TEXAS OPEN: All eyes are on Augusta next week but there’s some business to attend to in South Texas first, as a stronger than expected field led by World No. 2 Rory McIlroy will look to win one of the PGA Tour’s oldest events, the Texas Open.

First staged in 1922, this tournament has been a fixture of the San Antonio area for over 100 years and counts among its champions some of the true greats of the game, names like Hagen, Nelson, Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Trevino, and Watson. For the past four years it’s been held the week before the Masters, which was expected to negatively impact the quality of the field, but that really hasn’t happened as more players are choosing to get competitive reps leading up to a major instead of rest or on-site preparation. In addition to Rory, top players teeing it up this week include Ludvig Aberg (15.0), Jordan Spieth (24.0), Hideki Matsuyama (24.0), Max Homa (32.0), Matt Fitzpatrick (33.0), and Collin Morikawa (34.0). The leaderboard has a chance to be pretty spicy.

The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio has played host to this tournament since it was opened in 2010, so most of the guys in the field will have good familiarity with the place. Designed by PGA Tour nemesis Greg Norman, it’s a rugged track that measures nearly 7,500 yards and has trees and native underbrush lining almost every hole. It almost always plays firm and fast, so you don’t have to bomb it off the tee to contend, and things can get really difficult when the wind blows, as it often does. The sticky Bermuda rough and the undulating, difficult-to-hold greens only complicate matters, and scoring is generally a challenge here, as the 20-under mark has only been reached once in the past decade and the cut usually hovers around even par.

Corey Conners hoisted the trophy last year, his second victory here since 2019, and if you like him for the hat trick you can currently get him at 30.0 (coincidentally the exact same price he went off at last year). But he’ll have plenty of big-name competition, as mentioned, and this tournament has also seen some long-odds champs, with the likes of J.J. Spaun, Kevin Chappell, and Andrew Landry getting the job done in the past decade, so Conners will certainly have his work cut out for him if he hopes to become the first repeat champion since Zach Johnson in ’08-’09.

Here’s what I’m thinking this week:

WIN MARKET

Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)

Hideki Matsuyama (24.0)- After a down year in 2023 by his lofty standards Matsuyama has officially returned to form, recording five top-25 finishes in his past six starts, including a victory at the Genesis Invitational and a T6 at The Players last time out. He’s still one of the best ball-strikers in the world, ranking 4th on Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green, and his short game has been phenomenal this year, as he actually leads the Tour in strokes gained around the green, which is difficult to believe if you remember the type of player he was a decade ago. When he’s playing like he is now Hideki is a threat to win anytime he tees it up, and he finished 15th here last year, so he certainly knows his way around TPC San Antonio. He’s a blue-chip option this week and is well worth a bet at better than 20/1.

Billy Horschel (41.0)- Horschel won’t be playing in the Masters this year unless he wins this week, and his frustration about this predicament was evident in his press conference on Tuesday. He did make some interesting comments regarding the motivation of players who are making the trip to Augusta vs. those who aren’t, intimating that perhaps those who weren’t yet qualified were focusing on winning the tournament, while the others might be taking more of a “see where my game is at” attitude. Horschel is very much part of the former camp, and though he hasn’t played quite well enough for a Masters invite this year he’s been playing some really good golf over the past month, finishing 12th or better in 3 of his past 4 starts, including a T7 in Houston last week. He also has a great record at TPC San Antonio, finishing 11th or better in 4 of his past 7 appearances at this event, with three top-5s. Look out for Horschel this week– he has a much better chance than his price would indicate.

Charley Hoffmann (150.0)- The 47-year-old Hoffmann proved a few weeks ago that he can still compete with anybody on the right track and under the right conditions, as he tore up his old stomping grounds at TPC Scottsdale to the tune of 21-under, including 64-64 over the weekend, and nearly picked up his 5th PGA Tour victory before losing in a playoff to Nick Taylor. He’ll be making his 500th career start on Tour this week and he’ll be doing it at another place that can be considered the “right” track for him– TPC San Antonio. The term “horses for courses” often comes to mind when handicapping golf tournaments, and in Hoffmann we definitely have a horse for this particular course. His record here over the past decade includes a victory in 2016, back-to-back runner-up finishes in ’19 and ’21 (the tournament was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic), a 3rd-place showing, a pair of 11th-plce finishes, and a T22 last year. He’s simply a tough man to beat on this golf course and we’ve seen recent evidence that he’s still got plenty of birdies left in the tank. Given that set of facts, Hoffmann sure feels like a must-bet at a price like 150.0.


THE STRIKER Tues: ARSENAL v CHELSEA
THE ULTRA Tues: LAZIO v JUVENTUS
THE EDGE IPL Tues: Chennai Super Kings v Lucknow Super Giants
DAQMAN Mon: Pontefract NAP
DAQSTATS Mon: Pontefract NAP
THE ULTRA Mon: Serie A Preview
THE EDGE IPL Mon: Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians
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