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It’s time for one of the best sporting events anywhere as PGA Tour players get set to tee it up at the Masters.

Oops, sorry, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves in looking ahead to this year’s stop at Augusta National. That’s next week.

Right now, let’s take a look at this week’s Tour stop, the Valero Texas Open, before all eyes in the sports world turn to Augusta and the first major of the season.

Before we talk about Amen Corner, the stunning array of azaleas and the world-famous pimento cheese sandwiches, how about if we check out who might want to go into Augusta off a victory this week.

While the Valero Texas Open is easy to overlook as it’s right between last week’s Match Play and the Masters, it shouldn’t be. After all, there’s a $1.5 million paycheck waiting for the winner as well as 500 FedEx Cup points.

Oh, and more importantly in most instances, the winner will also earn a spot in the field at Augusta (if he’s not already qualified.)

We’re looking squarely at you Rickie Fowler, but more on that in a minute.

This week’s course, the par-72, 7,622-yard layout, The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio, will give players an early glimpse at next week’s event as the grounds crew does their best to replicate some of the course conditions players will find at Augusta National.

So while it won’t be a field full of superstar players, more than a few of those high up in the rankings will be on hand for a tournament preview.

Let’s see who will use this tuneup to their advantage and pocket that first-place paycheck.

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Odds to Win Valero Texas Open

Tyrrell Hatton
Rickie Fowler+1600
Corey Conners+1800
Si Woo Kim+2000
Hideki Matsuyama+2200
Taylor Montgomery+2500
Matt Kuchar+2500
Chris Kirk+2500
Davis Riley+2800
Nicolai Hojgaard+3500
J.J. Spaun+3500
Alex Noren+3500
Ryan Fox+4000
Matt Wallace+4000
Cam Davis+4000
Brendon Todd+4000
Ben Griffin+4000
Christiaan Bezuidenhout+4500
Thomas Detry+5000
Davis Thompson+5000
Adam Schenk+5000
Taylor Pendrith+5500
Nick Taylor+5500
Aaron Rai+5500

As always, shop around the sports betting industry for the best odds on your plays. 

Pressure’s on Rickie Fowler to Win

We’re going to say it’s time for Rickie Fowler to get back in the winner’s circle…finally.

It’s hard to believe it’s been since 2019 since Fowler won on the PGA Tour when he hoisted the trophy at the WM Phoenix Open. Well, at +1600 this week and the second choice, he’s got good enough odds for us to take a hard look.

He’s changed and worked on just about every aspect of his game–both on and off the course–except his wardrobe and it’s starting to pay off.

Rickie Fowler hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2019. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Sure, he still hasn’t won but he’s slowly climbing up leaderboards, and we like the positive attitude he’s been displaying.

He took down Jon Rahm head-to-head last week in the first session of the Match Play event last week, so there’s no reason to believe he’s not gaining confidence in his game every time he tees it up.

Add in the fact he’s got to win this week to play in next week’s Masters, and there’s no greater motivation needed as he hasn’t played at Augusta (in the tournament, anyway), since 2020 when it was held in November.

We’d certainly like to see him driving down Magnolia Drive next week.

Time for Another Repeat Winner?

We’ve seen this show a few times. A guy wins a tournament, we lose track of him for the next year and, gasp, he shows up the following year as the champion and then goes on to defend his title.

That’s the perfect scenario we’re seeing this week for J.J. Spaun at +3500.

As the defending champ, he’s got to feel good when he steps to the first tee. The one drawback we have with this pick is he’s had a roller-coaster ride since the calendar hit 2023.

Well, actually, it’s more like a bungee jump. He started off high with a T-5 in the calendar year’s first event, the Sentry Tournament of Champions, and then followed that up with a T-12 the following week at the Sony Open.

Then came the leap off the ledge as he missed four of his next five cuts (the only cut he made he was T-33 at the Genesis Invitational).

But, and here comes the good part, he hit the end of the cord and snapped back up to safely land at the WGC Match Play event last week where he had a solid showing.

How solid? He won all three of his round-robin matches and made it to the final 16 in the 64-man field, finishing in the T-9 spot with seven other players losing Saturday morning.

That’s got to be a positive sign for him heading to an event where he posted his first–and only, so far–PGA Tour victory.

Around the Prop Scene

Sometimes you just want to take a flier on one of those bets you have no business making.

This is one of those bets. We’re going to go with 42-year-old Ricky Barnes to come up with a top-20 finish at +900.

Now +900 is good for any bet, but for a golfer ranked 934th in the world rankings, it’s kind of dicey. But we like the fact he’s still out there working at his craft.

He’s coming off two impressive outings—even though they were in off-field events—as he finished T-33 in the Puerto Rico Open and T-7 last week in the Corales Puntacana Championship.

Not exactly star-studded events, but the fact his game not only survived the cut but finished strong in both events signals his confidence is there.

One other bet we’re going to look at is that the winner won’t come from the final group on Sunday at +175. Unless someone has a huge lead (like the last time we made this bet), a player in an earlier group can put up an impressive round and then have everyone try to catch him.

If they don’t, it’s a win for him as well as a winning ticket for us.

Also read: Five Bets to Make (or not) on 2023 Majors | Longshots who can win Majors in 2023 | McIlroy, Rahm Lead Odds to Win 2023 Major

About the Author
Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 45 years of experience in the sports-writing industry. He's spent the past 20-plus years covering the golf scene, including 10 years as a writer and editor with VegasGolfer Magazine. Bowman also contributes to the GolfNow Network of websites and Las Vegas Golf Insider.

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