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Preview: PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open

Preview – PGA Tour – Valero Texas Open – AT&T Oaks TPC San Antonio – San Antonio, Texas –

The PGA Tour hosts the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, Texas at TPC San Antonio this week as players prepare for the first major championship of the year.

Phil Mickelson, who just recently committed to play, headlines the 156-player field this week. Making a rare appearance at the event, he is clear preparing his game for Augusta National and The Masters Tournament. It’s his first appearance at VTO since his rookie season in 1992.

The highest ranked player in the field at No. 5 is trying to gather some momentum for Augusta. He is one of five Top 25 players in the Official World Golf Ranking in the field.  FedEx Cup standing leader Jimmy Walker tees it up as well.

Several international players based on the European Tour are competing this week including Branden Grace and Peter Uihlein. While the Champions Tour has a few players making a PGA Tour start including Mark Calcavecchia, Woody Austin and Fred Funk.

A tight layout awaits the field. Although the tournament has a history in Texas and especially San Antonio, this is just TPC San Antonio’s 5th year as host. Stretching to more than 7,400 yards and designed by Greg Norman, this par-72 layout demands accurate tee shots for success.

2013 Recap:

  • Martin Laird (14-under) posted a final-round 63 to steal victory from Rory McIlroy by two shots. It was Laird’s only round in the 60s all week. Jim Furyk managed three rounds in the 60s en route to a T-3 finish alongside Charley Hoffman and Billy Horschel.

Past champions here include Ben Crane (2012), Brendan Steele (2011), Adam Scott (2010) and Zach Johnson, who won it back-to-back in 2008 and 2009.

FANTASY: Take a look at Charley Hoffman. He was T-3 last year, second in 2011 and T-13 in 2010. He also has three other Top 11s since 2006. Take players like Matt Kuchar or Furyk, who play with control off the tee. Freddie Jacobson has history here with a runner-up in 2010. He enters with three Top 20s off the Florida Swing.

BETTORS: At 14-to-1 odds at www.ladbrokes.com, Phil is the outright favorite. But instead, play Hoffman (25-1), who is trending in the right direction heading into TPC San Antonio and plays well here. Jordan Spieth (20-1) is due for a solid week. Zach Johnson, with two victories this season, is a sharp pick at 16-1. He was 8th on tour in 2013 in Driving Accuracy. John Senden, 66-1, won two weeks ago but his game fits this track.

Other Golf News:

  • Matt Every jumped to 50 places to No. 44 in the latest world ranking and earned a spot in the Masters with his victory last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
  • Karrie Webb’s comeback win at the JTBC LPGA Founders Cup helped her move into the Top 5 of the latest Rolex Ranking. She trails Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko.
  • Fresh off a fourth-place finish at Bay Hill, Jason Kokrak enters the Valero Texas Open as a 33-1 pick.
  • The PGA Tour and Quicken Loans entered into a partnership t ohost the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club in June.