The PGA Tour heads to Texas this week for the 2023 Valero Texas Open for the first of four stops there over 2023. The setting is TPC San Antonio, a longer par 72 where winding fairways and hard-to-hit greens usually don’t offer a ton of low scores. For first-round leader purposes, we want players who can methodically manage their way around the course and hit enough solid long iron shots to give themselves some chances at birdies on the tougher holes. Nonetheless, onto our 2023 Valero Texas Open first round leader picks, bets, predictions and other DFS-related information.
The Valero Texas Open has often produced some strange winners but the more recent first-round leaders are all names who make sense in terms of a course fit. Great ball strikers like Russell Knox (2022) and Si Woo Kim (2019) have been first-round leaders at this event recently and neither man was an event favorite when they hit. In fact, of the last five first-round leaders at the Valero, four have gone off at 60-1 or bigger in the betting odds.
With the weather creating uncertainty once again, we will look to OddsShopper’s golf betting tools to identify the best value options for first-round leader selections for the Valero Texas Open.
2023 Valero Texas Open First Round Leader Bets
Four of the last five first-round leaders of this event have been solo a.m., wave leaders. Further, the wind on Thursday pretty clearly builds throughout the afternoon, and we could see a 5+mph difference in wind speed between the waves on the first day. With that in mind, I’ve targeted early morning tee times only this week and identified some solid mid-range and long-shot plays going off before 10:00 am local time in San Antonio.
Nick Hardy First Round Leader (+7000) at BetMGM
Hardy broke free from a four-event missed cut streak in Corales, posting a 13th-place finish at the alternate field event. It was a good sign that perhaps the American is back on track after such a slow start to the season. Hardy had been pegged by many as a potential breakout candidate this season after a very solid fall swing, which saw him gaining multiple strokes on approach nearly every start.
Despite not making the cut at the Valero last season, Hardy at least was able to gain some experience playing this tougher track and that should help him this week on his second go around. He’s got an early tee time and is a player who I could see building off his momentum from last week with a quick start in round one. At 70-1 or bigger, the odds here are massive to take a shot with on a legit up-and-coming player.
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Aaron Rai First Round Leader (+7000) at DraftKings
Rai has been grinding it out on the PGA TOUR for over a year now and we’ve seen his development take shape. He’s a consistent iron player who also has proven adept around the greens and is able to handle some tougher courses, despite not being overly long off the tee. He opened with a 64 earlier in the season at Torrey Pines North and is coming off a 19th placing at the Players which saw him gain over six strokes ball-striking for the week.
Rai’s got an early tee time on Thursday and comes in with very decent odds at 70-1 in this market. Much like Hardy, there is little reason not to like him for Thursday. Rai will also be playing TPC San Antonio for the second time in his career this season and opened with a 67 on this course last year, his first time ever starting at the event. A fast start for Rai after a confidence-building outing at Sawgrass wouldn’t be shocking this week and if his putter shows up, he’s a player who could potentially challenge for the outright win as well.
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Valero Texas Open First Round Leader Longshot Bets
Long-shot bets in the first-round leader market hit all the time on the PGA Tour. You can always use OddsShopper’s tools to check out and compare odds across the major sites.
Kevin Streelman First Round Leader (+8000) at DraftKings
Kevin Streelman First Round Top 5 (+1200) at BetMGM
Streelman is the prototypical veteran player who we see come to the Valero nearly every season and find some success. The multiple-time PGA TOUR winner has made the cut seven times in a row at TPC San Antonio and has finished 18th or better at this event in each of his past three visits to the course. He comes in off one of his best starts of the season as well, having posted a 27th at the Valspar, which is played at another long, tough layout. Streelman gained over 4.0 strokes on approach at Copperhead and comes in well-rested and with an early Thursday tee time which should see him go off in the best conditions. At 80-1 or better, he’s a solid value to chase in this market and also makes sense as a top-five target given his overall consistency at this venue.
Brent Grant First Round Leader (+12500) at BetMGM
Brent Grant First Round Top 5 (+2000) at BetMGM
Grant is an interesting young player who hits the ball a ton and looks promising to chase in this weaker field event. The 26-year-old has started to show better consistency of late and shot rounds of 64 and 68 in the first rounds of the Farmers and Pebble Beach Invitational earlier this season. Grant got himself in the running at Corales last week and his approach game has been gaining strokes for him nearly every week of late.
He’s the type of player whose short game and putting likely isn’t quite at the level to grab him a win on the PGA TOUR but whose long game will continue to give lots of birdie chances, even on a tougher course like TPC San Antonio. With an early tee time for round one, he makes for a solid long shot bet to chase in hopes we can squeeze out one good round from his putter this Thursday.