Walker, Texas Ranger For Valero Open
A stellar cast hit the Lone Star state for the Valero Open just two weeks before the big one in Augusta. Plenty big names will be looking to make their mark.
The Texas Open dates back to 1922 and only two non-Americans have won it in the last forty years. The tournament has been moved all over the calendar, from the autumn to May to the third week of April, but this year, as in 2014, it fills the schedule in the fortnight before the Masters, offering an opportunity for players to fine tune their game ahead of the year’s first Major.
The tournament has been held at the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio since 2010. Designed by Greg Norman, it has a reputation as a tough course, and is still a challenge, despite the removal of some of the run-off areas around greens and other minor tweaks after the 2012 edition. The narrow fairways and deep bunkers place the emphasis firmly on accuracy, effective scrambling and solid putting.
In The Bunker
Jordan Speith goes into this event as the antepost favourite following his victory at the Valspar Championship two weeks back, but I think he can be opposed at short odds. He finished tenth at San Antonio last year, but I don’t think the course suits his style, and although his results have been solid this season, his putting has rescued some wayward iron play. At 8/1, there’s more value to be found elsewhere in the field.
San Antonio resident Jimmy Walker hasn’t made the top twenty in his last three outings, and a second round 76 put paid to his chances at the WGC Cadillac Championships two weeks ago.
But his form going into this event last year was also modest, and that didn’t stop him recording his best result yet, recovering from a poor first round to finish sixteenth.
Back him at 20/1 to return to form on his home patch.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for Zach Johnson, with top tens in Phoenix and Hawaii interspersed with two missed cuts and a couple of poor efforts at the Sony Open and the WGC Cadillac. But he bounced back at Bay Hill with an excellent final round of 66 to break into the top ten, and if carries that form into this event, where he finished sixth last season on his second attempt, he’ll be a serious contender at 25/1.
After top tens in Phoenix and Torrey Pines, Martin Laird has struggled in his last two outings, but his record in this event means he can’t be overlooked. Many top players have struggled on what is one of the PGA’s toughest courses, but Laird has thrived at this venue in recent years. He finished ninth there in 2011 before winning it in 2013, and currently shares the course record. He’s definitely one for the shortlist and offers plenty of value at odds of 35/1.