2023 Valero Texas Open Picks, Odds: Cam Davis, Ben Martin, More Bets
Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Davis.
- The final stop before Augusta National is the 2023 Valero Texas Open.
- Jason Sobel has identified his betting targets for this week at TPC San Antonio.
- Check out his full tournament preview and betting picks below.
Click arrow to expand Valero Texas Open odds via bet365
|Si Woo Kim||+2000|
|Erik van Rooyen||+8000|
|Paul Haley II||+30000|
|Davis Love III||+250000|
We are only one week away from the Masters Tournament, which means just a single golden ticket to Augusta National remains, as players descend upon the Valero Texas Open in hopes of cashing in.
Sure, there are some Masters invitees competing this week – most notably Tyrrell Hatton, Corey Conners, Si Woo Kim and Hideki Matsuyama – but the real intrigue involves attempting to claim an (almost literal) 11th hour exemption into the year’s first major championship.
The most memorable recent story of this dream-come-true was that of Conners, who Monday qualified in San Antonio four years ago and was on-site in Augusta the very next Monday. Many of the headlines this week will swirl around Rickie Fowler, who owns either the second- or third-shortest odds in hopes of returning to the Masters for the first time since 2020, but there are dozens of great stories which could have a happy ending with a victory this week.
Full disclosure: I’ve interrupted my regularly scheduled Masters preview content writing, which is already in full swing, so I’m going to keep this week’s edition of the betting guide a little shorter and (hopefully) sweeter than usual.
There is, though, one potentially piece of valuable data – or maybe confounding data – that I wanted to share for this week.
Two years ago, the final leaderboard on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio included six players in the top 10 who were also top 10 in strokes gained on approach shots, which fits the weekly narrative to which we so often ascribe – essentially, if you hit your irons really well, you’ve got a chance to win.
Last year, however, when J.J. Spaun triumphed with a winning total of 13-under, just one of those players in the final top 10 was also top 10 with his irons, and a whopping six of those contending players were outside the top 30.
What does all of this tell us? Great iron play is always more advantageous than poor iron play (no kidding), but there’s no singular way to win the Valero.
Let’s get to the picks, starting with a player who’s hoping to claim that final golden ticket to get another trip down Magnolia Lane next week.
Outright Winner (Short Odds)
One player to win the tournament.
Cam Davis +4400
After a promising 2022 campaign, I was very bullish on Davis entering this year – as were many others. And then… it all seemingly fell apart. The Aussie started the year innocuously enough, finishing T32 at the Sony Open, then he proceeded to miss the cut in five consecutive starts. For comparison’s sake, he MC’d in just seven events last season.
From an outsider’s perspective, it appeared maybe he’d just lost his mojo, but a few weeks ago at The Players, he explained that he’d been ill during the first few months of the year and had taken a while to recover. “I’ve been unwell for the first couple months of the year,” he said. “Haven’t really been able to practice much. I let a few things get to me. Also, we’re playing such tough courses out here, like Riviera, Bay Hill – they’re always setups that you need to be really on.”
Davis finished in a share of sixth place that week at TPC Sawgrass and followed with a 2-1-0 record in last week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, posting 11 birdies in his final two matches, victories against Tom Hoge and Aaron Wise. Consequently, I’m bullish on Davis once again, as he remains a terrific value at this number against a somewhat deflated field this week.
Pick: Cam Davis +4400
Outright Winner (Long odds)
One player to win the tournament
Ben Martin (+10000)
He doesn’t get into the bigger events, and he doesn’t garner much public acclaim, but all Martin does is play solid golf whenever he gets an opportunity.
In his last five starts, he hasn’t missed a cut and has posted three top-13 finishes. Meanwhile, his approach numbers have been on the positive side in seven of his last eight. And while he’s never posted great results at the Valero, he’s made the cut in four of five starts, suggesting value not only for outright plays but props and DFS as well.
Besides, for as much as Fowler or so many others would be a worthy story as the final Masters invitee, Martin’s inclusion exactly one year after his emotional reaction to a runner-up finish in Puntacana would be some serious poetic justice.
Pick: Ben Martin Outright
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Si Woo Kim (+2200) and Matt Kuchar (+3500)
I’m listing these two together because I believe they’ll be among the most popular selections in OADs this week, considering their collective strong course history. Kim owns four top-25 finishes in his last five starts here, while Kuchar’s 17 appearances include eight top 25s, four top 10s and a share of runner-up honors last year.
Of course, as I often write, there are strategic decisions to these pools. If you’re in a comfortable position and don’t mind a pick with some higher ownership, either of these guys should suffice. If you’re trying to play catch-up, though, it might be wise to explore other options.
Davis Riley (+3000)
I was this close to making Riley my favorite outright play of the week. While he didn’t struggle to the same extent as Davis, he did open the year with a T65 and three MCs. Moving away from the West Coast Swing and employing a new caddie in James Edmondson has all helped, as he’s posted four top 30s in his last five starts, including a T8 at Bay Hill. I’ll likely still have an outright sprinkle, but I think he makes sense as an OAD option, as well.
Ryan Fox (+4000)
The wind almost always blows during this week in San Antonio, and it’s once again projected to average in the double-digits with some rain during the four tournament days, so I’ll have some players who fared well in tough conditions at either the Honda Classic or Arnold Palmer Invitational on my list this week.
That includes Fox, who’s never been scared of a little breeze. Since coming over to the U.S., he’s been T14 at the API, T27 at The Players and advanced out of the group stage at the Match Play last week. As a bonus, he’s a top-40 player in the world whom you might legitimately not want to use anywhere else, so that could help the decision-making process.
Kramer Hickok (+13000)
Call this one more of a hunchy, contrarian idea, as Hickok has been making some cuts (five in a row) but not exactly climbing leaderboards on the weekend. A former roommate of Jordan Spieth and fellow University of Texas product, Hickok has been putting better than he’s been ball-striking, but a T14 at the Honda in similarly breezy conditions has my interest piqued, at least a little bit.
One player to finish in the top five
Thomas Detry (+1100 for top five)
For the last five years, Detry has been what they’d call a nearly-man over on the DP World Tour, compiling nine top-three finishes without a victory. On this side of the pond, where he’s already picked up another top-three in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, we’d call this something of a Cameron Young copycat.
While the general public often sees numerous close calls as some sort of sign that a player can’t get it done when it matters most, I can tell you without question that players view these in a more positive light, from the money and points that come with such results to the experience of being in the heat of the battle. In any case, Detry came close again last week, with a T8 finish in Puntacana and should continue knocking on that door this week.
One player to finish in the top 10
Rickie Fowler (+300 for top 10)
I know, it probably doesn’t help much to list a player with some of the shortest odds in the field as “only” a top-10 play this week. It also probably doesn’t help Rickie Nation to know that I think he’ll come close to punching that golden ticket for Augusta without getting it this week.
But the facts are the facts: With finishes between 10th and 31st in each of his last half-dozen starts, Fowler is playing this week’s event for one reason only. Expect him to play aggressively and expect that aggressive strategy to pay off at times and, yes, hurt him at times. I think he’ll be in the mix for much of this tournament, keeping those storylines alive, but I’ll back off the outright play at a short price and – unlike Rickie – play it a little more conservatively this week.
One player to finish in the top 20
Brandon Wu (+333 for top 20)
As a PGA Tour rookie last season, Wu missed the cut in 10 of his first 11 starts before finding his stride and posting a pair of top-threes among his next four. That helped him keep his card, and he’s been more consistent this season, especially recently, with three top-20 results in his last six starts. He should make for a nice DFS play this week, as well.
One player to finish in the top 30
Ben Griffin (+130 for top 30)
I had the opportunity to interview Griffin multiple times during The Players for SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, and I really enjoyed helping tell his story – from out of professional golf and working as a loan officer two years ago to contending for the title at TPC Sawgrass for a few days.
He wound up finishing T35 that week, but he’s largely been a top-30 machine this season, with seven top-30s in 16 starts, along with four other close calls between 31st and 35th. He’s another player with a strong Honda/API correlation, as he finished 21st-14th in those two.
One player to finish in the top 40
A few weeks ago, I listed Hammer in this very section for the Valspar Championship, but an opening-round 76 led to a missed cut. I’m going back to him here, though.
As I wrote previously, the talented young pro is essentially in career limbo right now, with only conditional status on the KFT and taking as many sponsor exemptions he can in the big leagues. That might come with some additional pressure, but he also knows he needs to step on the gas pedal soon.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
I mentioned Kim and Kuchar in the OAD section as “safe” selections this week, but Conners might be the safest of the bunch. He’s the best ball-striker in this field – as he is anytime the likes of Collin Morikawa or Will Zalatoris or Justin Thomas aren’t playing – and his track record is solid at TPC San Antonio.
In addition to that aforementioned victory in 2019, he was T26 the previous year and has been T14 and T35 the last two years. On a week when there are plenty of lower-priced names to plug into your lineups, it’ll be easy enough to find room for a high-salary guy, and Conners is easily my preference over Hatton or Matsuyama.
A medium-priced option for DFS lineups
Byeong Hun An
I don’t often differentiate in this section between GPPs and cash games (though maybe I should more frequently), but An probably makes for a better cash game play this week. What I mean by this is that based on recent appearances, his ceiling hasn’t been very high, but his floor is decent.
Excluding a WD at the API, he’s made the cut in seven consecutive starts, but only one of those is a top-20 finish – and that was the Sony Open, nearly three months ago. Even so, in contests where getting 6/6 is the utmost priority, he should help the cause.
A lower-priced option for DFS lineups
If An is a cash-game play, then Lingmerth is all GPP. He’s been all-or-nothing this season, with just eight made cuts in 15 starts, but four of those made cuts have been top 10s. There’s reason to believe the former Memorial Tournament winner has found his groove yet again. Based on that high variance, I’ll likely have a crack at 100/1 outright this week, but I really love him as a DFS tournament play.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Akshay Bhatia (+8000 for FRL)
We already knew the kid could go low, but he proved it once again last week, playing his first 10 holes of the second round of the Corales Puntacana Championship in 8-under – with a bogey! – and eventually shooting 63.
It wouldn’t surprise me if he wins somewhere this season – and his opening price of 150/1 is near-impossible to pass up – though I’m still a little more intrigued by single-round investments, such as DFS showdown slates or FRL wagers. He’s posted sub-70 scores in 13 out of 22 rounds so far this season.
One player who should beat comparable players.
Alex Smalley (+7500)
Another young player who’s established himself as a high-upside floor option, Smalley is the type we like to target for matchups, as he doesn’t miss many cuts, having reached the weekend in 11 of 15 starts so far this season.
While I do think the outright price is wayyy too short for a player who hasn’t finished better than 22nd since the calendar turned over nearly three months ago, I do like him for H2H plays against similarly priced players such as Sepp Straka and Luke List.
Also Receiving Votes
Other players who should provide value
J.J. Spaun (+3500), Andrew Putnam (+5500), Taylor Pendrith (+5000), Ryan Palmer (+8000), Beau Hossler (+6000), Francesco Molinari (+7000), Doug Ghim (+13000), Vincent Norrman (+18000), Doc Redman (+25000)
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