Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk as outright winner one of 3 smart bets

Three years in the past, Corey Conners scored golf’s final golden ticket to the Chocolate Factory.

The story is already the stuff of golf lore. Conners performed within the Monday qualifier for the Valero Texas Open, clinched one of the final spots within the event subject, then received all of it six days later to safe the ultimate Masters invitation for the very subsequent week.

With the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Bryson DeChambeau within the subject, this week’s Augusta precursor shouldn’t be devoid of leisure worth, although the true drama will come Sunday afternoon if a handful of contenders are in search of that last golden ticket.

It stays one of the best underlying subplots at any occasion on the schedule. If we’re looking for narratives, we are able to take a look at motivation simply as optimistically as we are able to view nerves pessimistically. That’s what occurs when a win comes with not simply the same old spoils of a two-year exemption and a seven-figure paycheck, but in addition a Sunday evening journey to Augusta.

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Maybe it’s extra of a romantic than life like notion, however I’m largely — largely — trying past these already certified for the Masters who is likely to be trying past this tourney, and as an alternative specializing in those that want this one slightly extra.

Let’s get proper to the picks, beginning with an outright who’s actually been trending in the appropriate route.

Outright winner

Chris Kirk (30/1): I’d count on this to be a preferred outright play this week.

Kirk owns the kind of kind/historical past intersection we so typically search, with tChree finishes of 14th or higher in his final 4 begins and 4 finishes of thirteenth or higher in his final six Texas Open begins.


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And hey, if we’re going after a narrative, let’s actually go after one. Not solely would Kirk clinch a return journey to Augusta for the primary time since 2016 — he’s not at the moment in subsequent week’s Masters subject, so he’s amongst those that wants a win to get in — he’s almost three full years from taking a self-imposed depart of absence from the PGA Tour as a result of alcohol abuse and melancholy.

Ever since final 12 months’s feel-good story on the Sony Open, when he completed runner-up and retained full enjoying privileges, I’ve believed Kirk would get again to the winner’s circle for a fifth time and he’s been knocking on that door currently. With strokes gained ranks of thirty third off the tee, forty third on method pictures and seventeenth across the greens, plus a optimistic placing quantity, Kirk is clearly doing all the pieces at a excessive degree proper now. 

Top-Five end

Branden Grace (22/1): For me, Grace epitomizes the rationale behind sticking with a participant till he pays off. There have been slight alerts that the person as soon as ranked as excessive as Tenth on this planet is able to return to one thing near that prominence.

This seems like the appropriate spot for him to take that subsequent step, as he’s completed Twenty third-Tenth-Ninth-Thirtieth in his final 4 begins at this one. I’ll sprinkle some on him outright, however top-five/10 props really feel like good hedges.

Top-10 end

Taylor Moore (10/1): A local of close by Oklahoma, Moore performed his faculty golf at Arkansas, all of which suggests he’s performed a number of windy rounds in his day.

In his preliminary PGA Tour season, Moore has proven that when he’s placing it nicely, he can put up some strong outcomes. While his 13 begins embrace only a single prime 10, this can be a place the place I’ve had him focused for some time, as it ought to swimsuit his fashion. 

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