Paul Krishnamurty previews both of this week's events, in search of value bets at 99-1 or better. Check out his trio of picks and thoughts on some alternatives...
"Martin Piller has played this course and event twice, finishing a respectable 23rd on one of his earliest PGA Tour starts back in 2011, and fourth in 2016. This six-time Web.com Tour winner has contended twice in recent months."
Back Martin Piller 2u @ [170.0]
We've seen both extremes of golf betting over the past fortnight. Following a Masters where no 99-1 plus chance finished within five of the lead, one of the shortest priced favourites of the season delivered at the Open D'Espana. In complete contrast, 499-1 chance Satoshi Kodaira produced a massive shock at the Heritage in a play-off against Si Woo Kim, cruelly denying a pair of brilliant tips from Dave Tindall and Steve Rawlings.
Whether or not they ultimately produce anything like the latter result - and there's no shortage of top-class contenders at shortish odds, for sure - I rate both of this week's events as great targets for finding outsiders. Both the Trophee Hassan and Valero Texas Open are generally tough tests, involving higher scores than usual. More often that not that means bunched up leaderboards and a stack of players trading in single figures at some stage.
Follow the best scramblers in Morocco
The last two renewals at Dar Es Salam saw winning totals of just 283, albeit under different par totals, and as Steve Rawlings reports in his tournament preview, the course changes are designed to maintain the reputation for difficulty. Scrambling for par was a key determinant in both renewals and will particularly be so given this year's dry conditions.
There must be some mileage, therefore, in backing the number one scrambler over the past year among this field. Alexander Bjork sneaks into our price range at [100.0] but, for my money, belongs nowhere near it. Consecutive top-20s in Dubai, Oman and Qatar is highly competitive form to bring to the table, notwithstanding last year's excellent rookie campaign.
Fancied to breakthrough with a maiden victory in 2018, both this level and type of challenge look just about the Swede's best chance. Bjork's best results came in tough conditions, when third in the elite Open de France and runner-up at the similarly short, fiddly Hong Kong Open venue. The only negative is failure here 12 months ago but as a rookie debutant, that is easily forgiven.
Scrivener's case is similar in several respects. The Aussie ranks tenth for scrambling and seems generously priced on the basis of his form in the Gulf, where he was sixth in Dubai and top-20 in Qatar. Again, fresh off his maiden title in Australia last winter, it would be no surprise to see Scrivener break through on the European Tour this term.
Furthermore as explained in our each-way column, he has history on this course, sitting second at halfway before finishing tenth on his sole previous visit.
Numerous alternatives came in for consideration, at least momentarily. For example whilst this may not ultimately be Sean Crocker's type of test, you won't go too far wrong regularly following this excellent prospect at [170.0] at this level. Chris Hanson [140.0] has been a good trade for this column in the past and finished top-six in both renewals. Wade Ormsby [130.0] is another Aussie with the right skills-set for a course that doesn't penalise his lack of power off the tee.
Pillar can lead the local challenge in Texas
So far as statistical indicators for San Antonio are concerned, greens in regulation, putting average (both as per usual) and par-five performance are the numbers to follow but perhaps there are superior guides. The fundamental challenge here is coping with the wind and Steve Rawlings notes a couple of interesting course correlations with Waialae and El Camaleon in his comprehensive preview.
Another obvious angle is to back Texans, who have won their home open nine times in 22 years. Dave Tindall has a good found a good one in Abraham Ancer, currently trading at [120.0] on the exchange and I'll add Pillar to the team.
The 32 year-old has played this course and event twice, finishing a respectable 23rd on one of his earliest PGA Tour starts back in 2011, and fourth in 2016. This six-time Web.com Tour winner has contended twice in recent months when finishing third at the CareerBuilder and fourth at the aforementioned El Camaleon. 24th last time out in Houston was perfectly respectable, as is 20th for par-five performance given his outsider status.
In another week with fewer alternatives, Patrick Rodgers would have been picked at [180.0] and he's first reserve in case of any withdrawals. Now 25, this brilliant junior has bags of improvement left to come and is in decent form, finishing seventh at Bay Hill. One other price that caught the eye is [280.0] about Michael Thompson, who gave us a momentary run at [500.0] in Houston. He's another in good form with more ability than his current odds imply.