It’s now only one week until the Masters, the tournament that many believe to be the very best in golf. Before golf fans can concentrate fully on what promises to be one of the greatest Masters of all time, there’s the small matter of this weekend’s Valero Texas Open.
It would be easy for the world’s best players to take the week before the Masters off to try and fine tune their game for Augusta but many have decided to embrace the Valero Texas Open as an important part of that fine tuning process. Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth are all in town. They’ll have support this week but it’s another from towards the top of the betting, Billy Horschel, who looks the man to beat at 25/1 with BetVictor.
The Valero Texas Open is one of many tournaments to have been shunted about due to the reshuffling of the PGA Tour season. It has now replaced the Houston Open as the warm up event for the Masters. The challenges posed by the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio suggests that this is an excellent bit of casting.
TPC San Antonio provides many of the same tests as Augusta National. The fast and sloping greens will seriously test the players’ putting, there is serious danger lurking off the fairways and the course usually plays firm and fast. The speed of the course allows shorter hitters to be competitive even though it’s a fairly long par 72 at 7,435 yards. The dry spell in San Antonio suggests the fairways will be as fiery as ever but scoring won’t be easy, especially on the weekend when the wind is forecast to get up which traditionally makes scoring much more difficult.
|Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio||San Antonio, Texas||7,435 Yards||$7,500,000|
The Valero Texas Open has provided several surprise winners over the years. Andrew Landry went off at 200/1 12 months ago whilst Steven Bowditch was even longer at 350/1. In between, Kevin Chappell, Charley Hoffman and Jimmy Walker were easier to find as they had shown previous form contending in very difficult PGA Tour events and even major championships.
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2018||Andrew Landry||-17||7 Strokes|
|2017||Kevin Chappell||-12||1 Stroke|
|2016||Charley Hoffman||-12||1 Stroke|
|2015||Jimmy Walker||-11||4 Strokes|
|2014||Steven Bowditch||-8||1 Stroke|
Analysis: Tournament to Come Alive Inside 100 Yards
Any player who wants to win the Valero Texas Open must keep their ball in play off the tee. Top class approach play will also be important but it’s what happens from 100 yards and in that will really set the top of the leaderboard apart from the rest. The tiers on the greens at TPC San Antonio put a premium on pitching as players cannot hit the wrong part of the putting surfaces. Moreover, many of the greens are raised above the fairways creating runoff areas and false fronts. As hitting greens in regulation is difficult it is vital to regularly to keep bogeys off the card by getting up and down which is why scrambling and putting have proven to be very important stats.
Horschel Up For the Challenge
It doesn’t matter where the Valero Texas Open has found itself in the schedule it has provided a very difficult challenge. The scoring average has always been over the par of 72 so this is a tournament for technically sound players who also have the mental fortitude to bounce back when things don’t go to plan. Billy Horschel is one such player.
In the earlier stages of his career, Horschel was something of a streaky player. Mixed in with times of struggle he pulled off some very big results including winning the 2014 FedEx Cup and although he hasn’t won since the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson, he has developed a real consistency of late.
Horschel hasn’t missed a cut in 17 tournaments (he withdrew from the Dell Technologies Championship) and has secured four finishes of 11th or better in that time. He’s shown some real grit when competing on the PGA Tour’s toughest including in the Valero Texas Open where he has three top four finishes. He doesn’t need to qualify for the Masters but is intent on heading to August National on the back of a win which is a real possibility thanks to his quality ball striking and solid short game, so back Horschel to win at 25/1 with BetVictor.
Byrd the Outsider to Consider
As we’ve seen, two players with prices in triple figures have won here in the last five years and there may be another this week in the shape of Jonathan Byrd. He comes into this week’s event on the back of a very good week at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship and will be fancying his chances of nabbing the final place in the Masters up for grabs in San Antonio.
Byrd has competed in the Valero Texas Open three times since 2002 and although he’s never made the cut, that previous experience should stand him in good stead. Moreover, he tops the scrambling stats on the PGA Tour this season and ranks well for strokes gained around the green, so chance a small stakes bet on Byrd at 200/1 with Betfair.
Final Verdict: Billy Horschel to Win
This is one of the toughest weeks on the PGA Tour. Each of the players competing at TPC San Antonio who already has a place in the Masters understands this and has made the decision to compete to sharpen their game. Billy Horschel is one of those looking to ensure his game is in as good a place as possible but he is never content just to turn up and pick up a cheque. Horschel is a steely competitor who has both the technical and mental tools required to win the Valero Texas Open at 25/1 with BetVictor.
About the Valero Texas Open
The Texas Open has a history that stretches back around a century, with the first tournament having taken place back in 1922. Since 2002, the tournament has been sponsored by Valero, a San Antonio-based Energy Corporation, with the event now known as the Valero Texas Open.
The competition has had several name changes over the years, including the Texas Open Invitational, the San Antonio Open Invitational, the Westin Texas Open and the Texas Open at La Cantera. Every tournament has been played in and around the San Antonio area of Texas.
This is a lucrative tournament for the winners and as of 2019 the prize fund has been a whopping $7,500,000, having been increased from $6,200,000. Canadian Corey Conners was the first player to benefit from the increase in prize money when he secured a two-stroke win over Charley Hoffman in 2019. He pocketed a cool $1,350,000 for his efforts.
Leonard’s Two in a Row
Dallas-born Justin Leonard picked up a memorable victory in Texas at the Westin Texas Open at La Cantera in 2000. Leonard dominated the tournament with four superb rounds, going on to secure an impressive five-stroke victory over runner-up, the fellow American Mark Wiebe.
Justin retained the tournament the following year with another impressive display. This time the Texas man beat JJ Henry and Matt Kuchar by two strokes. Several Texas-born stars have won the Texas Open throughout the years.
Leonard’s last Texas Open victory was in 2007. It was a thrilling tournament, with Leonard edging past Swede Jesper Parnevik in a playoff to seal his third Texas Open crown. Leonard, the winner of the 1997 Open Championship, is one of nine men to have won the Texas Open on more than one occasion.
Multiple Winners of the Texas Open
|Year(s)||Multiple Texas Open Winners|
|1960, 1961, 1962||Arnold Palmer|
|2000, 2001, 2007||Justin Leonard|
|1928, 1929||Bill Mehlhorn|
|1948, 1950||Sam Snead|
|1939, 1951||Dutch Harrison|
|1973, 1986||Ben Crenshaw|
|1982, 1993||Jay Haas|
|1995, 1999||Duffy Waldorf|
|2008, 2009||Zach Johnson|
Two Texans Battle for Gold in 1940
Two of Texas’s most famous golfers battled for supremacy in the 1940 Texas Open. Waxahachie man Byron Nelson and Stephenville-born Ben Hogan went head-to-head at Brackenridge Park.
The pair tied at 13-under par, posting scores of 271, resulting in a playoff. Nelson held his nerve to get the win, which was his one and only Texas Open success. As for Hogan, he finished runner-up three years running (1940, 1941 and 1942). However, he finally won the Texas Open in 1946, beating Sammy Byrd by six strokes at Willow Springs Golf Club.
Hogan’s career reached new levels after that victory in Texas; he won his first major (the US PGA Championship) later that same year… and then went on to win eight more! He is joint fourth on the all-time list of major winners, level with Gary Player, with only Walter Hagen, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus having bettered his record.
Arnie’s First Win in San Antonio
1960 was a sensational year for another great of the game: Arnold Palmer. Despite a shaky last round, the American ace held on for a two-stroke victory over Doug Ford and Frank Stranahan. Palmer went on to seal three Texas Open victories on the spin (alongside the seven majors he landed during his illustrious career).
The same season, Arnie also won the Palm Springs Desert Classic, the Baton Rouge Open Invitational, the Pensacola Open Invitational, the Masters, the US Open, the Insurance City Open Invitational and the Mobile Sertoma Open Invitational. 1960 was a year in which the legendary Palmer showed real dominance.
Armour Ends Drought
When Tommy Armour III picked up the Phoenix Open in January 1990, the Colorado man was hoping to win many more PGA Tour events during his career. However, Armour would not taste victory on the PGA Tour again for almost 14 years. He ended his drought by winning the 2003 Texas Open.
Armour, the grandson of the three-time major winner Tommy Armour, did it in style by hitting a tournament record score of 254 (which was 26 under par). He went on to finish a staggering seven strokes ahead of Loren Roberts and Bob Tway. After his long-awaited win, Armour said, “I’ve always felt like I’ve underachieved for the talent I have. I take it serious, but it’s not the end-all.”
Gamez Finally Wins a Tournament
Tommy Armour III is not the only player to end a long drought by winning in Texas. In 2005, Robert Gamez ended a 15-year wait for a tournament victory. A year after turning professional, Gamez won the Northern Telecom Tucson Open and the Nestle Invitational, ending 1990 as Rookie of the Year.
However, Gamez would not win another PGA Tour competition until the 2005 Texas Open, 394 events later, which remains a PGA Tour record. Gamez struck 262 at La Cantera, beating Olin Browne by three strokes.
Laird Beats McIlroy in the Battle of the Brits
The Texas Open has been dominated by American winners over the years. However, Brits Martin Laird and Rory McIlroy battled for the trophy in a memorable 2013 showdown at TPC San Antonio. In the end it was the Scot who held his nerve to see Rory off to seal the win and claim the final Masters spot.
Laird became the first British winner since fellow Scot Bobby Cruickshank won the 1927 Texas Open. A year prior to that, Angus man MacDonald Smith won at Brackenridge Park. At the time of writing, all British winners of the Texas Open have been Scottish.
Low Scores Typical In Texas
There have been plenty of very low scores in the Texas Open over the years. As mentioned, Tommy Armour III’s 2003 performance produced the lowest four-round score of 254, which was 26 shots under par. But there has actually been a player who went one better: back in 1955 Pennsylvania man Mike Souchak won the tournament an impressive 27 under par (albeit with a slight higher overall score of 257). That was the lowest 72-hole score in a PGA event for many years (John Huston bettered it with 28 under par at the Hawaiian Open in 1998, since when it has been reduced on a number of occasions and at the time of writing stands at 33 under par: Steve Sticker in the first four rounds of the Bob Hope Classic in 2009).
In total there have been 13 players over the years who have win the tournament with scores of under 20 par or better.
Winners of Texas Open with Lowest Scores
|Player||Score||To Par||Winning Margin|
|Mike Souchak||257||−27||7 strokes|
|Tommy Armour III||254||−26||7 strokes|
|Chandler Harper||259||−25||2 strokes|
|Jack Burke, Jr.||260||−24||6 strokes|
|Donnie Hammond||258||−22||7 strokes|
|Corey Pavin||259||−21||8 strokes|
|Corey Conners||268||−20||2 strokes|
|Duffy Waldorf||268||−20||6 strokes|
|Tony Holguin||264||−20||1 stroke|
|Sam Snead||264||−20||2 strokes|
|Ben Hogan||264||−20||6 strokes|