After more than a decade of the Valero Texas Open being played at The Oaks course, there are several form trends to follow and specialists. Whilst past records are factored into the odds to some degree, I'm happy to place trust in those who have done it here before, on multiple occasions.
Not much to beat for course specialist Moore
Here, that means relying on Ryan Moore stepping up on the level seen so far in 2021. At this course he's recorded three top-eights in four tries, with nothing worse than 18th. That's better than he's managed this term but a couple of mid-division efforts at Pebble Beach and Bay Hill were respectable enough.
Moore may not need achieve much to win this. Course debutant Bo Hoag has bettered 71 only once in his last nine opening rounds. Sean O'Hair withdrew last time and has awful recent numbers.
Gmac very well-suited to this test
Graeme McDowell found some form from nowhere last week to finish fourth at Corales and this course is right up his alley. The former US Open champion loves a grind in the wind and finished seventh in the last renewal (2019), among three cuts, recording opening rounds of 68/72/69.
A repeat would be competitive in this group. D.A. Points has bettered 71 only once in 15 San Antonio rounds and has made just one cut anywhere in two years. Aaron Wise is the clear favourite but he missed the cut on his sole visit and is very inconsistent, hitting a high share of poor opening rounds.
Huh rock-solid in very weak group
Statistically, Joh Huh looks banker material. A former runner-up, who has hit sub-70 on six of his last nine rounds and missed only two cuts in 15. Zhang has bettered 70 only once in 15 openers and only went on to better 60th once in those events.
At his best of course, Rafa Cabrera Bello would have a strong chance but he's way off that level. He averages 74 for his ten rounds on the PGA Tour this year and his iron play numbers are especially worrying, given that is his usual strength.
Kuchar has the course credentials
In search of a form boost ahead of the Masters, Hideki Matsuyama makes his course debut. Whilst a worthy favourite, this one doesn't appeal, up against a principal opponent whose course record is rock-solid.
Kuchar has never missed a cut here, registering four top-15 finishes. Last week's return to form in his ideal Matchplay format is a big positive. Phil Mickelson is the outsider and as ever, not to be written off, but he had a bad time on all three previous visits.
Hoffman the nap against two strugglers
Finally, the nap. Charley Hoffman is the definition of a course specialist. All ten cuts made, eight top-13 finishes including a quartet of top-threes. After top-20 finishes at Sawgrass, Bay Hill and Pebble Beach, he's also got a significant form edge over both of these opponents.
Schwartzel is still struggling and has bettered 70 only once in his last ten opening rounds. Kyle Stanley is 31 over par for his last four rounds and has never made the top-50 at San Antonio in five attempts.
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