Valero Texas Open: Piercy can strike at TPC San Antonio

American Scott Piercy
Scott Piercy has progressive form figures heading to Texas
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After his near miss with 100/1 Si Woo Kim at the RBC Heritage last week, Dave Tindall previews the PGA Tour's Valero Texas Open and picks out his three best bets...

"The American is coming into form after tied 24th in Houston and tied 16th at the RBC Heritage on his last two starts and he was ranked in the top six for greens in regulation in both events.."

Main Bet: Back Scott Piercy e.w. @ 60/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 7 places

Main Bet: Back Scott Piercy e.w. @ 60/1

If trying to find a common thread between the winners of this event since it was played at TPC San Antonio - Kevin Chappell, Jimmy Walker, Steven Bowditch, Martin Laird, Ben Curtis, Brendan Steele and Adam Scott - an ability to play well in windy conditions would cover just about everyone.

It makes sense of course. We're in Texas where gusts usually provide the backdrop to this week's event on the Greg Norman-designed Oaks course.

Latest forecasts suggest it won't be crazy winds but players will probably have to deal with something approaching 20mph on Friday.

I'm probably mad to focus on a player with iffy putting stats having watched Si Woo Kim miss putt after crucial putt last week and somehow lose the RBC Heritage but in notes from 2017 I note that I ruled out Kevin Chappell due to him not being in the top 200 for Strokes Gained: Putting.

My mistake. Chappell proved that ball-striking is a vital commodity on this lengthy track where the winds blow and he wasn't the first to win here thanks to a solid long game.

Chappell was running into form after a top 10 at Augusta and Scott Piercy has some similar credentials this week.

The American is coming into form after tied 24th in Houston and tied 16th at the RBC Heritage on his last two starts and he was ranked in the top six for greens in regulation in both events.

Piercy gained nearly six shots on the field Tee-to-Green in Houston and nearly seven in that category at Hilton Head.

Living in Las Vegas, he's honed his game in blowy conditions and his second-round 65 at Hilton Head last week came in a wind speed measured between 15mph to 20mph - the same as were'e expecting this week.

Looking at other events where the trouser legs can flap, Piercy has three top 25s in the last four Sony Opens, including a second place in 2015 while he's finished T4 and T16 in his last two appearances at the OHL Classic. That's played on another Greg Norman course, El Camaleon.

So far so good. The downside is his 156th spot in Strokes Gained: Putting but he's 1st for SG: Approach and 10th for SG: Tee-To-Green and I'm hoping he can show his usual ball-striking skills while sinking a few putts - the recipe that worked so well for Chappell last year.

As for course form, it isn't amazing but he has thrown in some low ones - 64 in 2010 and 65 in 2012 when finishing tied 18th. Overall, he's cashed in three of his four visits.

But the way he's hitting it right now makes Piercy a really attractive proposition at 60/1 in an event where good but not great players tend to be the ones that rise to the top.


Next Best: Back John Huh e.w. @ 90/1

John Huh finished runner-up at this venue in 2012 in remarkable circumstances after looking completely out of it when shooting a first-round 77.

By contrast, he closed with that same 5-over score in round four last year when sitting second with one lap to go.

In short, the American who grew up in South Korea, has done some excellent things on this layout and it's one he always likes returning to.

Asked last year if it suits his eye, Huh replied: "I believe so. I believe this golf course requires a good tee shot and a good second shot, which I feel like that's my strength."

His overall season stats may suggest otherwise but Huh was fifth for Driving Accuracy in Houston and 12th for greens in regulation at The Heritage last week.

He finished T32 and T23 respectively in those two events and the 27-year-old now has four finishes of T26 or better in his last six starts.

That lack of a top 20 in that run hasn't been much use to each-way punters but Huh was third at the CareerBuilder Challenge earlier this year and seems to have a thing for Greg Norman designs given that his only win on the PGA Tour came at El Camaleon in 2012.

With some nice history at this venue, I'm happy to get 90/1.


Final Bet: Back Abraham Ancer e.w. @ 125/1

I was close to putting up Abraham Ancer in the Houston Open when he battled away to finish T8 and this is his first start since.

The main reason was good old plain and simple current form as he'd finished T13 and T16 in his two previous starts.

With that sequence now 16-13-8, I'll pull the trigger at 125/1.

As a Mexican playing in Texas, he'll have huge support (as he did in that top 10 in Houston) and I like the fact that his last four closing rounds read 69-69-67-69. It shows he has some bottle on pay day.

Breaking down those good recent performances, he's cracked the top 20 for greens in regulation at all three and seven of his last 10 rounds have been in the 60s.

The 27-year-old was actually born in Texas before moving back across the border and played his college golf at Odessa (Texas) and the University of Oklahoma.

That would really have developed his ability to handle gusty conditions and when asked about his golfing education by none other than Jack Nicklaus at a 2010 awards ceremony, the then amateur Ancer replied: "A lot. A lot of wind. Yes, sir."

As a bit of a bonus, he also played this event in 2016 and finished a decent enough tied 42nd. To give that context, it was his third best finish in 15 starts on the PGA Tour that year, nine of which ended in missed cuts.

After a rare Japanese winner on the PGA Tour last week, why not a Mexican here?!

At the front of the betting, I still think Sergio Garcia will be easing his way back in after his enjoyable but testing week at Augusta National and balancing his new-found responsibilities as a dad while Matt Kuchar doesn't cry out to be backed at 16s.

Charley Hoffman (18/1) and Luke List (22/1) look short enough while former winner Adam Scott and defending champion Kevin Chappell don't grab my attention at 25s.

Ryan Moore looks the best of the market leaders at 25s but that's a bit pinched too.

I think it could be a slightly kooky leaderboard to be honest so I'm content to get with three players at 60s, 90s and 125s.


Dave's 2017/18 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £670
Returned: £1209.84
P/L: +£539.84

(After The Masters)

2016/2017:
P/L: +£1179.89

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