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Valero Texas Open: Expert Picks

Brendan Steele could be a solid A pick for the week.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

What: Valero Texas Open
When: April 20th -€” 23rd   
Where: JW Marriott TPC San Antonio
2016 Winner: Charley Hoffman (-12)
Purse: $6.2MM total (Winner -€” $1.1MM)

Course: TPC San Antonio Oaks Course. Built in 2010 by Pete Dye and designed by Greg Norman, this course's fairways will run a bit tighter than the golfers are used to from other events. Trees line the holes providing a tunnel to guide through each hole. The course is designed to challenge but complement situations. Players going downhill with find the wind coming at them and on the flip side wind will aid their treks uphill. Given these amenities, it is a bit of a wildcard in terms of success.

A.
Brendan Steele. First, start with his recent track record at this tournament: 13th in 2016 and 8th in 2015. Next see this season where he is 5 top 20 finishes in his last 9 tournaments and among the other 4, he made the cut each time. 3 of those 4 were either World Match play or the Masters and he still finished in the top 30 in 2 of those 3. If I didn't make all of that complicated enough -€” quite simply he's been a rather safe bet as a top 30 finish over the last 4 months.

B:.
Charley Hoffman. I'm generally not too crazy about picking last year's winner in a tournament, if for nothing else than it's incredibly rare to win it two years in a row. My logic -€” I have a better chance of picking the winner by NOT selecting last year's winner. Charley is playing so well right now he might just do it. He missed the cut at Heritage but prior to that he had 4 top 25 finishes in 5 tournaments. Not only did he win last year, but he finished 11th here in 2015, 25th in 2014 and 3rd in 2013.  

Jimmy Walker. Surprisingly this is my first time picking him this year. He missed the cut here last year which does make me a little nervous but he won it in 2015 and finished in the top 35 in 2013 and 2014. On top of that he's made 7 straight cuts, 4 of them being top 25 placings. Matt Kuchar is tempting but I have a hunch he's going to be tired this week.

C.
Zach Johnson. My first pick here as well which is not as surprising given how many times I've selected Jon Rahm. He missed the cut at the Masters, took a week to collect himself and now he comes to Valero where he finished 29th last year, 20th in 2015 and 6th in 2014. I think this could be an optimal situation for him to succeed. After his last 5 missed cuts he finished: 12th, 12th, 33rd, 47th and 14th.

Dark Horse:
Tim Wilkinson. He's 315th on the Official World Golf Ranking and yet he has not missed a cut in his last 8 PGA tournaments. He withdrew from The Honda Classic but has not played his way out of these tournaments. He finished 29th here last year.