Valero Texas Open - Winner

We are one week out from the greatest show in Golf at Augusta but before that takes all of our attention we have one last chance to boost the betting fund for the year's first major. The Oaks course that has hosted this event for over a decade now is one of the trickier layouts on the tour despite yielding low scores in recent years.

It's not a track that can be bullied off the tee and a certain degree of precision from tee to green is certainly advantageous over the week. Approach play is key. The greens are among the most difficult to hit on the tour and having a stellar short game will probably not be enough to cope with that challenge throughout the week. Approach play will need to be on point.

Poor to average putters have excelled here down the years so I put little emphasis on what happens on the greens; in fact, I'd tend to favour those whose weakness lies with the flatstick.

The last four winners have all finished inside the top four on SG Approach for the week so it is undoubtedly the area to look at. As ever, those performing well in that department will be worth considering, as well as those who may be a shade more inconsistent, but have a greater upside when they do get firing.

Gary Woodland at 33/1 (Eight Places)

Gary Woodland finished sixth here last year and there's every reason to think he can repeat that performance given his return to form of late. Last year he arrived here off the back of three missed cuts in his previous four events, as opposed to this year where he has posted two top fives in his last four.

Off the tee, he hasn't been setting the world alight but the rest of his game is in solid nick and that bodes well for the Oaks course this week. Approach play has been superb this season as it has been throughout his career and he certainly looks to be returning to the form that seen him capture the US Open at Pebble Beach. Similar to Spieth last year who marked his comeback complete with a win here, Woodland may see this as a big opportunity whilst some others further up the market have one eye on next week.

1.5pts each-way G.Woodland 33/1 (1/5 Eight)

Gary Woodland - 1.5pts e/w @ 33/1

Kevin Streelman at 50/1 (Eight Places)

We backed Mito Pereira at 125/1 at the Valspar and a steady effort there sees him go off half that price this week. Although I think he may have another big chance here in Texas, my preference is for another one of our Valspar picks Kevin Streelman who nabbed a piece of the place at 100/1 there.

He too goes off half of his Valspar price but he managed a seventh place there and with two top 10s in his last two appearances here at the Oaks, looks the better option. Off the tee he is as reliable as they come and his approach game has improved in recent weeks.

A resident at Scottsdale he should relish this desert layout and with improved performances in the biggest tournaments in recent years surely must have a big chance of winning one like this soon. He has the added incentive of not having qualified for the Masters and with a win would secure his place. 

1.25pts each-way K.Streelman 50/1 (1/5 Eight)

Kevin Streelman - 1.25pts e/w @ 50/1

David Lipsky at 125/1 (Eight Places)

A return to TPC San Antonio will be welcome for David Lipsky who managed a Korn Ferry win on this property a couple of years ago on the second course (The Canyons). The design of that course may be different, but it is a Pete Dye design and the skills learned there will be beneficial to avoid the plenty of trouble that awaits around the many corners of the Oaks Course.

More accurate types have excelled here down the years and following his top 10 last week in PuntaCana I was surprised to see any triple-figure quotes. It is a step up from anything he has achieved before but he is certainly capable of competing on the right layouts and the Oaks would certainly be one. He's a stereotypical all-rounder and this should be a course where he can score well on.

0.75pt each-way D.Lipsky 125/1 (1/5 Eight)

David Lipsky - 0.75pts e/w @ 125/1

Matthew Nesmith at 100/1 (Eight Places)

Matthew Nesmith went mighty close to landing his maiden PGA tour victory a few weeks ago at the Valspar finishing one shot out of the playoff spot and must be considered at triple-figure prices on another course that should suit. He finished 34th on debut here last year and these types of tracks that tend to suit the better ball-strikers certainly suit Nesmith.

His narrow miss in Florida was a career-best effort and it certainly looks worth the gamble to me that he follows that in with another solid effort, this time in a weaker field. Accuracy is a particular strength and he should be able to gain on the field this week on a course littered with some tough bunkers and difficult runoffs around greens. His putting does tend to be inconsistent but the upside on positive weeks is pretty strong.

0.75pt each-way M.Nesmith 100/1 (1/5 Eight)

Matthew Nesmith - 0.75pts e/w @ 100/1

Adam Svensson at 125/1 (Eight Places)

Adam Svensson is enjoying a much better second season on tour having gone back to the KFT after a 2019 season on the main tour that featured just three top 20s. This time around, although inconsistent once again he has managed two top tens at the Sony and Honda. Again, those are places that suit the better ball strikers and Svensson should welcome this week's layout. His two appearances here have yielded two made cuts both on the main tour and KFT without many heroics. Nevertheless, I think he will have learned a lot from his demise from a promising position at the Honda. It was a tough final day but he had a serious chance of competing whilst Berger came back to the field that Sunday. The Canadian tumbled a little also though eventually finishing 9th. He should learn from that though and we've seen what can happen with the likes of Ewen Ferguson on the DPWT winning after disappointment a few weeks previous. Svensson has the talent to win on tour, and this looks like one of the more likelier venues.

0.75pt each-way A.Svensson 125/1 (1/5 8)

Adam Svensson - 0.75pts e/w @ 125/1

Nick Watney at 250/1 (Eight Places)

Charles Howell and Peter Malnati were another couple worth considering at triple-figure prices. As was Dawie Van Der Walt who despite plenty of missed cuts lately finished 24th here last year in the Korn Ferry and showed signs at PGA National that his game was improving. He finished 41st in Puerto Rico and missed the cut last week by two shots in Punta Cana. He could surprise a few at 500/1.

However, I'd prefer to take a chance on Nick Watney who doesn't look far off a big effort sometime soon. Four made cuts on the trot in high profile events with stronger fields than this week is a very good sign and his approach play has been in good shape almost all season.

His game off the tee will need to improve if he is to win or contend, but a slight improvement in that department could see him land a big finish. There was improvement last time out at Sawgrass after Bayhill and if he can manage similar or better then he could figure. 

0.75pt each-way N.Watney 250/1 (1/5 Eight)

Nick Watney - 0.75pts e/w @ 250/1