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Sobel’s Valero Texas Open Betting Preview: All In on Im Headed to Augusta


RSM Classic. Pictured: Sungjae Im

  • Rickie Fowler (+1000) is the betting favorite to win the 2019 Valero Texas Open with Tony Finau (+1400) and Matt Kuchar (+1600) close behind.
  • With the 2019 Masters next week, Jason Sobel is looking to fade the favorites who may be looking ahead to Augusta.

Poor Valero Texas Open.

The oft-forgotten tournament smack dab in a sea of bigger ones was moved on the schedule this year to the week before the Masters – and already the biggest talking points are how potential contenders fare in a final tune-up before the year’s first major and whether one final nonqualified player will get to punch his ticket to Augusta.

Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau probably just need to tighten a few small things before next week. Jordan Spieth? He might still be digging for secrets in the dirt.

Besides the 15 names in this week’s field who are in next week’s tournament are 129 other players vying for an opportunity to claim golf’s version of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.

And we’ve got plenty of options, too.

After a second-place finish at The Players Championship, Jim Furyk could only move from 54th in the world to 52nd at the WGC-Dell Match Play, falling just short of qualifying.

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Sungjae Im is one of the better rookies we’ve seen in years, already with five results of seventh-or-better this year. One playing partner last week said he’ll be a top-10 player by year’s end.

Lucas Glover and Jason Kokrak might not be at a Justin Rose-level of consistency – or even Charles Howell III – but they’ve each been posting strong results on a weekly basis.

Ryan Palmer, Ryan Moore and Daniel Berger are guys who have claimed top-10 results at Augusta previously.

Luke List, Abraham Ancer and Joaquin Niemann could each be a dark-horse top-20 selection if he makes it – much like Russell Henley, when he grabbed the last spot and finished T-11 two years ago.

Oh, and for that matter, let’s throw Henley himself into that mix, too.

If any of the 129 nonqualified players wins this week, it’ll be a great story, as he claims a trophy, then gets whisked away to Augusta for a whirlwind trip to the year’s first major.

As the Valero Texas Open prepares for its new spot in the schedule, that’s definitely one of the greatest underlying plotlines.


Nope. Not happening. Nuh-uh.

I’m skipping right past this week’s biggest names for the sole reason that they’re all – in some respect – already looking ahead. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to play solid golf, but would you really want to emit the physical and mental energy necessary to win just days before playing the one tourney all year which requires the most physical and mental energy?

It’s not quite akin to the Par-3 jinx, but I’m still not sure any of the favorites is too keen on winning right before the Masters begins.


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