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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Chappell fans can have their prayers answered in Texas

Maiden could be ready for breakthrough

Kevin Chappell is well suited to TPC San Antonio
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Live on Sky Sports 4, 8pm Thursday
Event starts 1pm

Palmer's top tip
Kevin Chappell 33-1
The Masters provided an enormous boost to morale for Kevin Chappell, who produced a superb six-under-par weekend to finish seventh, and there is every reason to believe the US Tour maiden is finally ready to make an overdue breakthrough.

Chappell was runner-up four times last season, twice beaten by Jason Day and once by Rory McIlroy, desperately unlucky not to get off the mark.

A period of struggle followed for Chappell in the wake of McIlroy's Tour Championship success at the end of September, a slump not aided by the need for equipment changes in the post-Nike era.

Form and confidence has been slowly but surely creeping back for Chappell in the last few weeks.

Getting drawn in the same group as Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia in the WGC-Match Play was a tough break, but three solid rounds in Houston and three excellent rounds at Augusta have followed. The Texas Open looks like a massive opportunity.

Chappell lost by a shot on his Texas Open debut as a US Tour rookie in 2011 and he tied for fourth place last year. Long, difficult courses like TPC San Antonio are perfect for this sweet ball-striker and there is nobody in this field who will intimidate him.

Next best
Brooks Koepka 25-1
The greatest potential party-pooper for Chappell could be Brooks Koepka, who has rediscovered his swagger after a slow start to the year. Koepka ended 2016 in fantastic nick, but it was not until the WGC-Match Play last month that the mighty Floridian showed his quality again.

Koepka, who made a hugely impressive Ryder Cup debut last year, won all three of his group matches in the Match Play and smashed both Kevin Kisner and Jason Dufner by a 6&5 scoreline.

A last-16 defeat to Alex Noren was a surprise, but Koepka roared back at the Masters, improving his round score every day (74, 73, 71, 69) on his way to 11th place.

Koepka missed the cut by a shot in last year's Texas Open, but much better can be expected this time. His last trip to Texas ended in a playoff defeat to Garcia in the AT&T Byron Nelson. Koepka's A-game is better than that of anyone else in this field.

Other selection
Luke List 50-1
Complete a three-pronged attack with Luke List, who is looking increasingly likely to become a US Tour champion.

List is blessed with incredible natural power, which has helped him to 12 top-20 finishes in his last 36 US Tour starts. He was third in the Houston Open 17 days ago and did not do a lot wrong under final-round pressure.

TPC San Antonio seems a layout which should suit List, and his first two visits yielded shares of 46th and 29th. He returns this week as a much more confident character, well established on the US Tour and chasing trophies rather than dollars.

Others to note
Ryan Moore
The Ryder Cup star has not teed up in this event since finishing eighth in 2012. Confidence was restored with ninth place at Augusta and he should go well.

Patrick Reed
America's Hazeltine hero has been unable to spark since his Cup glory. Maybe a return to San Antonio, the city of his birth and where he was runner-up last year, is the required tonic.

Ryan Palmer
The Texan finished 11th in the Heritage after a strong weekend and has found form in time for one of his favourite assignments. Strong place claims.

Brendan Steele
The 2011 Texas Open champion is a regular on the San Antonio leaderboard and has been playing some rock-solid golf over the last eight months.

Charley Hoffman
The 40-year-old delivered a spectacular first-round 65 in the Masters before fading to 22nd spot. The defending champion has a magnificent record TPC San Antonio.

Jimmy Walker
The San Antonio man and 2015 Texas Open champion will not want for support. Has been suffering with energy-sapping mononucleosis, though, and been lacking sparkle.

Staking plan
K Chappell
2pts each-way 33-1 general
B Koepka
2pts each-way 25-1 general
L List
1pt each-way 50-1 Coral, Paddy Power

Texas Open
Course TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks Course), San Antonio, Texas
Prize money $6.2m ($1.116m to the winner)
Length 7,435 yards Par 72 Field 156

Course records – 72 holes 274 Adam Scott (2010), Martin Laird (2013). 18 holes 63 Matt Every (2012), Martin Laird (2013).

Course winners taking part Brendan Steele, Ben Curtis, Martin Laird, Steven Bowditch, Jimmy Walker, Charley Hoffman.

Time difference Texas is six hours behind the UK and Ireland.

Last week – The Heritage 1 W Bryan (70-1), 2 L Donald (40-1), T3 P Cantlay (66-), O Schniederjans (100-1), W McGirt (50-1), T6 B Gay (250-1), JJ Spaun (125-1), G DeLaet (100-1).

Course overview The Oaks Course was designed by Greg Norman (with the assistance of Sergio Garcia) and has been used for this tournament since 2010.

Adam Scott won there first before saying that the layout reminded him of sandbelt courses in Australia. There are plenty of deep bunkers, along with lots of penal scrubland, off the fairways.

Most holes are tight off the tee, others afford room for manoeuvre. The greens are undulating and tough to hold. Three of the four par-threes are 200-yards-plus with the 13th a beast at 241.

The first two par-fives (second and eighth) are over 600 yards apiece. The par-four fourth is the hardest hole of all. The par-fours of one and nine (where Kevin Na once carded a 16) are also difficult, but the 14th and 17th are excellent par-four birdie chances.

Not many players finish under par in this event and anything double-digits under always has an excellent chance of victory.

Story of last year Charley Hoffman fended off Patrick Reed, winning by a shot with a successful ten-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole.

Weather forecast Hot and humid, with moderate breezes. A strong Saturday morning thunderstorm could slow proceedings, before perfect Sunday conditions.

Type of player suited to challenge Crisp ball-strikers who find plenty of greens in regulation are typically favoured for this challenging assignment. Length is a serious asset in aiding GIR stats on a long course which is set for a Saturday morning soaking.

Key attribute Power

Chappell lost by a shot on his Texas Open debut as a US Tour rookie in 2011 and he tied for fourth place last year
E.W. Terms
Sky bet