones play downwind. With this in mind, you’d think driving distance would be a major factor in determining a winner, but the stats don’t really bear this out – in fact, accuracy off the tee and par three performance seem to be the common factors among previous winners.

Beyond this, however, it’s fair to say the Valero Texas Open is a generally unpredictable event and there are few discernible patterns among the previous five winners. Certainly, form doesn’t seem to be as big a factor going into the tournament as it is at other venues, with Adam Scott the only highly-fancied winner since it moved to TPC San Antonio. If ever there was an event to look beyond the favourites and take a few long-odds punts, therefore, this is it – but as we say, make sure your outsiders know how to deal with the high winds and keep their cool in potentially tricky conditions.


While four of the previous five winners at the Valero Texas Open have all teed off at triple-figure prices, it would nevertheless be remiss of us not to at least consider the current crop of players heading the betting market – and it is the in-form duo of Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson that currently occupy first and second in the outright market at prices of 17/2 and 10/1 respectively.

Spieth has played at TPC San Antonio three times previously, with his best result coming in the shape of a 10th place finish while hopelessly out of form at last year’s event. The American is of course a streaky player – as demonstrated by his back-to-back wins at the end of last year – and having won the Valspar Championship last time out, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him repeat the feat here.

That being said, at that short a price you’d ideally want someone with a better record than 10th, 41st and not making the cut in recent renewals to justify your investment, so there’s certainly a case for avoiding Spieth here. Likewise, Johnson arrives at the Valero Texas Open on the back of a win, a second and a fourth-place finish this year already and is also unquestionably a brilliant wind player, but the one major drawback for him is that he has never played the course at TPC San Antonio.

As such it may be asking a bit too much to expect Johnson to instantly take to the Valero Texas Open like a duck to water and, just like Spieth, he looks a little short to warrant much excitement here. Behind Johnson, you can get double the odds on Jim Furyk – who is priced at 20/1 and at least has some course history on his side – but given his form has been mostly indifferent this year and he’ll likely have one eye on the US Masters, again it’s hard to make too compelling a case for him here.

As a San Antonio resident, on paper Jimmy Walker perhaps looks like a more interesting proposition at 25/1, but when you actually take a closer look at his record at the Valero Texas Open, it doesn’t seem home advantage has done him many favours. Walker did finish third here in 2010, but he hasn’t got anywhere near that in his subsequent four starts, with only a T16 finish last year to really shout about. Couple that with the fact that Walker has been running cold since successfully defending his Sony Open Title at the start of the year and he looks like another pick to avoid.

Having already covered the pros and cons of backing Dustin Johnson, our round-up of the market leaders concludes with another golfer who shares the same surname, Zach Johnson, who is priced at longer odds of 28/1. Unlike his namesake, Zach has plenty of experience at the Valero Texas Open, winning the event twice at its previous La Cantera location and also finishing T6 at TPC San Antonio last year – so if you are going to back anyone at middling odds, he looks about the best of the bunch.


Having largely dismissed most of the big names that head up the market, we now cast our eyes further down the table to see which outsiders might present viable options for a speculative each-way punt. As outlined earlier on in our preview, the Valero Texas Open is an event where long-odds golfers tend to flourish – and no better was this demonstrated than last year, when Bowditch romped home from a starting price of 700/1. While it’s unlikely we’ll see anything quite like that this year, there are a number of players well worth a look at triple-digit prices ahead of the tournament.

First up is Brendan Steele – a man who previously named the TPC San Antonio as his favourite course during a fan Q&A – at odds of 50/1. The fact that the 31-year-old pro bagged his maiden USPGA Tour win here certainly goes some way to explaining his love for the venue, but having also finished T4 here the following year, it looks like there’s more than just sentiment behind his answer. Steele also comes into this year’s renewal on the back of a runner-up finish in the Humana Challenge and a T10 at the Honda Classic, so he should again be brimming with confidence in San Antonio.

Coming in at longer odds of 100/1 is Cameron Tringale, who boasts fifth and eighth-place finishes at the Valero Texas Open to his name in recent years. Though he finished just outside the top 40 last year, the fact that he led the field for greens hit marks him out as something of a course specialist and it’s not as if the Californian pro is coming into the event cold either – he finished T17 in the Valspar Championship last time out and should probably be shorter than triple-figures for the win.

Another player trading at odds that look overly generous is Kevin Chappell at 150/1. True, the 28-year-old is still searching for his maiden UPSGA Tour win, but as we know from Bowditch, the Valero Texas Open is an event that can be kind to those still seeking their first victory. With Chappell being an excellent driver of the ball and generally one of the better players on the tour yet to notch a win, now could definitely be the time for him to improve on the runner-up finish he had here in 2011.

If we’re to find a rank outsider that even comes close to Bowditch’s colossal starting price this year, our best bet probably lies with Andres Gonzales at 300/1. The bearded maestro may only boast one top-5 finish on the USPGA Tour so far, but with that result coming at El Camaleon – a circuit designed by Greg Norman, who also mapped out the Oaks Course – he should be able to get to grips with the terrain in San Antonio and his rank of 21 for greens in regulation in 2015 so far also bodes well. Given Gonzales also showed some form on the West Coast swing, he may just be one to keep your eye on this time out. After all, this is the Valero Texas Open – stranger things have happened.