It’s a dilemma for the ages: One player comes in with all the momentum; one comes in after a week off to recalibrate his game.
Who has the edge coming into this week’s Valero Texas Open to be played at TPC San Antonio—Matt Kuchar or Rickie Fowler?
Well, this week we’re going to give the edge to the guy who looks on track in a big way: Kuchar at 16-1.
The Kuchar edge is simple. He’s coming off a marathon week at the WGC Match Play in Austin, Texas, where he finished runnerup to Kevin Kisner while Fowler (the favorite this week at 10-1 odds) took this past week off.
Both will be looking to get their game ready for that little tournament next week called The Masters.
But for Kuchar, he played well in Texas this past week as he battled the elements and a star-studded field to keep the needle moving in a positive direction. Now we move down the road just 80 miles and see how much of a toll going the distance (seven matches in five days) has on his game. If he bounces back strong after a day of rest on Monday, he could certainly come out with a victory.
He’s won twice in 10 starts in the wraparound season, has a second last week and a T4 to his credit as well. When you’re hot, you ride that streak as long as possible because we all know those streaks can — and will — cool down.
But a look back to 2014 where he was T4 here gives you all the ammo you may need to pick Kuchar. He had seven top 10s heading into the Valero event that year so he was hot…just like this year.
Fowler was MIA for the second straight year at the match play event and prior to that was struggling in back-to-back events where he was T40 or worse. But he’s got the game where he can take a breather, catch his breath and maybe come back strong. Expect a solid performance this week.
One other major factor comes into play this week. It’s the final event for a player who hasn’t qualified for the Masters to win and get a tee time next week at Augusta. Talk about a little added incentive.
With that in mind, keep an eye on Graeme McDowell, again, at 40-1 (who we liked at 30-1 last week in the Dominican Republic off-field event he won). That 800-pound gorilla you saw in the parking lot was lifted off his shoulders as he won for the first time since 2015.
That victory doesn’t give him a ticket to the Masters, but it does give him a two-year exemption on Tour, freeing up his mind to focus on just his schedule and his game, not whether he will get to tee it up at all in the coming weeks. It was emotional and proves hard work and resilience can certainly pay off.
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