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12D AGO

Bolton: Don’t let Masters motivations shape your Valero betting card

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    Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf

    For all the reasons, the Masters Tournament generates attention year-round. But now, with it a week away, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid conversation about it even if you wanted.

    Of course, the Valero Texas Open will be contested this week. Like most other tournaments during the season, it’s a stand-alone competition that will send its champion to the Masters. What makes Valero unique, obviously, is that it holds the last coveted ticket to the first major of the year.

    In the field of 156 at TPC San Antonio, 30 already are exempt into the Masters. For the remainder, it’s easy to frame all narratives of motivation in the context of qualifying only for the Masters. However, that’s merely a benefit of the process for success and not the primary objective.

    That angle drives straight to the heart of a common talking point – that one golfer’s goal is greater in some way to another golfer’s goal. Sure, qualifying for the Masters is a big deal, but for many, merely making the cut and surging into the weekend for a good finish to climb within reach of, say, the Aon Next 10, is just as successful relative to his realistic targets. And yes, everyone is playing to win, but bettors and other gamers can be lulled into using this as an influence when filling out a card or a lineup.

    Don’t do it. Ignore next week this week. Comparing motivations ultimately is pointless. Stick with the tried-and-true methods as you would during any other week on the calendar.

    Pull quote

    Adam Scott (+188 = Top 20 via BetMGM Sportsbook) … The 43-year-old Aussie is nearing the 10th anniversary of converting the Texas slam. Prior to capturing the final pillar at Colonial Country Club, he emerged with victory at the first-ever Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio in 2010.

    In his meeting with the media on Tuesday, he eschewed conventional thought to play only courses that best suit his game in favor of the position of a tournament on the schedule. To that end, he’s forever exempt into the Masters as its 2013 champion and it’s on deck after his latest trip to Texas, so it’s always going to be a tournament that he’ll play when he’s able.


    Adam Scott talks about practice and feeling ready heading into Valero


    “I think I'm pretty open to just doing whatever I feel is best now,” he said. “Juggling lots of different factors at this point in my career, I end up just relying on like a gut instinct of what feels right and what's not, and it's even less about, ‘Does this course suit me and is this the right week to play if I feel like I need to play?.’

    “I thought this week was a great week for me to play.”

    My take: Ask any touring professional on which course he’s most likely to contend and he likely won’t eliminate any. Anyone who does is expressing external honesty in conjunction with the kind of self-belief required to scale to and hang with the top of the food chain.

    Scott is in the magical place in his career in which he’s achieved so much that he’s on the inside track for induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, but he’s still incredibly competitive past prime. His current position of 52nd in the Official World Golf Ranking is his worst since rising back into the top 50 in August of 2018.

    So, for him, timing trumps fit, but it doesn’t mean that TPC San Antonio doesn’t suit his profile. For those interested in betting, it’s then best to consider form no matter the talent. For a guy like him who doesn’t slump, it’s not stupid to reserve a unit for a Top-20 finish every time he plays. Prior to a lackluster pair of stops on the Florida Swing, he bridged the holiday break with seven of them in as many starts.

    Power Rankings wild card

    Jordan Spieth (+180 = Miss the Cut) … If you like this, then it’s possible that you already know that it wouldn’t be unprecedented for him to miss a third consecutive cut, but it’d be only the second time. In August and September of 2020 (officially spanning seasons at that time), he missed three in a row and went five straight starts without a top 70.

    Naturally, the sheer rarity of it is enough to reject the likelihood of a repeat, but he’s only +200 for a Top 10, fourth-shortest on BetMGM’s board. That’s because of who he is. Sure, he’s also a former champion at TPC San Antonio (2021) whose only missed cut in seven tries was 11 years ago, but he needs to find something ahead of the Masters and this course and the conditions will require better than even the native Texan has manufactured of late.

    In my familiar parlance, he’s a trap – but the beautiful thing is that you can bet on it!


    All-time shots from the Valero Texas Open


    Tao-ins

    NOTE: Not everything needs a setup. For a variety of reasons, these lines are too enticing to ignore.

    • PARLAY: Akshay Bhatia, Lucas Glover and Victor Perez (+300 = All to Make the Cut)
    • PARLAY: Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Aaron Rai and Adam Scott (+210 = All to Make the Cut)
    • Aaron Baddeley (+160 = Top 40)
    • Nico Echavarria (+275 = Top South American)
    • Nico Echavarria (+230 = Top 40)
    • Charley Hoffman (+160 = Top 40)
    • Zach Johnson (+230 = Top 40)
    • Maverick McNealy (+250 = Top 20)
    • Andrew Putnam (+120 = Top 40)

    Returning to competition

    Tom Kim … The good news about his first-round withdrawal from THE PLAYERS Championship was that it was an illness and not an injury. He then withdrew early from the Valspar Championship and took last week off, so he’s rested for his debut at TPC San Antonio. The bad news is that he’s gone eight starts without a top-15 finish this year. Every golfer regresses into a plateau at some point. He’s found his first and the problem is that the house must retain leverage, so you’re not going to find any value. Just wait it out.

    Camilo Villegas … Withdrew prior to the second round of the Valspar. An explanation hasn’t been released. In nine starts since a sizzling fortnight in the fall when he went T2-Win, the Colombian has scuffled with no better than a T50 in the 59-man field of The Sentry.

    Tyler Duncan … He was a late scratch before the opening round of the Texas Children’s Houston Open due to a sore back. He’s always managed to retain his card but he’s rarely a force in the short-term. Just 2-for-5 with without a top 40 at TPC San Antonio.

    Trey Mullinax … In the field at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Club Car Championship at The Landings Golf & Athletic Club. It’s his first action since the Sanderson Farms Championship six months ago after which he had surgery to repair the labrum in his right hip. He’s fully exempt in the winner’s category on the PGA TOUR in 2024.

    Anders Albertson … Also in the field on the KFT. It’s his first start anywhere since a T21 at the Puerto Rico Open 13 months ago. He took time away to address his mental health and has 19 starts on a medical extension on the PGA TOUR. Keep an eye on his progress as he’d be worth a flier in salary leagues that allow midseason pickups.

    Notable WDs

    Stephan Jaeger … With his breakthrough win in Houston, he’s qualified for the Masters and all remaining Signature Events, so with the first objective fulfilled, he can reset and plan long-term for balance.

    Thomas Detry … He didn’t qualify for the Masters but his T2 in Houston lifted him to ninth in the Aon Next 10 for the RBC Heritage in two weeks. Without that tenuous ranking and two tournaments remaining (Valero, Masters) to contribute, he’d currently be third in the next phase of the Aon Swing 5 that concludes at Valero. Even if he’s shut out, he’s in terrific position overall at 27th in the FedExCup.

    Scott Stallings … This isn’t surprising given he called it quits during his second round in Houston with a sore left shoulder. Just 3-for-9 on the season but 119th in the FedExCup. Not exempt into the Masters or the RBC Heritage, but the break could do his body good. Still could return at the Corales Puntacana Championship opposite Harbour Town, too. Remain patient.

    Matt Wallace … This is his first pre-tournament withdrawal after a commitment deadline on the PGA TOUR. Currently 120th in the FedExCup.

    Membership notes

    Because of the new calendar-year schedule and other significant modifications to the graduate reshuffle category, there are only two reorders in 2024. The first one will occur when the results at Valero are official.

    In years past when the first reorder aligned with the holiday break, playing time always increased for the guys who vaulted to the top reaches of the category, but as fields begin to expand to 156 regularly a month from now, a high percentage if not all should be competing regularly in all opens all the way through to the Wyndham Championship after which the second reorder will occur to determine position in the pecking order for the FedExCup Fall.

    For resources to overcome a gambling problem, call or text 1-800-GAMBLER today.

    Rob Bolton is a Golfbet columnist for the PGA TOUR. The Chicagoland native has been playing fantasy golf since 1994, so he was just waiting for the Internet to catch up with him. Follow Rob Bolton on Twitter.

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