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Valero Texas Open tips: Ludwig Aberg poised to make statement of intent ahead of Masters debut

Before all golfing eyes shift to next week’s Masters at Augusta, an unexpectedly strong field will be looking to make a statement of intent ahead of the first Major of the year.

Texas Open key stats:

  • When: April 4-7 2024
  • Where: Oaks Course, TPC San Antonio, Texas
  • How long: 7,435 yards - par 72
  • What to expect: Gentle undulating mixture of wide and narrow tree-lined fairways, penal rough but the course’s main defence is when the wind blows
  • Who won last year: Corey Conners (-15)

The Texas Open celebrated its centenary two years ago and is now the oldest golf tournament to have been held in the same city throughout its entire existence.

Considering we’re just a week away from The Masters, the tournament boasts a deep line-up made up of players out for a final tune-up before the big event, and those pitching a last-ditch effort to book their ticket to Augusta.

Rory McIlroy heads the former group and despite looking good in the Middle East earlier this year, the Northern Irishman has looked a little scratchy in the States, and he will see this as an important opportunity to tighten up his game, especially in his approach shots to the green.

At 9/1 he’s not the dominant favourite that Scottie Scheffler was in Houston last week, but is always worth an each-way dabble if the price merits it, although arguable second-favourite Ludwig Aberg holds better value at double-digit odds.

The young Swede hasn’t quite stormed the PGA Tour as much as many anticipated so far this year, but at the same time he has seldom been too off the pace, making the top 25 in each of his last five tournaments, including runner-up at Pebble Beach and a creditable eighth at The Players Championship last time out.

Having attended college in the Lone Star State, he will not be fazed if the notorious Texan wind picks up, plus the strength of his mid-to-long iron play looks well suited for long-distance precision demanded by the Oaks Course.

 Suggested bet: Ludwig Aberg (16/1) each-way in the Texas Open

Elsewhere, defending champion Corey Conners also won this event in 2019, so he could well make a nonsense of his 20/1 price, although only Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard have successfully defended their Texas Open crown since Arnold Palmer did so in the sixties.

The Canadian joins Hideki Matsuyama (18/1) in topping the most metrics required for this event, but one bubbling under at a more enticing 28/1 is Billy Horschel, who has enjoyed three top ten finishes either side of missing the cut at The Players.

Horschel is renowned for blowing hot and cold, but when he puts himself in contention he is usually a force to be reckoned with on a Sunday afternoon, as he proved down the stretch at last week’s Houston Open when a six-under-par final round of 64 put him within a couple of shots of the eventual winner Stephan Jaeger.

Suggested bet: Billy Horschel (28/1) each-way in the Texas Open

Outsiders to watch:

  • Matt Fitzpatrick (25/1) - has alternated top 20 finishes with missed cuts recently, but looked to have his game in shape when 5th at The Players last time out.
  • Tom Kim (40/1) - mercurial talent who is yet to fire this season, but could be ready to up his game if fully fit after his withdrawal from The Players.
  • Ryan Moore (95/1) - eights shots off the lead last week and fifth at the Valspar, Moore finished 7th here in 2018 and third the following year, before injury setbacks from which he now seems to be recovering nicely.
  • Charley Hoffman (120/1) - a dozen top-15 finishes here since 2006, winner in 2016, runner-up in 2019 and 2020, age is against him, but his previous form here could serve him well at a huge price.

Suggested bet: Charley Hoffman (120/1) each-way in the Texas Open

Suggested bet summary:

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