Bet PGA Texas Open Golf: Mike Kern picks Jordan Spieth, Charley Hoffman, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar

The tournament tees off Thursday Morning.
Is this Jordan Spieth's week?
Is this Jordan Spieth's week? Associated Press Photo / Alex Gallardo

It’s the week before the Masters, which means just about all the big names are not playing in this week’s Texas Open in San Antonio. But they’re still going to have a winner, which means there’s every opportunity to cash a ticket or two.

Corey Conners won it the last time it was held, in 2019. Before that it was Andrew Landry and Kevin Chappell. So you get the idea. And in six of the last 10 years, the champion had finished 40th or worse in his previous start. That includes four missed cuts. Just thought it was worth mentioning.

I’m not going to run down the whole list of guys near the top. But this would seem to be a good week to maybe try to find some good investments in that mid-tier range.

Tony Finau is the fave, at 10-1. He’s only won once on the PGA Tour, and that was in a satellite event. But he’s almost always in contention. Go figure. He’s +250 for a top five. Maybe that’s the way to look at this. You won’t get much back, you if you get anything back that’s never a bad thing.

Jordan Spieth is next, at 11-1. He’s been playing really well lately, although he’s struggled on Sundays. His driving accuracy has been his main problem. And he hasn’t won in way too long too.

Scottie Scheffler, who lost in the final of last week’s Match Play, is 12-1. Conners is 16-1, along with Hideki Matsuyama, who’s also experiencing a lengthy victory drought. Abraham Ancer is 18-1. Ryan Palmer and Cam Tringale are 22-1. Charley Hoffman, who won this in 2016 and was second in 2011 and ’19, is 30-1.

Chris Kirk and Si Woo Kim are 33-1. Keegan Bradley and Sam Burns are 40-1. As are Cam Davis, Lanto Griffin, Zach Johnson and Brendan Steele. Johnson won here in 2008 and ’09, on a different course.

Matt Kuchar is one of four at 50-1. He made the semifinals last week. Rickie Fowler is 70-1. Who knows at this point? This is the last chance for him to get into the Masters. But he needs to lift a trophy to do so. Joel Dahmen, who won the satellite event last week, is 80-1. Andrew Putnam, who’s had three top 10s in his last eight starts, is 70-1. And 7-1 to get a top 10. Again, maybe a decent alternative to a straight win play.

There are some other names maybe worth noting, such as Gary Woodland at 90-1, Cam Champ, Chappell, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson at 100-1. But they’re mostly stabs, just in case. Or try them at 18-1 to get a top five, or 9-1 to get a top 10. You could probably do worse.

OK, here goes. In an event like this it’s hard to fall too in love with any of the chalk. That being said, this does finally seem like a good spot for Spieth to get back in the winner’s circle. I just wouldn’t get too carried away.

Instead, I’d rather put less money on a few longer shots. I would try Charley Hoffman, based on his track record at this place. And of course I would back it up with a top five at +750 and/or a top 10 at half that. I’d also take a look at Zach Johnson, who hasn’t missed a cut in his last 14 starts. That includes four top 10s. That includes an eighth last week. And he was fifth here in 2018, and sixth in ’14. He’s also +800 for a top 5 and 4-1 for a top 10. That’s definitely worth considering.

If I was going to give you one more I might go with Kuchar. He doesn’t win very often, but when he gets on a roll he can make a run, especially against this kind of field. And he too is 10-1 for a top five and 5-1 for a 10. This might be the week where those top five and top 10 plays wind up paying off, even if your guy or guys can’t find a way to get it totally done. And we all know how that feels.

See you at Augusta.

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