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Valero Texas Open
TPC San Antonio – Par 72 – 7,435 yards

When the PGA Tour revamped their schedule this year to have a Major every month starting in April (or March if you give The PLAYERS honorary Major status), there was always going to be a tournament or two that was going to get the short end of the stick in terms of field quality.

This week's Tour stop at the Valero Texas Open is one such event, as it's sandwiched between the WGC Match Play and the first Major of the year with the Masters next week. There are still guys who like to play the week before a Major though, and thanks to the rule of established guys having to make a start at every event at least once over the span of every few years, guys will have to be a part of fields like this during 'trap weeks' on the schedule.

For instance, this week's favorite – Rickie Fowler (+1000) – has not been a part of this event for years, and comes into this week's event looking to get his game to a point where it can peak next week at Augusta. Being Fowler on the odds list are names like Tony Finau (+1600), Jordan Spieth (+1800), and Matt Kuchar (+1800), and after that the field really thins out in terms of depth. And outside of Kuchar – who might be feeling some fatigue after going the distance in last week's Match Play – the recent starts by Finau and Spieth don't exactly exude confidence in backing either of them at those odds.

Regarding the course, TPC San Antonio's main defense is the wind and bettors should expect it to be a factor at some point this week. Whether it's regarding some favorable draws for some with the wind picking up at certain times, or just causing havoc for players throughout the week, avoiding the big mistakes will be what differentiates between the guys who have a shot at winning, and guys who end up with a Top 30 or 40.

Being a course that has the design finger prints of Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia all over it, dealing with the wind defense isn't the only concern for players this week. Both of those players were/are known for their tremendous driving of the ball and being long and accurate (especially) off the tee matters here more than it does at other tracks Tour players see. Length always helps, especially in a headwind, but keeping the ball on the short grass to give yourself shots at great GIR numbers is a difference maker as well.

As you can tell, knowing what to expect at this course can go a long way in determining one's success at TPC San Antonio, and it's three guys a bit further down the odds list that have some good history here that I'm hitching my wagon to this week.

Odds per

Golfers to Watch

Billy Horschel (+2500) – Horschel is among that next group of players just outside the top favorites for the event, but I've got him valued a bit better than what his current price suggests. Given that nobody in this field has the resume at TPC San Antonio without a win that Horschel does the past six years – Two MC's, 3rd twice, 4th, and an 11th last year – this could be the year that we see him get over that hump.

Horschel's a guy that has not played up to his own standards in 2019 off the tee, but considering he finished the 2018 season ranked 17th in Strokes Gained: Off the tee, it's likely only a matter of time before we see him turn things around in that regard. He's always been a good putter and that's continued this year (8th in Strokes Gained: Putting), and with a 17th ranking on Tour in driving accuracy last year, a windy track that he's familiar with shouldn't bother him at all.

In a field that's void of many of the game's best players, Horschel's a guy that should be grouped closer to the favorites in price and not in the same class as the names (Jason Kokrak, Jim Furyk) that he's currently listed at.

Jimmy Walker (+5000) – Walker is a Texas native and for years during the Texas swing he's been a name bettors can expect to find near the top of leaderboards. He's a past champion here, having won in this event in 2015 by four shots over runner up Jordan Spieth, and with all six times he's made the weekend at this course (6 of 9 in made cuts) seeing finishes of 31st or better, including three Top 10's and five of the six being Top 16's or better, it's hard not to like Walker's resume at TPC San Antonio.

If there was better recent form from Walker, his odds would be much lower given that course history, but at a place where it's been feast or famine for him the past nine years, at +5000, I'm willing to back this week being “feast-like” for Walker once again.

Joaquin Niemann (+6600) – While Niemann may not have the accuracy numbers analytically that some will be looking for here (109th in driving accuracy), and definitely doesn't have the putting numbers (207th in Strokes Gained: Putting) this year to be consistently backed, you can't overlook his great ball striking numbers overall this year.

Niemann is 38th on Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, ranks 31st in approach, and 53rd off the tee. Put those numbers with a hot putter for four days and maybe a bounce or two, and Niemann could find himself in the picture for his 1st PGA Tour win. After all, he came 6th at this tournament a year ago in his debut, catching fire over the weekend with a pair of 67's on the final two days. A bit better start was all may have took to find him in contention for a trophy lifting, and at these odds, the price is more than fair in terms of hoping he can get that putting stroke down for a few days.

Valero Texas Open -
Rickie Fowler 10/1
Tony Finau 16/1
Jordan Spieth 18/1
Matt Kuchar 18/1
Billy Horschel 25/1
Jason Kokrak 25/1
Sungjae Im 25/1
Jim Furyk 28/1
Byeong Hun An 33/1
Lucas Glover 33/1
Abraham Ancer 40/1
Haotong Li 40/1
Jhonattan Vegas 40/1
Lucas Bjerregaard 40/1
Ryan Moore 40/1
Aaron Baddeley 50/1
Andrew Putnam 50/1
Charley Hoffman 50/1
Daniel Berger 50/1
Graeme McDowell 50/1
J B Holmes 50/1
Jimmy Walker 50/1
Joost Luiten 50/1
Luke List 50/1
Ryan Palmer 50/1
Si Woo Kim 50/1
Austin Cook 66/1
Denny McCarthy 66/1
Dylan Frittelli 66/1
Joaquin Niemann 66/1
Joel Dahmen 66/1
Justin Harding 66/1
Ollie Schniederjans 66/1
Russell Henley 66/1
Sung Kang 66/1
Trey Mullinax 66/1
Andrew Landry 80/1
Brian Harman 80/1
Bud Cauley 80/1
Chesson Hadley 80/1
Jonathan Byrd 80/1
JT Poston 80/1
Luke Donald 80/1
Martin Kaymer 80/1
Nick Taylor 80/1
Chris Kirk 100/1
Chris Stroud 100/1
Mackenzie Hughes 100/1
Matt Jones 100/1
Peter Uihlein 100/1
Sam Burns 100/1
Scott Stallings 100/1
Wyndham Clark 100/1
Brendan Steele 125/1
Brian Gay 125/1
C T Pan 125/1
Ernie Els 125/1
Harold Varner III 125/1
Harris English 125/1
Jonas Blixt 125/1
Kelly Kraft 125/1
Kevin Streelman 125/1
Kramer Hickok 125/1
Kyle Stanley 125/1
Kyoung Hoon Lee 125/1
Martin Laird 125/1
Nick Watney 125/1
Padraig Harrington 125/1
Rory Sabbatini 125/1
Ryan Armour 125/1
Adam Schenk 150/1
Beau Hossler 150/1
Ben Silverman 150/1
Curtis Luck 150/1
Julian Etulain 150/1
Kevin Tway 150/1
Roger Sloan 150/1
Sepp Straka 150/1
Vaughn Taylor 150/1

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