The teak-tough Texas track shifts back to a post-Masters berth after spending the last three years holding hands with the Shell Houston Open ahead of the the first Major of the season.
While the course isn’t quite underwater after the biblical flooding that took place earlier this week, conditions will be a lot different than previous years as reigning champ Jimmy Walker attempts to become the third back-to-back winner here after Justin Leonard (2000-01) and Zach Johnson (2008-09) won the over-sized cheque – and a pair of black cowboy boots – in successive years.
Here are the 7 players punters are latching onto at 10am on Wednesday morning.
1. Bryson DeChamabeau
A T4 behind Branden Grace at Harbour Town last weekend saw golf’s ‘Great Gatsby’ get his pro career after to a pretty spectacular start in the paid ranks.
BDC knows how to pull a crowd and his unique approach to the game has already started to feed through the Tour, media and Paddy’s pre-tournament book. The 22-year-old is currently attracting twice as much interest as the rest of the field – even if he’s getting his first look at TPC San Antonio as a pro.
But it hasn’t bothered him so far as he’s yet to finish higher than T27 when competing against the big boys (even as an amatuer). Last year’s US PGA Amateur and NCAA Champion joined an exclusive club in Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson and er, Ryan Moore as just the fifth player to win both events in the same year.
But his top five finish in the RBC International was better than all four ever managed on their pro debut.
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2. Jimmy Walker
The defending champion arrived on the big stage when pulling off consecutive wins on Tour in 2015 – including this one in his home state.
TPC San Antonio is just 35 miles from the Texan’s front door and Walker skipped Harbour Town last week after a T29 finish at Augusta when a quietly fancied 55/1 shot on the trading floor of Power Tower.
He jinxed himself when winning the Par 3 competition at the Masters but with his laser accurate approach shots and ability to get hot with the flat stick he should find himself more at home – at home – this week.
3. Branden Grace
It’s pretty damn modest of us to wait until half-way in to gloat about tipping Brance Grace at 40/1 last weekend to break his PGA Tour duck at Harbour Town.
Unlike Walker last season, who was the first consecutive winner for a Tour and a half, the South African will join Aussies Adam Scott and Jason Day as dual winners already this season, if he goes back-to-back in Texas.
His confidence is sky high and if the Harbour Town celebrations didn’t last too long into the week, the seven-time European Tour winner (who did go btb on the European Tour in 2012) improved to 30th last year from a debut 79th at TPC San Antonio. Could contend again.
4. Charley Hoffman
A final-day 75 undid all Hoffman’s good work at Harbour Town, where he was well positioned going into the weekend after a pair of 68s.
But this event has been kind to the San Diego native who’s been a regular since 2006 and has posted four Top 10s among his nine top 15 place finishes, at the Texas track.
But he desperately needs to get a grip on his Sunday cards as they’ve seen him drop off leaderboards quicker than Aston Villa slid out of the Premier League this season.
5. Phil Mickleson
Took last week off after missing the cut at the US Masters but has yet to get to grips with the Texas track and finished 30th last year after going AWOL the year before.
Mickleson had been getting his game together earlier in the season and already has a T13 in the Lone Star State behind Fabian Gomez at the Shell Houston Open, which ‘the Mick’ openly admitted was just a tune-up for the big test in Augusta.
Gets back to the bump and grind of the US Tour now and will look to post some solid numbers ahead of the Players Championship at Sawgrass next month before another crack at nailing his US Open hoodoo in mid-June.
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6. Billy Horschel
Ground out scores in the US Masters and at the RBC Heritage, but Horschel usually appreciates a challenge and his course form here could leave him a little overpriced in Paddy’s book, especially with 7 places on offer.
Two third-place finishes at TPC San Antonio in the last three years is something to work with and despite not getting his head in front since 2014, there have been signs that he’s ready to win again.
Has posted top 10s at the Farmers Insurance Open and the Honda Classic already this season ans could easily outrun his price this week.
7. Matt Kucher
Another who hasn’t troubled the judge since 2014 (when he won last week’s tournament at Harbour Town) but the Kooch was just denied in San Antonio also back then, when beaten here in a play-off.
Granted he blew a four-shot lead, but it feeds into his four top 25 finishes in his last four visits to this track and the timing of this event looks perfect to build on his T9 finish to Branden Grace last weekend.
Posted four rounds in the 60s at the Northern Trust Open to finish T8 behind Bubba Watson and his backers will be optimistic that he’s in with a chance of getting measured for a pair of black cowboy boots come Sunday night.