Grip it and rip it will be the mantra of PGA Tour players this week at the Valero Texas Open. At 7,435 yards, the course at TPC San Antonio is one of the longest on tour, so those who can crush their drives should have an advantage. Just don’t tell that to Sergio Garcia.
Garcia is the favorite at 14/1, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. That’s not a big surprise since he is the only one in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings playing in the event.
But the Spaniard isn’t exactly a big hitter — he’s tied for 52nd in driving distance at 299.4 yards — and he’s fresh off his forgettable title defense at the Masters, where he missed the cut and tied a record for the highest score on a hole with his 13 at No. 15.
Going the Distance
Garcia says he’s relieved to be back in his new home of Texas. Not only does he have three career victories here, but also he’s particularly fond of TPC San Antonio course conditions, which typically include a steady diet of whipping winds.
“I think I’ve always enjoyed playing in the wind,” Garcia said to PGATour.com. “It’s usually windy here in Texas, so I’ve always felt quite comfortable in this state. I’ve been fortunate to do fairly well throughout my career in Texas.”
Garcia’s wife is from Texas, and with a newborn daughter, he seems happy to make it his home. “I guess now I feel like even more of a Texan than before,” he said.
Despite his enthusiasm about his homecoming, Garcia’s lack of length off the tee could be what keeps the favorite from winning.
The second pick by sportsbooks is Matt Kuchar at 18/1, who probably shouldn’t be that high on the board. He’s tied for 161st in driving distance, at 288.3 yards, and finished tied for 40th at Valero last year.
Three of last year’s top four finishers were all in the top 20 for driving distance, so focusing on lesser known names who hit the ball a long way might be the better betting strategy.
Someone like Luke List. The 33-year-old may be winless so far on the PGA Tour, but he’s heavy off the tee and has turned in some impressive performances this season against tough competition — including a second place finish at the Honda Classic in February and a tie for third last week at the RBC Heritage.
List ranks fourth in driving distance and is 16th in scoring average. At 22/1 he’s definitely worth a look.
Another big hitter with good odds is Charley Hoffman at 20/1. The four-time PGA Tour winner tied for 12th at the Masters and could be seeing his game starting to blossom. He won this tournament in 2016 and tied for 40th last year.
Defending champion Kevin Chappell is at 27/1. He’s 19th in driving distance, and has three top 10 finishes this year. But he did miss the cut in his last two events, The Masters and the RBC Heritage. We know he can get the ball down the course, but whether or not he can keep on the fairway may just depend on which way the wind blows.