The PGA Tour heads to Texas this week for the Valero Texas Open. As ever on the PGA Tour, it takes two or three weeks for the top players to resume play after the Masters and this week we see another handful come back to make this a competitive looking tournament.
Patrick Reed is the highest-ranked player in the tournament at number 14 and he is one of five top 25 players in the field. Reed hasn’t been at his best recently but we all know he thrives on momentum and confidence so a good start for him here would give him a great chance. This is as close to home soil as it gets for Reed so expect him to have plenty of support around the course if he is in touch over the weekend.
My main fancy this week is South African Branden Grace, a player who is really starting to play himself into some very nice form. He performed very well at the RBC Heritage last weekend, scoring par or better on every round to finish the week 8 under and in 11th place.
The basic rules of this course are very similar to last week, accuracy will be key again due to the demanding rough and bunkers, and once on the greens, it will go down to who can hole the most putts. Grace finished in the top 10 last year, showing his liking for the course and his 27th in the Masters, after an awful first round, deserves much more credit than the bare result suggests. Last week was promising and I’m expecting Grace to go even closer this week.
Grace has certainly shown over the past two weeks that he has the ability and current form to win again very soon. With his liking for the course, good play on a similar style of course last week and the slightly weakened field, I feel he has to go very close here, everything seems to be in his favour.
The second player I like this week is Luke Donald, who comes here on the back of a good second last week when I expected him to go very well, and he duly obliged. Had it not been for a poor third round last Saturday, I believe he would have won comfortably. Donald hasn’t been quietly performing well this year, although last week was clearly his best performance of the season. He loves a tight course where his accuracy can come into play and because of that, I am happy to side with him this week.
Four solid rounds will see Donald go close this week, he will be hoping others get themselves in trouble on this narrow course and if they do then Donald has a real shot in this.
Elsewhere, Ian Poulter is playing for his card on the tour for the rest of the season as his medical exemption runs out of this event. He will no doubt thrive under that pressure and has a chance of going close under the circumstances. He was playing really well last week for two days, before gradually slipping down the leaderboard over the weekend.
Make sure you keep your eye out for Curtis Luck who comes here on the back of playing all four days at the Masters as a rookie. He leaves the amateur tour as number one and now begins life as a pro. I don’t expect him to feature too much, but keep an eye on him if you can as I believe he is one to watch in the future.