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Roebuck’s Texas Open Preview: Short game singles out Kevin Na

| 26.03.2014

Two former Masters Champions – Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson – vie for favouritism for this week’s Valero Texas Open, but while both might be popular amongst punters when the gates to Magnolia Drive swing open neither should be backed at short prices for success at TPC San Antonio.

Lefty is teeing it up in this particular Lone Star state event for the first time in 22 years, and while that shouldn’t necessarily count against him, the remainder of his career is surely now based around the Majors – and in particular the US Open – as he looks to complete the career Grand Slam.

More importantly, no top-10 finishes since January should persuade you to strike through Mickelson at 14/1.

Johnson’s Texas credentials are much better, but his numbers at San Antonio are poor, while iffy recent putting statistics and similar current form as Mickelson (zero top 10s for two and half months), make for another player to swerve at 16/1.

If a golfer’s short game is key, then Kevin Na might just be the man to follow at much more attractive odds of 40/1.

Sure, he’s the king of slow play at the moment – and I’ve not forgot San Antonio was the venue he once carded a 16 (yes, sixteen) on a single hole (the par four 9th) – but his form; fourth at Pebble Beach and second a fortnight ago at the Valspar Championship, is better than the vast majority in the field this week.

All four winners since this event moved to its current track ranked in the top 15 of putting average on the week, while three of last four champions rated in the top four for scrambling.

Na sits fifth in scrambling and 22nd in putts-per-greens in regulation this season.

Freddie Jacobson has based his entire career on his short game, and course form figures at TPC San Antonio of 2-5-18-15 bode well for backers.

The Swede has rediscovered his form in 2014, with three consecutive top 20 efforts coming into this week and looks a decent punt at 25s.

Lastly, Scott Langley looks overpriced at 80/1 to give followers another long price champion, after Matt Every’s 66/1 success last week.

According to his Twitter feed, this event is one of Langley’s favourites, and his near miss in tough conditions at the Valspar Championship, when third two weeks back, should hold him in good stead. As should his recent prowess on and around the greens.

My three off the tee – Na (40/1) , Jacobson (25/1) and Langley (80/1).

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Dan Roebuck