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19D AGO

Odds Outlook: Rory McIlroy tops field in Texas Hill Country at Valero Texas Open

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    Written by Mike Glasscott @MikeGlasscott

    The second act of the Texas two-step takes the PGA TOUR to San Antonio, one of the most historical golf cities on the schedule. Only the BMW Championship (Western Open, 1899) and Canadian Open (1904) have hosted more events.

    Dating back to its inception in 1923, the Valero Texas Open is the longest-running tournament on TOUR played in one city. The quest for the career Grand Slam next week pushes Rory McIlroy (+1000) into the favorite’s seat at BetMGM Sportsbook as he gets in some extra reps before the Masters. Still seeking the only trophy from the four majors missing from his mantle, the Ulsterman will use TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course) to fine-tune his game.

    The runner-up in his Valero debut in 2013, the No. 2 player in the Official World Golf Ranking missed the cut in his only other visit in 2022. Beginning the year with a victory and a T2 payday in Dubai, his best paycheck in the States from five tries so far this season is T19 at THE PLAYERS Championship in his last outing.

    The second name on the board this week, Ludvig Åberg (+1400), is a Texan by college choice. The Swedish sensation climbed to the top of the PGA TOUR University Rankings in Lubbock, Texas, while attending Texas Tech. Four years of college golf in the wind-swept plains of West Texas will provide a familiar backdrop as he looks to pick up his second win on TOUR since December. After opening 2024 with T47 at The Sentry, his next six starts are all T30 or better, including T2 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the second Signature Event of the year at Pebble Beach. A Ryder Cup winner with Europe last September, the No. 9 player in the OWGR cashed solo eighth at THE PLAYERS Championship in his last outing and will make his major championship debut next week at Augusta National.

    When healthy, Hideki Matsuyama (+1800) is consistently a factor on the leaderboard on the weekend. The Japanese star kicked into gear at The Genesis Invitational, walking the back nine to a three-shot victory in February. Returning to Bay Hill without lingering injury concerns during the Florida Swing, the 2021 Masters champion cashed T12 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard before producing four rounds in the 60s at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course to claim T6. Moving the ball through the wind from tee to green over the 7,435 yards (par 72) is the requirement, and that’s his calling card. Making his fourth consecutive appearance at TPC San Antonio, he will look to improve on T15 last year, his best payday of the bunch.

    Making his tournament debut, Collin Morikawa (+2000) is also looking for a spark before the first major of the season. The usually automatic tee-to-green specialist has been finding plenty of fairways (19th) but has been languishing, by his standards, with his approach play (84th Greens in Regulation; 52nd Strokes Gained: Approach). The variety of tee shots this week will dial in the driver, and the narrow, well-protected greens will require excellent iron play. After T5 at The Sentry to open 2024, the two-time major champion is still looking for his second top-10 result.

    Corey Conners (+2200) is the only two-time champion at TPC San Antonio since the event moved to the TPC San Antonio's Oaks Course for the 2010 edition. The Canadian set the tournament scoring record of 268 (20-under) in perfect scoring conditions during his first victory in 2019. Last year, he posted 15 under, the fourth-lowest total since 2010, as he held off Sam Stevens (+15000) by a shot. Only Arnold Palmer Invitational and Justin Leonard have won this event three times. Dating back to last June, he’s rattled off 15 consecutive cuts. Cashing T18 Bay Hill and T13 THE PLAYERS, his last two paydays are his best two of 2024. Defending for the second time, tournament officials already know what size boots to have ready if he wins again.

    One of three native Texans to win the title since 2010, Jordan Spieth (+2200) slipped on the pair of custom boots after closing out the 2021 edition on 18 under. Playing the weekend on his last five visits, including solo second in 2015 and 10th in 2024, the Dallas native did not start last year. Missing the cut in his last two starts on TOUR, the three-time major winner is also looking to set the fire before arriving in Augusta next week.

    Max Homa (+2500) enjoys having a pop on the big par 72 layouts, and this week qualifies. Already raking in top-15 money this year from Kapalua, Torrey Pines, and Bay Hill, the Californian returns to the Texas Hill Country for the first time since 2019 (T42). Feasting on par 5 holes, he can also grind out pars from out of position. Closely mown areas around the greens will be on the menu this week and next.

    Joining Morikawa on debut from the top of the board this week, Matt Fitzpatrick (+2800) will bring his ball-striking brigade to navigate 64 bunkers and waste areas, and three water penalty areas. Sitting inside the top 30 in both Total Driving and Greens in Regulation, the former U.S. Open champion should be tuned in. Coming off his best result of 2024, solo fifth at THE PLAYERS Championship, adding four more rounds in the 60s this week will have him in the mix on Sunday. The last debutant winner here was Ben Curtis in 2012.

    Here's a look at some of the other notable odds from the 156-man field via BetMGM, including the reigning Champion Golfer of the Year:

    • +3300: Alex Noren, Billy Horschel, Brian Harman, Byeong-Hun An, Tommy Fleetwood
    • +3500: Russell Henley
    • +4000: Aaron Rai, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Harris English
    • +4500: Adam Scott (2010 champion), Tom Kim
    • +5500: Akshay Bhatia, Eric Cole, Keith Mitchell
    • +6600: Beau Hossler, Denny McCarthy, Lucas Glover, Maverick McNealy, Victor Perez, Erik van Rooyen, Rickie Fowler
    • +8000: Andrew Putnam, Austin Eckroat, Brendon Todd, Doug Ghim, Nicolai Hojgaard
    • +9000: Davis Riley, Davis Thompson, K.H. Lee, Lee Hodges
    • +10000: Adam Schenk, Andrew Novak, Ben Griffin, Matti Schmid, Max Greyserman, Patrick Rodgers, Ryan Moore, Ryo Hisatsune, Sam Ryder, Seamus Power, Taylor Montgomery

    Past champions in the field

    • 2022: J.J. Spaun (+12500)
    • 2018: Andrew Landry (+75000)
    • 2017: Kevin Chappell (+30000)
    • 2016: Charley Hoffman (+15000)
    • 2015: Jimmy Walker (+60000)
    • 2013: Martin Laird (+20000)

    How the Valero Texas Open works:

    • A field of 156 players will be cut to the top 65 and ties after 36 holes.
    • The winner this week will earn the final Masters invite if not otherwise exempt.
    • Purse of $9.2 million.
    • The winner takes home $1.66 million plus 500 FedExCup points, an invitation to the remaining Signature Events of 2024 and the 2025 Sentry.
    • Reminder: TPC San Antonio has hosted this event since 2010. Previous winners/results from other courses are just that.

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