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18D AGO

Horses for Courses: Round up two-time winner Corey Conners at TPC San Antonio

4 Min Read

Horses for Courses

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    Written by Mike Glasscott @MikeGlasscott

    The second consecutive week in Texas takes the PGA TOUR to San Antonio, the longest-serving city on the PGA TOUR to host an event. Every year since 1923, the Texas Hill Country hamlet, now the second largest city in Texas, has produced a champion and trails only the BMW Championship (1899) and the RBC Canadian Open (1903) as the oldest non-major event on TOUR.

    The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio, introduced as the tournament host course in 2010, will crown a champion for the 14th time in the last 15 years. Now returning to it's previous spot in late March or early April, the course stretches to 7,435 yards and plays to par 72.

    Corey Conners (+2200 at BetMGM) returns to defend his title for the second time in five years. The 2019 champion posted the tournament scoring record of 20-under 268 in perfect scoring conditions. The Canadian ball-striking machine had to wait for the 2021 edition for his first title defense. Performing admirably, he signed for T14. The first-round leader in 2023 with 64, he became the first two-time winner at the Oaks Course after closing the weekend 69-68 to win by a shot. From 20 loops, he’s produced 17 at par or better, including nine registering in the 60s, posting 67 or better six times. Whoa, Canada.

    Strokes Gained: Tee to Green

    Players listed are in the field this week; 2023 season stats.

    RankPlayer
    4Collin Morikawa
    8Tommy Fleetwood
    10Ludvig Åberg
    11Rickie Fowler
    13Corey Conners
    14Kevin Yu
    15Max Homa
    16Hideki Matsuyama
    17Russell Henley
    23Byeong Hun An

    Finding fairways at the Oaks Course happens almost as equally as missing them. Ranking 11th or harder on TOUR, the Oaks Course didn’t even register 50 percent for the 2023 edition. Rough at 2 1/4 inches, an inch deeper than last week in Houston, combined with breezy conditions, will test the decision-making and the ball flight from the field of 156. The last eight winners all have ranked in the top 10 for the week, with six residing in the top three.

    Judging the elevation changes, playing from uneven lies, and attacking narrow targets will separate the wheat from the chaff.

    The all-time leading money winner at the event, Charley Hoffman (+15000), has made the Oaks Course his Texas-sized playground. The champion from 2016 also has runner-up paydays from 2021, 2019, and 2011. The exceptions to the rules are few and far between, as he has cashed outside T22 twice in 12 weekend visits. Finishing second to Conners in 2019, posting 18-under, he would have won every previous event at the Oaks Course. Posting 16-under in 2021, he would have won all other events save two.

    RankPlayer
    T1Ludvig Aberg
    6Davis Thompson
    7Collin Morikawa
    T8Cam Davis
    T8 Matt Kuchar
    T8Vincent Norrman
    T12Jordan Spieth
    T14Peter Kuest
    T16 Matt Fitzpatrick
    T16Garrick Higgo, Nate Lashley
    T23Rory McIlroy, Akshay Bhatia, K.H. Lee
    T23Rickie Fowler, Doug Ghim, Harry Hall

    For the second week in a row, the par 5s will provide scoring chances for the players who are dialed in. The five-shot holes on the scorecard provide two downwind chances on the front nine at 602 yards and 604 yards. The back nine opportunities are 553 yards and 591 yards at the closing hole. Ranking in the top 12 of most difficult quartets on TOUR the last six years, finding a way to save shots on these challenges will go a long way. Of the eight previous champions, only one finishes outside the top eight in this category, and four led or co-led the event, including two of the last three. Let’s hope the wind cooperates.

    Jordan Spieth (+2000) returns to TPC San Antonio after electing to skip the 2023 edition. The 2021 champion posted 18-under, second to only Conner’s mark of 20-under in 2019, to secure his third top-10 payday from seven starts. The 2015 runner-up became the only winner from the last eight to register in the top 20 in Scrambling but is one of two winners to lead the field in Putting: Birdie or Better Percentage.

    RankPlayer
    1Taylor Montgomery
    2Ludvig Aberg
    4Eric Cole
    5Max Homa
    6Adam Scott
    9Rory McIlroy
    12Sam Ryder
    17Tom Kim
    20Tommy Fleetwood
    21Nicolai Hojgaard
    24Harry Hall
    25Peter Kuest

    The narrow, well-protected green complexes are overseeded with Poa Trivialis again this week. Exposed to the elements, they will be prepped to run at just over 11 feet and that will encourage players to get the ball to the hole. Short ones rarely go in, and paying off iron shots will be needed to keep up. Ranking 10th last year, Conners was the only winner to finish outside the top seven in this category.

    Making his 12th visit to Texas Hill Country, Matt Kuchar (+12500) has never had to change his flight to leave early. In his first 11 visits, he’s racked up eight paydays T25 or better, and his last four starts have cashed T3, T2, T12, and T7. Known for his accuracy off the tee and acumen around the greens, his blueprint for taking on the Oaks Course could be bottled and sold. Finding a spot for him on your card this week should not be difficult.

    Hitting the top 10 in two of his last three visits, Byeong Hun An (+6600) added T6 in 2023 to T7 in 2021. Posting six rounds from 14 in the 60s, the Korean posted 68-69 on the weekend last year to post 10-under, the second time he’s hit double digits at the Oaks Course (12-under, in 2019).

    Oddsmaker’s Extras

    • Rory McIlroy (+1000): Making his third start, he was the 2013 runner-up before missing the cut in the 2022 edition.
    • J.J. Spaun (+12500): Winner in 2022. The Californian returned to the top 25 (T22) in defense last year. Posting 19-under the last two editions, he picked up his best two paydays from six tries.
    • Billy Horschel (+3300): Here and gone and back. From 2013 to 2018, he signed for T3-MC-3rd-T4-MC-T11. Missing the cut in 2019 in his last appearance, he ended his run of consecutive events played at nine.
    • Adam Scott (+4500): The first champion at the Oaks Course, the Australian defended with T23 in 2011 before missing the cut in his last appearance in 2018.
    • Aaron Baddeley (+20000): A perfect nine from nine includes T30 or better eight times. Wedge him in.
    • Kevin Streelman (+22500): A veteran longshot, he's another who has not missed in eight attempts in his career.

    -Odds courtesy of BetMGM.com-

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

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