Valero Texas Open: Moore can be mighty Oak

American Ryan Moore
Ryan Moore can thrive in Texas

The PGA Tour's final pre-Masters stop is the Valero Texas Open and Dave Tindall has three each-way picks for the action in the Lone Star State...

"He was T8 when first playing the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio in 2012 and, after a five-year break, has found it just as suitable in the last two editions with T18 in 2017 and T7 last time."

Moore can manoeuvre his way into Masters field

Main Bet: Back Ryan Moore each-way @ 40/1

I have to admit that this a tricky tournament to call.

It produces a mish-mash of different winners and the move back to it being played before the Masters (last happened in 2013) adds another layer of difficulty with reports that the fairways have been widened and the rough shorter than normal in a what could be a slightly dubious attempt to mimic Augusta National.

I'm therefore looking to cling on to some reliability and Ryan Moore appears to offer just that.

He was T8 when first playing the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio in 2012 and, after a five-year break, has found it just as suitable in the last two editions with T18 in 2017 and T7 last time.

Viewing his stats, he's also taken a similar path to those top 20 finishes, ranking in the top 10 for Greens in regulation in all three visits.

His ball-striking numbers have been stronger the last two times which is encouraging and he's been hitting it nicely in recent starts so has a good chance of replicating them.

A missed cut at the Valspar doesn't look ideal but he failed by a shot and before that made the top 20 in the Players Championship at Sawgrass, firing in the 60s in all but one round.

That included a hole-in-one on day two and, speaking afterwards, Moore revealed: "Hit a lot of good shots and obviously the highlight was the ace on 17, but overall it was just a really good round of golf and kind of felt like I've been close lately so it was nice to kind of made some putts that I hadn't been making."

As for what's needed here, Moore said in 2018: "The greens are pretty small. In the wind like this you're not going to hit every single green. I made some great improvements this year in my short game. Working with a new coach, Drew Steckle, and it's felt very, very comfortable. Around a golf course like that, it matters a lot."

Moore's short-game figures have picked up in recent months so that's another good sign.

The final 'X' factor is that he's not in the Masters field yet.

That extra incentive worked wonders for Ian Poulter when he won the Shell Houston Open the week before last year's Masters so perhaps Moore will have some extra drive to make it to Augusta, a tournament he's missed just once in the last nine years.

Next Best: Back Matt Jones each-way @ 80/1

It's a Greg Norman-design this week and two Aussies have triumphed since it was first used in 2010.

Adam Scott took the title nine years ago and Steven Bowditch popped up produce a surprise win in 2014.

An Aussie with a Texas residence will know all about playing in wind and one who fits the bill is Matt Jones.

Ah, yes, that Matt Jones. The one I put up last week and watched take a 9 on his opening hole of round two having had a piece of the first-round lead!

Jones recovered well from that shock to the system and after drifting out of contention on Saturday he closed with 67 to post T18.

That was his second straight top 20 after T13 in the Valspar Championship while he also took T13 at the Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines

He was also T12 with a round to go at the Honda Classic before slipping so Matt has done a decent job of keeping up with the Jones' on some tough courses this year.

The Australian was actually the halfway leader here in 2010 before taking T22 while more recently, he's finished T26 (2015) and T13 (2017) so it's definitely a course where he can score well.

Although there was a sense of disappointment about last week, it was still another top 20 in the books so I'm surprised to see him drift back to 80/1.

It's ifs, buts and maybes but a par on his disaster hole and Jones is in the top four.

"Physically, I'm great. My body's probably never felt better than it does right now. Always had niggling injuries," he said after his opening 66.

"But I would say my game's very close to something good happening, has been that way for a long time. I finally got my putter working, which has been probably my struggles for the last three years, why I've struggled. If I putt well, I'll have no issues the rest of the year."

Hopefully that feeling of being close remains and he puts the words into action this week.

Final Bet: Back Vaughn Taylor each-way @ 125/1

Looking at last year's preview, I tipped Abraham Ancer at 125/1.

I'd liked to have put him up this week but the improving Texas-based Mexican is just 33/1 this time.

At the very front of the market, Rickie Fowler has won the week before a major in the past so that shouldn't be a big worry. The 10/1 is hardly compelling though.

Good guy gone bad Matt Kuchar is bound to be feeling tired after playing all seven rounds at the WGC Match Play and as much as I like Tony Finau he's won just once ever, hasn't managed a top 10 this year and yet is 16/1.

Hao Tong Li is interesting at 40s but I'm going to roll the dice and pick Vaughn Taylor at a hefty 150s as my final selection.

The former Ryder Cup star - yes, really - is a three-time winner on the European Tour and the last one came relatively recently at Pebble Beach in 2016.

The 43-year-old is still capable and so far in 2019 he's got two top tens (two more than Finau then) at the Desert Classic (T7) and Genesis Open (T9).

Taylor also recovered from a 74 to take tied 18th at the Valspar Championship a couple of weeks ago.

What really gets me on board are his underlying numbers.

Over the last 24 rounds he's 12th in the field for Strokes Gained Total, fourth for SG: Short Game and 1st for SG: Putting.

The weakness is SG: Off The Tee but the more generous fairways and lighter rough could help that.

Taylor was tied 16th here last year and, in his current good nick, could be poised to take a small jump and make the top eight pay-out places this time.

Dave's 2018/19 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £570
Returned: £417
P/L: -£187

2017/2018:
P/L: +£362.84

2016/2017:
P/L: +£1179.89

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