The PGA Tour stops off at TPC San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open this week and Sung-Jae Im looks to be primed and ready to become the first South Korean player to lift the trophy since it debuted in 1922.
With a spot in the Masters on offer for the winner of this event, an entertaining week of golf is expected and where better for a player to earn a spot in the Augusta National field than the challenging TPC San Antonio.
The Texas course is a beast at 7,435 yards and it has never averaged under par, with last year’s clip of 72.367 making it the third-hardest track among par 72s in tournaments outside of the majors.
American Rickie Fowler, who will be making his debut in the event, is the 10/1 favourite but there looks to be some real value in backing South Korean star Im, who is thoroughly enjoying his rookie season.
Last year’s Web.com Tour Player of the Year is certainly showing youthful exuberance with the number of tournaments he is playing in since the start of 2019, and this will be his sixth straight start and his 12th appearance of the year.
The 21-year-old showed his class when finishing in a tie for third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and he bounced back from a missed cut at the Players Championship the following week with a T4 at the Valspar Championship.
Already climbing to 57th in the world, Im is 18th in strokes gained: tee-to-green, 25th in scoring average at 70.231, while he ranks first in birdies, having made 254 to date.
This will be the South Korean’s tournament debut but he has already shown he can handle some tough courses and another strong performance is expected.
With just three South African players in the field, there appears to be real value in backing world number 48 Harding to get the better of compatriots Ernie Els and Dylan Frittelli.
The 33-year-old has been in fantastic form over the past month, with victory in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters followed by a tie for second at the Kenya Open, and he has already earned his place at the Masters.
Harding was unlucky to come up against in-form Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play as he finished second in Group 4, having beaten American Luke List and Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick.
It promises to be another good opportunity for the South African to shine on the PGA circuit and a strong display in Texas will be great preparation for the first major of the season.
You can be forgiven for forgetting the name of Trahan, who has slipped out of the scene for a number of years, but he is producing one of the more impressive career resurgences in recent memory.
Having been ranked 2036th in the world at one stage last season, the 38-year-old American is now sitting 497th in the standings after showing some consistent form in 2019.
The two-time PGA Tour winner has three consecutive top-20 finishes to his name and this is largely down to his GIR and scrambling stats, of which he is ranked seventh in both departments.
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