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2024 PGA Tour Preview: Valero Texas Open

The Valero Texas Open is the next stop on the PGA Tour schedule this week, and the players will use this week to get ready for the Masters next week. Several players will also try to make the field next week by winning, as this is their last chance to earn an invitation. 30 players in the field this week have already secured their places at Augusta National next week, meaning that for the 126 others in the field, a win this week would mean more than usual.

Chris Gallagher and Everett Davidson contributed to this article.

The Course

TPC San Antonio is a good warm-up for the Masters next week, as the course will play somewhat similar to how Augusta National will. The first hole is the toughest on the course, and last year, it ranked as the 14th-toughest hole on the PGA Tour. However, the course, in its entirety, is somewhat easier, and it ranks around the middle of the PGA Tour in terms of its average score to par. It plays as a par-72, and the course is one of the longer courses on Tour at 7,438 yards. Players who have a good week at TPC San Antonio (since 2019, when it was moved to the week before the Masters) tend to have a good showing at Augusta National.

The Field

With the first major of the 2024 PGA Tour season right around the corner, the field at TPC San Antonio is strong, with players looking to have one final tune-up before heading to Augusta. Headlined by world number two Rory Mcilroy, the 34-year-old is making his first start since The Players Championship. Three other golfers in the top ten of the Official World Golf Rankings are joining him: Brian Harman, Max Homa, and Ludvig Aberg. Rounding out the 156-man field, Corey Conners is looking to join Justin Leonard, and Arnold Palmer as the only players to win the event three times. The Canadian carded a final round 68 a year ago to edge out Sam Stevens by one stroke for the victory.

Chris' Valero Texas Open Picks

Favorite: Ludvig Aberg

A four-year starter at Texas Tech, Aberg has plenty of experience in the Lone Star state. The Swedish native captured the Ben Hogan Award as the top player in college golf both in 2022 and in 2023. Entering the weekend in solid form, the 24-year-old has grabbed two top-ten finishes in his last four starts, including a runner-up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. One of the best players off the tee in the field, the current world number seven ranks 34th on Tour in driving distance (304.7) and 14th in Strokes Gained: Total (1.048). Furthermore, he ranks inside the top 25 in par-five scoring, allowing him to attack the three par fives at TPC San Antonio that each play nearly 600 yards.

Favorite: Hideki Matsuyama

A winner at the Genesis Invitational in February, Matsuyama has jumped out to a hot start to begin his season. The 32-year-old placed T12 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before grabbing a T6 at The Players Championship. Back healthy after battling a nagging neck injury, he ranks 27th on Tour in Greens in Regulation (71.15) and 44th in scoring average (70.726). Furthermore, the Japanese native leads the field at the Valero in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green over his last 12 rounds. With a strong track record at TPC San Antonio, Matsuyama finished T30 in 2021, one week before winning the Masters. Along with this, the 11-year veteran placed T15 at the tournament last year.

Sleeper: Billy Horschel

Beginning to heat up over the last few weeks, Horschel has placed inside the top 15 in three of his previous five events. This includes a T7 at the Texas Children's Houston Open and a T9 at the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches. Moreover, despite ranking 71st in the FedEx Cup standings, the seven-time PGA Tour winner ranks 48th in driving accuracy (63.1), third in scoring average (69.931), and 15th in Strokes Gained: Putting (0.631). Sensational at The Valero throughout his career, Horschel has finished inside the top five at the event three times, including a T4 in 2015. Still not exempt into the Master's field next week, the University of Florida product offers excellent value at his 35/1 odds.

Everett's Valero Texas Open Picks

Favorite: Jordan Spieth

Spieth somewhat famously ended his long losing streak here in 2021, but since then, he has only won once, at the RBC Heritage in 2022, and he is coming up on two years since his last win. However, Spieth hasn't fallen off like he did last time, and already this season, he has two top-10 finishes, with a solo third at The Sentry in January and a T6 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He doesn't come in on the best of form, as he is coming off two straight missed cuts at The Players and the Valspar Championship, but he is a past winner here, and Augusta National is one of his best courses, so he will want to try to get back on track beforehand. Spieth is due for another win, and it could quickly come this week.

Favorite: Max Homa

Homa is ranked 10th in the world, and he hasn't played in San Antonio since 2019, but he needs to play well this week to warm up for next week. He hasn't traditionally played well in majors and needs to build as much momentum going into the Masters as possible. Homa only had one top-10 at a major in his career, and it was the last major he played, the 2023 Open, where he finished T10. Homa tends to play well on challenging courses, as four of his six wins have come at the toughest venues on the PGA Tour, and he hasn't won in over a year at this point (despite playing well). Homa has four top-16 finishes in seven events so far this season, and while he would rather win next week over this week, a win in San Antonio could help propel him to his first major title.

Sleeper: Adam Scott

Scott won this tournament in 2010 and has been playing well to begin this season, with three top-20 finishes in five events to start the year being punctuated by a T8 finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He is also the 2013 Masters Champion, and there is no doubt that he would love to add a second Green Jacket to his closet next week. Outside of the win in 2010, Scott doesn't have a great track record, as his only two other starts were a T23 in 2011 and a missed cut in 2018. However, Scott has returned to play to prepare for next week, and there is little doubt that he could be in contention come Sunday.

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