Valero Texas Open: Abraham could be R1 leader Ancer

Mexico's Abraham Ancer
Mexico's Abraham Ancer can start fast

Dave Tindall makes a case for a trio of players to go well in round one of this week's PGA Tour event...

"T3rd at halfway in the Players Championship in his last strokeplay start, afternoon starter Ancer (12:20) looks well worth a play."

Back Abraham Ancer each-way @ 60/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast for San Antonio, Texas: Temperatures are pleasant at around 70 degrees at 9am but rise to the mid-80s in the afternoon. Winds looks fairly consistent at around 6-8mph.

First-round leader history:
2018 - 67 Grayson Murray (a.m.)
2017 - 66 Branden Grace (a.m.)
2016 - 64 Brendan Steele (p.m.)
2015 - 67 Charley Hoffman (p.m.)
2014 - 67 Andrew Loupe (p.m.)

Strategy: The morning wave has provided the R1 leader for the last two editions but for the four years previous it was an afternoon starter so there is mixed evidence. It's certainly not just a case of presuming that the wind always gets up in the afternoon in Texas and therefore the early players will always have an advantage. I'm happy to take weather out of the equation and make my picks on other criteria.

Abraham can provide afternoon Ancer

Abraham Ancer looked too short to back in the outright market but there's a window here given his industry-high odds of 60/1 for FRL.

The Mexican lives in Texas and has made all six cuts in the Lone Star State, including both starts in this event.

A T8 at last year's Houston Open is his best while in this market he opened with 65 at the 2018 Byron Nelson to sit in the top four after 18 holes.

Two starts after that he was the R1 leader at Memorial and he's finished day one in the top five on six occasions since then.

T3rd at halfway in the Players Championship in his last strokeplay start, afternoon starter Ancer (12:20) looks well worth a play at 60/1.

Side with Stallings

Scott Stallings has been getting off to some good starts lately, finishing the first lap in the top 11 (T11, T8 and T9) in three of his last events.

In two of those he went on to finish third at Pebble Beach and T9 at The Valspar Championship so they're indicative of some impressive golf.

He's certainly not a player who turns it on every week or indeed every month so we have to take that on board but at 95/1 he's a gamble worth taking.

Stallings was tied 13th in this event in 2016 (he's only played it once since) when closing with a 67 and also T11 in 2011 so he has a bit of decent course form in his five visits.

Ranked eighth for greens in regulation when T9 at the Valspar two weeks ago, he can go well from his 08:30 tee-time.

Turn Turn Turn to Byrd

I'll also take a punt with my final pick and go with Jonathan Byrd, an 08:20 starter.

The 41-year-old banked the last of his five PGA Tour titles back in 2011 but he's been making leaderboards in recent months.

In his last two events - Corales Puntacana and Puerto Rico - Byrd has ended six of the eight rounds inside the top 10, eventually finishing tied fourth in the former last week.

Add in T22 at Pebble prior to that and he's cracked the top 25 in his last three PGA Tour events.

On current form he's certainly no 95/1 shot in this market so the reason is probably two MCs here (2013 and 2018).

You can't have everything at that price but there is some more good news when looking at his Texas form and noting that he was in the top four after round one at last year's Byron Nelson.

Overall, he's finished the opening 18 holes inside the top five in five of his last 27 starts and that's a decent strike-rate.

Staked: £390
Returned: £362
P/L: -£28

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