Valero Texas Open Each-Way Tips: Howell III can thrive at Forest Oaks

American Charles Howell
American Charles Howell can challenge in Texas

It's the final event before the US Masters and after tipping 70/1 Match Play winner Billy Horschel last week, Dave Tindall has three each-way selections for the Valero Texas Open...

"In his last 14 starts in the Lone Star State, the American has banked seven top 10s and a further two top 25s."

Back Charles Howell III E/W @ 67.066/1

Main Bet: Charles Howell III each-way @ 81.080/1


Examining the stats of past winners at the Valero Texas Open shows that long game counts for plenty.

That comes as no surprise when learning that Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia got their heads together to design this testing par 72.

Looking at the numbers shows that Strokes Gained: Off The Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach were the best indicators to success in recent years.

The last time the event was played in 2019, the first two home - Corey Conners and Charley Hoffman - had OTT rankings of 4th and 9th while the top five were all in the top nine for Approach. Conners, the winner, was 1st after picking up a mighty 11.558 shots.

In 2018, winner Andrew Landry and Sean O'Hair (T2) were both in the top 10 Off The Tee, with five of the top seven ranked in the top 10 for Approach.

You get the idea but let's also add in 2017. Champion Kevin Chappell was 4th OTT and 2nd in Approach while Tony Finau (T3) was 3rd and 4th in those same two categories.

Two other angles I like are course form and Texas form.

Four of the last seven winners had posted a top 10 at the course while last year's champ, Conners, had landed a top 10 on his previous Texas start.

I'll start with a punt on Charles Howell III at 66/1.

Let's get the obvious response out of the way. "He never wins though, does he."

Well, 66s is an each-way price and this seems quite a good tournament for those who had previously struggled to get over the line.

The last three victors - Conners, Landry and Kevin Chappell - were all getting their first wins when expected to do so earlier while 2016 champ Hoffman had only managed a single success in the previous six years before his triumph.

Howell does have three wins and the latest was hardly that long ago - just under two-and-half-years ago when he bagged the RSM Classic.

He's played this event just twice but logged a tied eighth on debut.

And he most certainly enjoys playing in Texas. In his last 14 starts in the Lone Star State, the American has banked seven top 10s and a further two top 25s.

This season he ranks 22nd in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee and was 1st for OTT at The Players Championship two starts ago.

While his season-long Approach stats aren't great, he's sharpened up in recent weeks and ranked in the top 25 in that category at both Sawgrass and Bay Hill.

After a poor West Coast by his career standards, he's definitely on the up after following T36 at the Arnold Palmer with an impressive T9 in The Players before T28 at the Corales Puntacana.

Put it altogether and he has some good each-way credentials for a 66/1 shot.

Next Best: Jhonattan Vegas each-way @ 81.080/1

Jhonattan Vegas is also in that infrequent winner category although that's perhaps a little harsh as three PGA Tour victories is overall very impressive.

Perhaps it's perception because more were expected when he captured the Bob Hope Classic on just his fifth PGA Tour start in 2011.

Since then he's won back-to-back Canadian Opens at Glen Abbey in 2016 and 2017 but hasn't taken the eye further in big events as shown by seven missed cuts and no top 30s in 10 major starts since the second of those victories.

But, ahead of this year's Texas Open, he's showing some decent form. Vegas has made his last six cuts, finishing runner-up in the Puerto Rico Open, T30 in the Honda Classic and T18 in last week's Corales Puntacana.

He ranks 10th in SG: Off The Tee this season so has been driving the ball superbly.

Vegas went to the University of Texas and lives in Houston so it appears he has enough going for him to be around 50 to 66/1. Instead, he can be found at 80s.

The reason for that is likely to be less than standout course form. He's missed half of his last six cuts at Forest Oaks and hasn't posted anything better than T30.

However, that T30 came on his last visit in 2019 and Vegas was second after 18 holes and fourth after 54. He was also in the top 20 after each of the first three rounds in 2017 before finishing T34.

In other words, there is some decent form lurking around and here's a nugget from a past interview: "San Antonio was my first PGA Tour event when I turned pro. It means a little more."

Ideally, I'd want to see some better Approach figures but they were positive when last measured (Honda Classic). And if he hits the ball as well off the tee as he has been, Vegas can make his mark.

Final Bet: Sam Ryder each-way @ 81.080/1

For a final pick, I'll go for the very in-form Sam Ryder, again at 80s.

The 31-year-old from Florida as T8 at The Honda Classic and T2 in last week's Corales Puntacana.

Those performances suggest he likes a hard test as he was only -5 at the Honda and -11 at Corales.

Rewind a little further and Ryder was also T10 at another challenging course, Torrey Pines South. He achieved that with -7.

Scoring is usually tough at Forest Oaks - six of the last nine were won with -12 or higher - so it's a track he can do well on.

The actual evidence shows T36 and T42 in the last two editions. However, as with Vegas, there's more to it than that when looking at round-by-round scores.

Ryder fired a Friday 66 in 2019 to sit 20th with 18 to play while he was in the top 25 after 54 holes in 2018 when firing 68.

As for other Texas form, he was fifth at the 2018 Houston Open and T10 at halfway in the same event 12 months later.

Finally, a look at the relevant stats and he ranked 10th for Approach at the Honda Classic, gaining over five strokes. He's 38th on the season-long stats.

Driving? He hit it well at Torrey Pines (12th OTT) and PGA National (27th) while checking the more traditional stats shows he was 11th for Total Driving at the Corales Puntacana.

Talking at the Honda, he said: "It's been nice to work with my coach some, Adam, in the off season and I had some good weeks to build on.

"Even though I missed the cut in Hawaii I saw some signs that gave me a lot. And then I was leading for a minute in Palm Springs and then had a top 10 at Torrey Pines.

"When one little aspect of your game is being stressed, everything else gets stressed a little bit harder, so it's really just about kind of getting back to all the things that I've done when I played well and building on that and not trying to do anything different or crazy right now."

Backing up a top 10 at PGA National with second place last week will have boosted his confidence further and some low scores in the past at Forest Oaks suggest he can keep it going this week.

Dave's 2020/2021 P/L

Staked: £750.00
Returned: £1052.12
P/L: +£302.12

2019/2020 P/L: +£13.83
2018/2019 P/L: -£338.25
2017/2018 P/L: +£362.84
2016/2017 P/L: +£1179.89

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