Nate’s Valero Texas Open PGA Expert Picks
NATE’S VALERO TEXAS OPEN PGA EXPERT PICKS – Howdy, y’all. Welcome to the Valero Texas Open for a little appetizer that will only make us hungrier for next week when all eyes will be turned to Augusta National for the Masters.
Before we get ahead of ourselves dreaming of Magnolia Lane and green jackets, let’s try and build up our bankrolls this week.
My co-host for our podcast Godzilla Wins wrote up an excellent preview for TPC San Antonio, so I won’t belabor it here. I’ll just send you to read it at your leisure so you know what to look for.
I’m going to adapt our podcast format into this article to give you some hard info nuggets as to why we’ve chosen this wild selection of names that maybe you aren’t familiar with as most of the field will be seeking to capture a title here and earn the last spot in The Masters next week.
Be sure to check out our podcast, Clubhouse Picks, in which you can hear our musings and banter. If you don’t have an hour, I’ll break down some of our picks here.
These are guys we’re looking at if you only like betting studs at the top of the leaderboard. We usually take a look at the top three or four guys on the odds board and choose the one we like the most.
Rickie Fowler (+1800)
This one just makes the most sense. It was more or less a process of elimination for us to land on him given that the other choices were Hatton, Si Woo or Hideki.
Hatton is nursing a hand/wrist injury and got swept losing all three matches last week in the WGC Matchplay. Hideki withdrew after two matches with a neck injury. So, both of those guys are out, as I’m not interested in injury questions at such short odds. It’s also fair to wonder about motivation as they are already locked in for next week.
Si Woo is intriguing and certainly has the chops to win here, but his focus may likewise be on August National and he could very well treat this as more of a tuneup than anything.
That leaves Rickie. He has been finding his game in dramatic fashion this season after a couple of years in the golf wilderness of swing issues.
He’s gained strokes with his irons at every event since September of last year. He’s made nine straight cuts and posted six top-20s in that span. The game is strong right now.
Oh, not to mention he isn’t qualified for The Masters, so the motivation to win is probably strongest for him.
If you’re looking for a stud to anchor your betting card, he has to be it.
These are solid, reliable guys in the mid-range tier (think 30/1-80/1ish). They are reliable and you can count on a handful of guys in that range to be sniffing around in contention. These are who we have our eyes on this week. These are some guys that we glossed over in the show a little bit that maybe deserve more consideration than we gave them initially.
Si Woo Kim (+2200)
Si Woo can absolutely win at this event. When the putter is cooperating even marginally, the dude can stare down some of the best in the world. He’s done it on some of the biggest stages, like when he took down The Players. He can also slide into abysmal mediocrity when the flat stick proves uncooperative.
The ball striking numbers are solid, and he gained strokes with his putter last week. If you trust that he’ll be motivated to close this week, he’s got to be worth a really hard look.
Matt Wallace (+4000)
I didn’t go over him much on the show, but the more I think about it, the more I like him. My initial reluctance was that it’s pretty tough to find winning mojo two weeks in a row when you aren’t a reliably elite player (even if you are reliably elite, honestly).
I’m starting to think that maybe he could go back-to-back though.
His short game is elite, ranking 2nd in SG: Around the Green and his total ballstriking numbers are really solid for this field as well, particularly his irons.
He won a breezy tournament last week, so maybe he can pop another one here and earn an invite to The Masters.
Thomas Detry (+4500)
We briefly mentioned him, but neither of us were willing to commit to wanting to put our names to it. I’ll tell you why we’re both probably wrong.
If I’m looking at this from the lens of how I was handicapping this which is bombers, Detry makes total sense. The man can hit the long ball with the best in the world.
The accuracy concerns off the tee aren’t a huge concern for me and nothing about the rest of his game strikes me as a huge red flag.
He’s coming off a solid performance at Corales, which, near as we can tell, is a decent comparison to TPC San Antonio this week.
You could do worse than betting the Belgian Bomber.
Aaron Rai (+5500)
If he’s playing, Jack will find an argument to justify betting him. He’s always been a guy that I loved to bet on when he was on the DP World Tour, but I haven’t found him terribly enticing to bet since he’s made the leap across the pond.
The ballstriking numbers are still solid, and he’s ludicrously accurate with the driver. Putter has always been an issue, but it’s not unusual for bad putters to put together some good rounds and win if the ballstriking stays elite.
He had a decent result at The Players and should be more well-rested than many of the guys in the field.
I worry about the distance, but if the approach game is strong, he’ll likely give himself a bunch of looks at birdie.
This is a guy that we are always finding a reason to bet on, but they never win. These guys likely won’t either, but here’s to hoping.
Will Gordon (+8000)
I have very little to justify this. All I can tell you is I’m sticking to my guns and betting bombers. The results have cooled off since last fall when he stormed through the end of the KFT season and started the PGA Tour season off hot.
I’ve loved him since the Korn Ferry days. He’ll get more comfortable, and he will win at some point. I’m happy to be surprised this week if he pops up with a win, but a lot of things are going to need to get better in a hurry for it to happen.
Maybe he just needed a change of scenery and a couple of weeks off.
Like I said in the intro, this is more a bet placed on faith than on actual reason. Go with God.
These are guys who we bet on and then instantly regretted.
Beau Hossler (+6000)
I have spent so much damn money betting on Beau Hossler to win that it’s bordering on insanity. Every single dollar I’ve placed on him has lost because he’s still seeking career win number one.
Not a lot to like here, but I’m trying hard to talk myself into it. Short game wizards can win on this course. Beau certainly qualifies as that. His short game stats are solid across the board and he’s an elite short putter ranking 11th in putting inside 10’.
The downside is he’s coming into this off four straight missed cuts. To make matters even worse, the PGA Tour media machine chose to promote him extra hard by writing a featured article while splashing videos around their social media.
I had convinced myself to bet him before all of that and instantly regretted it after I saw all of the media exposure.
The narrative may be real that he’s getting his mojo back, and he’s often associated with Texas golf having played at UT-Austin. But I just don’t know anymore.
These are our wild card guys who could pop up and make us rich. They could also be out of the tournament by noon on Thursday. We’re just throwing darts here and hoping for something good at long odds.
S.H. Kim (+10000)
He’s been pretty average since a pretty nice start to the season in January and February. Kim is making cuts, but the finishes aren’t jumping off the page.
S.H. is strong off the tee, relative to this field. He’s also a very good putter.
What we’re hoping for in this scenario is that he can hit a few more greens so that his elite wand can go to work. If he can give himself some birdie chances with the irons, he can absolutely put together a winning effort against this field.
His track record on Tour isn’t long, so we’re still learning where he plays well. On the surface, it seems to be places that favor solid iron play. TPC San Antonio is a place that leans heavy on approach numbers. He’s worth a little nibble at 100/1.