Valero Texas Open betting guide: 6 picks our gambling expert loves

Hideki Matsuyama hits drive at 3M Open

Hideki Matsuyama has been playing well entering this week.

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Welcome to our weekly PGA Tour gambling-tips column, featuring picks from’s expert prognosticator Brady Kannon. A seasoned golf bettor and commentator, Kannon is a regular guest on SportsGrid, a syndicated audio network devoted to sports and sport betting. You can follow on Twitter at @LasVegasGolfer, and you can read his picks below for the Valero Texas Open, which gets underway Thursday in San Antonio. Along with Kannon’s recommended plays, you’ll also see data from Chirp, a free-to-play mobile platform that features a range of games with enticing prizes, giving fans all kinds of ways to engage in the action without risking any money.

I’ve always thought one of the greatest taglines in golf broadcasting was “Glory’s Last Shot,” a term used to describe the PGA Championship when it was positioned on the calendar as the final major of the season. The Valero Texas Open feels like a bit of a mini-version of such, as this is the last chance for the majority of this field to get an invitation to next week’s Masters. Players not yet qualified will either have to find their way into the top 50 in the OWGR after this week or simply win in order to become a part of next week’s field in Georgia.

I do believe there is a psychological element to this week’s breakdown. Who is at the Valero Texas Open simply for a tune-up before the Masters? Or for those not already qualified, will the pressure of trying to get in be too much, or will that motivation spur some excellent results? Or will some players be void of any pressure, knowing they are already in next week’s field, and that translates into playing wonderfully, relaxed, care-free golf and have that lead to excellent results?

There are endless scenarios. We can do our best to guess but of course, these hunches are not quantifiable. I’ve looked at the stats like I always have, but there are the “intangibles” I’ve implemented to some degree this week as well.

TPC San Antonio is a par 72 measuring over 7,400 yards. Designed by Greg Norman, one would expect that driving the golf ball will be of the utmost importance, given that Norman was one of the best to ever do it. It is part of the equation for sure, but most of the past winners we’ve seen here rely more on accuracy off the tee over distance. Ball-striking, approach play, greens in regulation and scrambling are key areas this week. The four par-5s at TPC San Antonio are some of the most difficult these players face all season, so I looked at Strokes Gained: par-5s as well.

Other golf courses we see regularly that feature similar layouts and/or demand similar skill sets to TPC San Antonio are TPC Summerlin, St. George’s Golf & Country Club, Glen Abbey, Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Pebble Beach Golf Links, TPC Craig Ranch, Colonial Country Club and La Quinta Country Club.

I’ve landed on six players to win the Valero Texas Open and I’ve also played each to finish top 20. Three of my selections are already qualified for the Masters and three are trying to find their way in, with this being their last shot to do so.

Ludvig Aberg (13-1)

The young PGA Tour star has played this course many times during his years at Texas Tech and was actually a special invite into the field in 2022. Aberg checks all of the boxes we are looking for this week: off the tee, greens in regulation, avoiding bogeys and scoring on par-5s. He also ranks 25th in this field for SG: putting (bermudagrass). I believe his ties to this golf course and this event will have him focused on performing at a high level despite what lies ahead — making his debut at the Masters next week. Having been a part of a winning Ryder Cup team this past fall also helps temper the enormity of next week for Aberg.

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Hideki Matsuyama (23-1)

Matsuyama won the Masters in 2021 after finishing 30th at this event the week prior. He took 15th here last year. This tells me he is not simply using this as a tune-up but is here to compete. He’s had an excellent start to the season, finishing 1st, 12th and 6th in his last three starts. Matsuyama also ranks No. 1 in this field for SG: tee to green over the last 12 rounds.

Corey Conners (30-1)

It is not often I land on the defending champion, but I could not ignore the numbers nor the situation for Conners. First of all, he is not only the defending champion but has won twice here leading up to the Masters – and has multiple top-10 finishes at Augusta – so history tells me that next week does not hinder Conners’ approach to this week. He’s accurate off the tee and is No. 1 in this field for greens in regulation over the last 36 rounds, as well as second for SG: approach and 18th on the par-5s.

Alex Noren (38-1)

Now we enter into those players who are not yet qualified for a trip down Magnolia Lane. Noren is 66th in the OWGR, so he is knocking on the door of the top 50. He’s finished 9th, 19th and 11th in his last three starts. We know he has an excellent short game but over the last 36 rounds has excelled in other areas too: third in this field for good drives gained, third for greens in regulation, ninth in scrambling, sixth on the par-5s and No. 1 in the field for bogey avoidance. If all of that holds up this week, he just might find himself booking a trip to Georgia.

Billy Horschel (42-1)

I was on both Noren and Horschel last week and they both cashed top-20 finishes. I’m going back to both of them this week based on similar reasoning. Horschel too is displaying excellent current form, finishing top 12 in three of his last four starts. He has an excellent track record in the state of Texas and, at 87th in the OWGR, will need a big week in order to avoid missing the Masters for the first time since 2017. Being a veteran whose game is really firing right now, I believe that will allow him to successfully handle the pressure and perform at a high level. Billy’s been there and done that many times, so I expect a solid result from him in San Antonio — if not a win.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout (51-1)

The South African has played the Masters in three of the last four years, so what he is facing is different versus if he was trying to get there for the first time. Bezuidenhout is 58th in the OWGR, so he is awfully close to getting into the field. He’s finished 13th and 9th in his last two starts and was runner-up to begin the season at the American Express, where La Quinta CC is one of our correlated courses. Over the last 36 rounds, Bezuidenhout is seventh in this field for SG: approach, sixth in scrambling and 10th in SG: putting (bermudagrass). He’s been to Augusta in the past and I believe he is playing well enough to find a way to get there for a fourth time.

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