Written By Fairway Jay on April 12, 2022
Scheffler wins Masters

The Lone Star state’s brightest star continues to shine.

Dallas resident Scottie Scheffler earned his fourth PGA Tour win in 2022, this time capturing his first major championship at The Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

Scheffler was the dominant player and created more memorable moments at this year’s Masters Tournament. Scottie built a 5-shot lead into the weekend and held a 3-shot lead playing with Australian Cameron Smith in the final group Sunday.

Scheffler’s 10-under par score of 278 was 3-shots better than runner-up Rory Mcllroy, who tied a Masters record on Sunday with a final round 64.

McIlroy (2nd), Justin Thomas (T8) and world No. 2 Jon Rahm (T27) are some of the greatest players to never win a green jacket.

But world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler now wears a green jacket as Masters champion and will be returning to Augusta for a lifetime, as a competitor and golf ambassador.

Since sports betting in Texas isn’t legal, fans weren’t able to bet on Scheffler. Had they been able to, he no doubt would have been a huge draw. And if the state ever legalizes online sports betting, if he continues to play this way, that will remain the case.

Scheffler shoots under par in every round

Scheffler was the only player in The Masters field to shoot under par in each round.

At the post-Master’s news conference, Scottie spoke highly of his caddie Ted Scott, who was on the bag of Bubba Watson for his two Masters victories.

“He just knows this golf course so well, and I trust him on the golf course. I mean I chipped it so good this week; had a lot of nice up-and-downs and excelled with my lob wedge. I stayed patient with Ted’s help. I just tried to execute good golf shots and I didn’t break my concentration until we got on to the green on 18.”

Scottie was asked by the media: You’re a Masters champion now. That means you get to come back for life. Let that sink in for a few seconds. How does that feel?

“That’s the coolest part about this whole deal. This is such a fun golf course. I mean it’s Augusta National. It’s about as cool as it gets. I just can’t — I can’t believe that I can come back for a lifetime and get to enjoy this golf course.”

“If you probably took a straw poll of the guys on Tour what golf tournament they would want to win, it would be the Masters.”

Scottie Scheffler’s meteoric rise continues

Scottie Scheffler is riding the hottest streak in golf since Tiger Woods was in his prime. Since mid-February, Scheffler has won:

  • The Phoenix Open
  • Arnold Palmer Invitational
  • WGC Match Play in Austin (that propelled Scheffer to the No. 1-ranking)
  • And now The Masters

Scheffler was the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2020. The former Texas Longhorn golf star had earned $8.7 million on the PGA Tour heading into 2022.

The tall Texan added $2.7 million to his bank account for winning The Masters, and Scheffler has earned $10.1 million since the start of the PGA Tour season — already the sixth-most ever in a single Tour season.

With four of the five biggest tournaments yet to be played in 2022, it could be a watershed financial year for Scottie Scheffler.

One of those is the PGA Championship on May 19-22 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Scheffler has been quoted as saying Southern Hills is his “favorite” golf course.

Scheffler Texas tidbits

The 25-year-old Scheffler’s favorite number is 13 and his favorite fruit is pineapple, just like mine.

He doesn’t drink coffee, and neither do I.

He likes Chipotle Mexican restaurant, and so do I (Chipotle peppers are popular in Tex Mex restaurants).

Scottie speaks one language, English, and uses bicentennial quarters as a ball marker when he plays golf.

Before attending the University of Texas, Scheffler attended Highland Park High School in Dallas, where he met his high school sweetheart and current wife, Meredith Scudder. Scottie shaped his golf game at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas.

Scheffler signed a multi-year deal with TaylorMade earlier this year, and in the bag of The Masters champion are TaylorMade P7TW irons and he hits a TaylorMade Stealth Plus driver.

But Scheffler also said in an interview a few years ago that he’s very afraid of heights, is not a good writer and isn’t very good at grammar and spelling.

So let me fill in the gaps and add to Scheffler’s portfolio and profile.

He better learn to enjoy heights, because he’s risen to the very top in the world of golf. His fans are growing, and Scottie has a strong sphere of influence, to which the man of strong faith says,

“Life is important to spend with people you enjoy. If you don’t have close, quality friends, I don’t think whatever you’re doing is important. So that would be my most important advice to someone. Find something you enjoy doing, and enjoy doing it with other people.”

Well said and well done, Masters champ.

Photo by David J. Phillip/Associated Press
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FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst. He reports, researches and writes on industry news and events providing insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. FairwayJay’s tee-to-green coverage and contributions are provided throughout the PlayUSA network. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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Written By Chris Imperiale on April 8, 2022
NASCAR's culture continues to change today, thanks in part to African American driver Bubba Wallace.

Some sports are continuing to grow and expand in regard to culture, especially in the last few years.

There’s no better example of this than in NASCAR, where a regional sport is starting to develop in several ways.

One of the biggest stories in 2021 was the emergence of an African American driver with Bubba Wallace. Not only did he go into the record books as the first African American to win a NASCAR race at its highest level since Wendell Scott in 1963, but he helped lead a movement within the sport.

Wallace spoke out about racial injustice in light of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. This led to changes directly to NASCAR policy, including banning Confederate flags at racetracks.

He’s not the only one, either.

Many other African Americans are finding their way into the sport and are trying to make doing that easier for future generations.

In addition to making some changes internally, there’s a recent surge of new celebrity ownership. With a couple of athletes and pop-culture stars becoming owners, there’s no telling where the sport is headed.

Let’s look deeper into the culture of NASCAR and how it’s changing in 2022.

The Brotherhood of NASCAR

Last year, NASCAR celebrated Black History Month with a docuseries about five African Americans who work on the pit crew for Chip Ganassi Racing.

The Brotherhood of NASCAR debuted on its YouTube channel and follows the team members around before the 2021 Daytona 500. The five pit-crew colleagues include:

  • Mike Metcalf
  • Jeremy Kimbrough
  • Kenyatta Houston
  • Jonathan Willard
  • Marshall McFadden

Metcalf, whom the others refer to as “Big Brother,” is one of the leaders of his squad. He got the nickname for his wisdom and willingness to help others, outside of being the oldest of his four siblings.

The former college football player at Appalachian State discussed the importance of relationships, family, and respect. Metcalf said:

“I’ve always tried to make that a priority: If the only thing we do is good pit stops, that’s cool. But if we elevate ourselves as men, husbands and fathers — people in the community — I think that’s the bigger win.”

His conversations with team members expanded as NASCAR implemented its support for social change. Metcalf and Chip Ganassi pit coach Shaun Peet gave diversity and inclusion sensitivity training to all of the NASCAR pit crews.

He talked about his experiences in trying to broaden the perspectives of many of those within the industry. Metcalf said:

“It’s tough because you’re talking to your peers that they may not want to hear or just may not have thought about. We’ve just had a lot of conversations over the years about, man, what could the sport look like if we had a better understanding of how to interact with all different types of fans and what opportunities we are missing because we’ve thought through the same lenses for so long. This is how we’ve always done it could be the biggest thing prohibiting us from moving the sport forward in a really powerful way. Just trying to give everyone more tools to think about.”

He realizes that it takes time to open up certain viewpoints, but progress is made through a “united” group.

African Americans in NASCAR

The other four pit-crew members echoed a similar sentiment about NASCAR culture moving forward with education on diversity.

Kimbrough also has a football background, having played in the NFL for the Washington Commanders. He broke through into the racing industry after completing the 2016 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program.

Kimbrough is now the tire carrier for Ganassi’s Kurt Busch.

He spoke about how he thinks the Brotherhood is beneficial. Kimbrough said:

“The exposure is doing a good job. It’s opening eyes to a lot of people who wouldn’t normally look at NASCAR. It’s opportunity and it’s a good way to get that exposure.”

Houston actually played a part as an extra in Will Farrell’s nod to NASCAR culture, Talladega Nights, where he met several pit members and began working in the industry. Through Peet, Houston got introduced to Ganassi’s head pit coach Phil Horton and its developmental program. He’s now in his 17th season on a NASCAR team.

Houston wants others to see his success and understand that it’s possible for them. He said:

“With me and my opportunity, now I can use that to show the guy that looks like me and has probably been through what I’ve been through that hey, if I can do it, you can do it, too.”

NASCAR culture grows to include more celebrity owners

The sport is getting more popular in different celebrity circles, as several athletes and musicians are joining NASCAR.

The most notable may be the greatest basketball player to ever live, Michael Jordan. He co-owns the 23XI Racing team with driver Denny Hamlin, while pop artist Pitbull is also in the owner’s circle. He’s partnered with Justin Marks and co-owns the Trackhouse Racing Team.

Jordan’s brand made headlines last season thanks in part to signing Wallace as his driver.

While participating deserves some praise, both teams are showing they’re here to compete and win. Both expanded to two cars, with Busch now in control of Jordan’s No. 45 Toyota.

The attention added from noteworthy new ownership like this can excite different audiences that NASCAR might not have reached previously.

Other celebrities are taking a different approach.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is in an advisory role to assist in growing NASCAR’s fan base. He started in that position in June 2021.

Rapper Post Malone recorded his music video for the track “Motley Crew” and included the likes of Wallace and others all racing.

It’s clear there are additional eyes on the sport and that could lead to even more exposure going forward.

Wendell Scott NFT collection

As mentioned, Scott was the first African American to earn a victory in the Grand National Series. He took the checkered flag at the Jacksonville 200 in 1963.

Scott was also the first African American to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015.

Now, Wendell Scott Ventures is bringing a 3D NFT collection to commemorate his legacy. It is released on Nifty Gateway and hosted by Authentik Studios.

The NFTs are the first of their kind, with an exact replica of Scott’s winning 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air included.

The idea was introduced at the Hall of Fame when an auction provided the first Scott NFT giveaway. This March, more fans could begin acquiring a piece of history through this digital opportunity.

Photo by AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
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Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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Written By Rylee Bailey on April 7, 2022
Houston Astros odds

It’s Opening Day, Astros fans. The 162-game marathon of a season is at last upon us.

All records are reset to 0-0 and fans are finally able to make it back to Minute-Maid Park after a long winter.

To begin the Astros’ 61st Opening Day, the Astros will face the Los Angeles Angels at Angels Stadium.

While sports betting in Texas still isn’t legal, when and if it does, that will add even more excitement to Astros baseball.

As we prepare for the much-anticipated start to Major League Baseball season, here are some fun facts you should know about the Houston Astros opening day history.

Astros broke Reds opening day home-field advantage, 1990

From 1876 to 1989, every Cincinnati Reds opener was scheduled at home. But twice, in 1877 and 1966, rain forced the team to play their first tilt on the road.

Finally, in 1990, their streak ended when the Reds opened the season on the road in a scheduled game against the Houston Astros.

2022 marks the second time Cincinnati will open the season on the road as they face the Atlanta Braves.

Bob Aspromonte scores first run in Astros history

On Apr. 10, 1962, the Houston Colt .45s took the field at makeshift Colt Stadium against the Chicago Cubs winning 11-2.

Budding star Bob Aspromonte was the first batter, hitting leadoff in the first inning on Opening Day. After singling to left field on the first pitch, Aspromonte scored the franchise’s first run when Al Spangler hit a triple. Aspromonte went 3-4 that day.

Astros sell out Opening Day in 15 minutes, 2004

Tickets for the Astros’ 2004 season opener sold out in 15 minutes after the team put regular-season single-game tickets on sale at 8 a.m.

The Astros would face Bary Bonds and the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day. The team went on to sell 54,000 single-game tickets that day.

Astros made American League debut, 2013

In a Sunday-night game at Minute Maid Park, the Astros defeated division-rival, the Texas Rangers, 8-2. This marked the franchise’s 4,000th win and its first Opening Day win since 2006.

The win was aided by Rick Ankiel’s three-run home run in the sixth inning.

Get Ready For MLB 2022 Season With Houston Astros Opening Day Trivia 2

Houston Astrodome opens in 1965, birth of AstroTurf

As the first domed stadium, the Astrodome was a marvel of sports architecture.

Built in the feverish pursuit of the impossible, there was one problem with the stadium – the lights. The clear Lucite panels that lined the dome created a glare causing Astros outfielders and their opponents to miss pop-ups as they were being blinded.

The first solution was to paint the ceiling to minimize the glare. But another issue arose as the lack of sunlight caused the grass to die.

The agrochemical company Monsanto was soon brought to the Astrodome to install its new synthetic grass product, “ChemGrass.” The installation was a great success.

Monsanto eventually capitalized on the popularity of its work in the Astrodome and renamed its grass replica AstroTurf.

Photo by Pat Sullivan / Associated Press
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Rylee Bailey is an award-winning freelance journalist from Texas. She is wrapping up her senior year at Southern Methodist University and has been writing since she was in high school. Previously, Rylee covered North Texas High School football for the Dallas Morning News and has bylines in Casino Player and the Kaufman Herald.

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Written By Tyler Andrews on April 6, 2022Last Updated on April 7, 2022
Ted Williams Texas Rangers 1972

In batting terms, Tom Vandergriff, long-time mayor of Arlington, Texas, had a .300 average when it came to establishing an MLB team.

He struck out in 1962 in luring the Kansas City A’s to Arlington.

He struck out again in 1968 in a bid to both Leagues to add an expansion franchise.

Then, in 1971, he got his pitch and connected on a deal that brought the Washington Senators to Arlington to become the 1972 Texas Rangers.

Opening Day 1972 represented the culmination of a long struggle to bring Vandergriff’s vision to life. And it would make Arlington more than just a midpoint between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Sports betting in Texas is not legal, but it’s not without want for its residents. Any hope for MLB gambling will have to wait until 2023 when new legislation may appear.

Tom Vandergriff, visionary

Photo by Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

The Vandergriff family moved from Carrollton, a small suburb of Dallas, to Arlington, itself a small rural area of about 7,500 people, in the 1930s when Tom Vandergriff was just a boy.

His interest in speech and communication propelled him into politics and he became mayor of Arlington in 1951 at the age of 25.

In 1953 he brought a General Motors assembly plant to Arlington, creating thousands of jobs. And he went on, in his 27-year tenure as mayor, to take Arlington from a rural area to a thriving city of more than 150,000. As he put it, Arlington would be the hyphen in D-FW.

A visit to Disneyland just after its opening in 1955 shaped Vandergriff’s vision for Arlington: to make it a tourist destination. He even petitioned Walt Disney to build his next park in Arlington.

Though Disney declined, Vandergriff prevailed over local developer Angus G. Wynne Jr. to build Arlington a rival park, and in 1961 Six Flags Over Texas opened its doors.

A keen eye for opportunity in Washington

At the time, Vandergriff had already been in talks to bring pro baseball to Arlington. And he made the move to develop the area surrounding Six Flags by building Turnpike Stadium, a county-owned minor league ballpark for the Double AA Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs.

While a major theme park and a minor league baseball team redefined Arlington, Vandergriff wasn’t going to settle until Major League Baseball had a home in his backyard.

Unable to make an in-road through the expansion process, Vandergriff decided that his best bet was to work with a struggling franchise, and Bob Short, the owner of the Washington Senators, turned out to be just the guy for Vandergriff.

Short had been threatening to leave town if the rent at RFK Stadium in Washington DC wasn’t lowered, and when Vandergriff came calling, he was happy to relocate to Texas.

So it was that after 20 years of civic development and negotiation, Vandergriff placed the final piece in his puzzle.

Texas Rangers, Opening Day 1972

The Texas Rangers’ first game in their new home didn’t go according to plans.

Originally, they were scheduled to open the season a week earlier than they did, but, in a first at the time, the MLBPA went on strike over pension benefits, resulting in a work stoppage of 14 days and a cancellation of 86 games.

The Rangers’ scheduled Opening Day of April 15 got pushed back by the work stoppage, and they were forced to start the season on the road, where they went 1-3.

They then came home on Apr. 21, 1972 to host the California Angels.

The ceremonial first pitch for any new team is usually a privilege bestowed on the team’s trailblazer, and, for the Rangers, Tom Vandergriff, undoubtedly, had that honor. As he threw it out, he told the crowd of 20,105:

“Let’s make our cheers heard all the way to Houston tonight.”

The crowd roared; they got the allusion. Houston Astros owner Judge Roy Hofheinz voted against relocating the Senators to Arlington. And, in a way, Vandergriff’s first pitch established the rivalry between the two teams. There’s no better way to boost fan engagement in TX than with a good old rivalry.

The cheers continued as Ted Williams, Red Sox legend and new manager of the Rangers, stepped on the field and accepted an honorary gift steeped in Texas bravado: a cowboy hat, boots, and gold cleats. (For the record, he was never seen again with those items on or about his person).

And, with that, the game began.

The game

The Rangers fans cheered as first baseman Frank Howard, a giant of a man and owner of at least three of the greatest baseball nicknames of all time (Hondo, The Washington Monument, and The Capitol Punisher), drove a first-inning slider off Angels starter Clyde Wright 480 feet out of the deepest part of the park.

He got an immediate standing ovation.

The Angels tied the game in the second on a couple singles and an error. But the Rangers went on to score two in the third and fourth and single runs in the fifth and sixth en route to a 7-6 win.

After the game, the Angels manager, Del Rice, echoing many player sentiments about the great baseball feel of the new stadium, said, “it’s a lot like Fenway Park in Boston.”

Overall, the stadium received rave reviews from all in attendance, including American League President Joe Cronin, who said:

“This is the best-lit park in the major leagues[…]It is remarkable that they put together such a complete product in so short a time. I was here several weeks ago and it didn’t look anything like this.”

Tom Vandergriff, MVP

The 1972 season didn’t turn out to be a winner for the Rangers, as they finished 54-100, but it didn’t matter. The people who had bet against them or looked elsewhere to expand baseball couldn’t deny that the Rangers delivered a great baseball experience.

The ballpark featured loads of Texas charm with a Texas-shaped scoreboard. This, combined with a team helmed by the greatest hitter in the game, was a solid product.

In that first season though, more than any player, the hard work put in by mayor Tom Vandergriff in making good on his promise to bring pro baseball to Arlington was the MVP performance.

Photo by RH/Associated Press
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Tyler is the Managing Editor of play-texas.com, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Lone Star State. He also contributes on similar topics for PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is Texas’s pathway to gaming legalization.

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Written By Tyler Andrews on April 5, 2022
NCAA athlete compensation and integrity

Mike Slive, who served as the commissioner of the SEC (2002-2015), coordinator of the BCS (2006, 2007), and Men’s Division I Basketball Committee chair (2007), testified to the following during legal hearings on the amateur status of NCAA athletes:

“[Amateurism] is just a concept that I don’t even know what it means.”

He said it again a little later: “You know, the term amateur I’ve never been clear on what is meant by amateurism[.]”

Slive passed away in 2018, but he sat through the first wave of the legal proceedings, chiseling away at one of the NCAA’s three pillars of identity: “satisfactory standards of scholarship, sportsmanship and amateurism”

The NCAA has always held that it doesn’t pay its players because they are amateurs — student-athletes, not athlete students. The NCAA’s highly-competitive sporting landscape succeeds because it is free from the distractions of money thrown at pro players through contracts and endorsement deals.

In this sense, it is purer than professional sports. College basketball players dive for balls, they make the extra pass, they take charges and they play full-court defense. All of these are hallmarks of the amateur spirit, the spirit of “team first.”

The NCAA thrives on this perspective: pure amateur athletes coming together to forge the team. But if the college player is an idealized symbol of this spirit, the NCAA, over the last 30+ years, has drained that symbol of its substance.

NCAA income expansion in the last 30 years

In 1985, Division I football and basketball raised $944 million and $41 million, respectively. And CBS paid $16 million to cover the March Madness tournament.

In 2016, Division I football and basketball raised $13.5 billion, and television rights to March Madness brought in $1.1 billion. The extravagant facilities at the top schools in the country reflect this exponential revenue growth. And in massive coaching salaries, especially for Power Five coaches.

However, when it comes to compensating the athletes, that revenue stream dries up. Currently, schools apply 29% of women’s basketball revenue to athletic scholarships for female athletes. The number is 8.9% for men’s basketball, and 8.1% for men’s football.

In any other industry in the US, this compensation structure for athletes would be considered, to quote Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, “flatly illegal,” a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Again, the NCAA’s defense: we do not pay our players because they are amateurs. They are, however, amateurs who bring billions of dollars to the schools, conferences and the NCAA on the backs of their play.

The other factor to consider in all of this is sports betting. Legalized sports betting in Texas could be massive, but how would it impact college athletics and athletes?

Legal battles over athlete compensation

Ed O’Bannon, a key member of UCLA’s 1995 National Championship team, brought the first major suit against the NCAA. He contended that companies compensate players for the use of their name, image, or likeness.

His claim stemmed from seeing a likeness of himself in the EA Sports video game NCAA Basketball ‘09. In O’Bannon v. NCAA (2014) the court ultimately ruled in his favor, establishing higher value athletic scholarships and a trust to be established for players based on years of eligibility.

UCLA’s Ed O’Bannon, April 1995, AP Photo/Susan Ragan

Then in 2021, in Alston v. NCAA, the Supreme Court unanimously extended the ruling of O’Bannon v. NCAA by removing restrictions on education-related scholarships for student-athletes.

It is a relatively small shift in the amount of revenue directed towards student-athletes. But the decision represents a harbinger of the changes that have continued to chisel away at the NCAA’s “amateur” label.

The Wild West of NILs

Since Alston v. NCAA, the NCAA has seen a jump in the number of student-athletes signing name, image, or likeness (NIL) deals. These kinds of deals allow the companies involved to pay athletes directly. It’s one way the NCAA is trying to work around compensating their athletes.

After a year of relatively wide-open NIL allowances for their athletes, Division I schools are reassessing their NIL policies. There is a wild west feel about the current landscape, as students are making business deals with no real support.

Sometimes students have deals brokered by schools and boosters. And, in some cases, may have their recruitment offers defined by NIL opportunities.

While this provides a sizable income boost to high-profile athletes, poignant negative consequences await students wading into the world of NIL deals. Leaving students to pursue this avenue as a means to compensate for what the NCAA has denied them, is a consolation.

However, it is one that could do more harm than good.

Black athletes disproportionately disadvantaged by amateurism

In March 2022, the National Collegiate Players Association (NCPA) fired the latest salvo against the NCAA. The NCPA, along with the Department of Education, filed a Human Rights complaint on behalf of Black athletes.

Their argument looks at the fact that Black athletes are predominantly involved in the most high-profile, high-earning collegiate sports in the country: women’s basketball, men’s basketball, and men’s football. Their complaint estimates an athlete is denied the following amount every year:

  • Women’s Division I Basketball: $24,000
  • Men’s Division I Basketball: $164,000
  • Men’s Division I Football: $185,000

These numbers are based on a fair market assessment of what employees make in industries where they generate the amount of income for their business as do college athletes.

The alarming truth of this finding is that the NCAA’s principle of amateurism most significantly disadvantages Black athletes in particular.

NCAA hiding behind amateurism

In numerous court cases where the NCAA’s athlete compensation was at issue, the courts found that the NCAA “nowhere defines the amateurism they claim consumers insist upon.”

At the Supreme Court level, Justice Neil Gorsuch stated this sentiment in his opinion on the case of Alston V. NCAA (2021) when he identified that the NCAA’s definition of amateurism “has changed steadily over the years.”

Despite the shifting nature of this term, it is the one shield the NCAA still uses to justify its business practices. These practices have resulted in:

  • Exponential revenue increases for collegiate sports over the past 30 years
  • The global influence of NCAA sports
  • The salary inflation of coaches and administrators at the top schools
  • World-class facilities at most major Division I universities

All of these shifts are commensurate with the expansion of the NCAA’s product and the massive income generated by collegiate sports.

All except one: the amateur athlete. That idealized, proletarian symbol of what we all want collegiate sports to be about. It’s about the game, hard work, team play, and definitely not about the money.

Photo by Kathleen Batten / Associated Press
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Tyler is the Managing Editor of play-texas.com, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Lone Star State. He also contributes on similar topics for PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is Texas’s pathway to gaming legalization.

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Written By Rylee Bailey on April 4, 2022
nVenue's technology helps sportsbooks drive engagement

For those looking to increase engagement among sports fans, there is no offseason.

Nearly half of all Americans consider themselves sports fans and 28% consider themselves avid fans according to a study conducted by global decision intelligence company, Morning Consult.

When fans aren’t shopping for jerseys or attending games, many are looking for real-time engagement opportunities with their favorite teams and players. Fantasy sports first changed the sports industry by allowing fans to engage with players outside of their favorite teams.

Now, a new generation of fans are engaged through sports betting, but traditional “outcome-based” betting is only the tip of the iceberg of this emerging market.

Dallas-based sports analytics startup nVenue is harnessing the power of sports machine learning and artificial intelligence to generate predictions and outcomes of each play in a game for sportsbooks and broadcasters to create “micro-betting markets” and data-driven content to engage fans.

It’s a bold new path in the Lone Star State, especially as Texas online sports betting could be on the horizon in 2023.

nVenue CEO Kelly Pracht said to PlayTexas:

“The worlds of viewer engagement and betting engagement are colliding right now. So, while I was thinking of increasing fan engagement as nVenue’s primary goal and knowing that betting would happen, others were clearly seeing micro-betting as the ultimate landing spot for us.”

With the advent of such technological advances improving sports bettors’ experiences, Texas will likely continue to lose a significant amount of revenue from gambling on sports.

What is micro-betting?

Micro-betting is a form of in-game betting.

DraftKings president and co-founder Matt Kalish explains micro-betting as “a bet on an event (within a game), that is about to happen and won’t last very long; like the next play or pitch.”

Micro-betting creates and increases fan engagement and investment across each pitch, snap, or free throw.

“We always knew that sports betting was coming largely because of the repeal of PASPA; I mean that had to happen,” Pracht said. “We thought it would take longer than we thought it would though. We thought fan engagement would come first and betting would come second for nVenue.”

Sportsbooks and media companies want in on the technology that makes these predictive analytics possible. That’s where nVenue comes in.

nVenue’s past, present and future

Before founding nVenue, Pracht worked with Hewlett Packard as a senior engineering manager and program management office lead. In 2017 HP sent Pracht to a supercomputing conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

During one of the seminars, Pracht found herself checking her phone for scores and updates on the Houston Astros game, and nVenue was born.

“I just had this moment of, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could apply this type of technology and some of these smart machines to work on sports data? I started coding that night just to see what could be done,” she said.

One year later, Pracht and her brother, Bruce Sears, now chief product officer for nVenue, created a sophisticated algorithm that could read live data and predict the outcome of a sequential play. At that point, nVenue only needed two more things: more time and real interaction with live data from the field.

Pracht continued:

“In 2019, we jumped from our careers and took a big risk. I said, ‘Let’s go for it. The time is right now.’ We built the algorithm and pored over it until it became the technology we have today.”

nVenue’s growing business

Since Pracht and her brother started nVenue, the company has expanded its team to include industry experts including Drew Williams (CFO/COO), Mik Stearns (CTO) and Christiana Yebra (CMO).

nVenue originally intended to market its technology directly to consumers as a smartphone app. However, once COVID-19 hit, nVenue transitioned to a B2B strategy focusing on partnering with sports networks and sportsbooks.

In 2021, the company participated in Comcast NBCUniversal’s inaugural SportsTech Accelerator program, marking one of the company’s first major milestones.

Following that, nVenue made its first on-screen debut during the 2021 playoffs. Pitch-by-pitch predictions aired live on television during an Oakland As and Chicago White Sox broadcast.

“I have launched hundreds of products into the world through HP and have probably a dozen patents in various states,” Pracht said. “But there is nothing as rewarding as seeing the fruit of your work that matches the real passion of your life being used in public in a compelling way. It was surreal.”

Following nVenue’s success on-air, the company announced raising a $3.5 million seed round co-led by KB Partners and Corazon Capital. The company seeks to expand its platform to more broadcasters and sportsbooks.

“The investment journey is hard and arduous. I have learned that finding the right investor(s) is the most important thing in the world,” Pracht said. “We found the right ones in KB Partners and Corazon. When you have the right investors behind you, it changes everything.”

This funding will be used to:

  • Expand its team from nine to 22 by the end of 2022
  • Open a physical office in Dallas for executives and a product team
  • Expand into additional sports, including the NBA, NHL, golf and others

nVenue CEO Kelly Pracht’s road to success

Pracht grew up surrounded by sports.

During her childhood in West Texas, she grew up with two brothers who taught her to throw a spiral by age 8 and a father who also served as a coach.

“I had been to more basketball and football games than most people have in their entire life by the time I was 10,” Pracht said. “For fun, we would go to sports stadiums on vacation, so my whole life has centered around the beauty of sports.”

Pracht also played basketball, softball and even boys baseball as a child. In high school, Pracht was on the tennis team, even placing in the state tournament while she and her family lived in Colorado. Pracht also played college basketball as a freshman.

nVenue is often recognized as a female-led startup. While she understands the importance of women pursuing careers in sports and tech, Pracht wants to make sure her gender doesn’t define her role and success with nVenue.

As Pracht said:

“The fact is, we have this great algorithm that does things that very few can do, and we’re a leading tech company. I love the focus to be on that, and my way of giving back is by being and encouraging and showing people that it can be done — showing young girls and really just anybody that it can be done.”

Photo by nVenue
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Rylee Bailey is an award-winning freelance journalist from Texas. She is wrapping up her senior year at Southern Methodist University and has been writing since she was in high school. Previously, Rylee covered North Texas High School football for the Dallas Morning News and has bylines in Casino Player and the Kaufman Herald.

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Written By Fairway Jay on March 31, 2022Last Updated on April 1, 2022
Texas golfers to watch at Valero Texas Open

Following Scottie Scheffler‘s third PGA Tour win in the past 45 days at last week’s WGC Match Play event in Austin, the Tour heads to San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open.

Fellow Dallas resident and Texas Longhorn Jordan Spieth is a golfer to watch this week as the defending champion, and he’s joined by four other top-20 players in the world at the 7,438-yard, par 72 TPC San Antonio.

The favorite to win this week is Rory McIlroy, with Jordan Spieth next for those interested in the odds and hopeful that Texas sports betting is legalized in the next year or so.

Other players to watch and popular picks this week include the 2019 Valero Texas Open champion, Canadian Corey Connors; and San Antonio resident Abraham Ancer, who lives just down the road from TPC San Antonio and practices there throughout the off-season.

The golfers ranked in the top 20 of the world rounding out the field include Bryson DeChambeau and 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, who returns to Augusta next week to defend his Masters title.

In total, 20 golfers playing in this week’s 100th-anniversary event at the Valero Texas Open will also play in the Masters next week at Augusta National. And any golfer not yet qualified to play in the Masters that wins this week, like former Oklahoma State Cowboy Rickie Fowler, would earn an invitation to play for the Green Jacket.

Player profile: Jordan Spieth

It may seem hard to believe that it’s been seven years since Jordan Spieth won his first major title at the 2015 Masters. Spieth shot 270 (-18) and tied the 72-hole record set by Tiger Woods in 1997.

Spieth became the second-youngest golfer (behind Woods) to win the Masters. His focus may be looking ahead as he shoots for his fourth major championship win, but Spieth has proven that he can Hook ’em and play his best in the state of Texas.

Just over 13 months ago, Jordan Spieth ranked 92nd in the Official World Golf Rankings and was struggling statistically and to gain solid ground on the course. That was his worst world ranking position since the summer of 2013.

But he turned it around and had one of his finest seasons, despite not winning a major. In the 2020-21 season, Spieth won the Valero Texas Open and had nine top-10 finishes, including runner-up at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth at Colonial Country Club.

Currently, the 12-time PGA Tour winner and Lone Star golfer ranks No. 17 in the world but has fallen off a bit this year.

Spieth won last year’s Valero Texas Open on the strength of his dialed-in wedge play, as he led the field in proximity hitting wedges from 50-125 yards. He also finished 2nd in this event at The Oaks course in 2015.

In 2019, Jordan was tied for the lead after sinking a 113-yard wedge – one of the most memorable shots in the Valero Texas Open (No. 7 at 1 minute mark). Si Woo Kim (+2800) made a hole-in-one on No. 16 in the second round of the 2019 event (4:00 mark) and was the Round 2 leader on his way to a T4 finish.

Jordan Spieth Shooting To Defend Title At 2022 Valero Texas Open 2

Spieth stats

In 22 rounds played at TPC San Antonio, Jordan Spieth ranks highly in this field in strokes gained.

  • No. 2 – SG: Total, Putting and Short Game
  • No. 5 – SG: Around the Green
  • No. 8 – SG: Tee-to-Green

Longshot Charlie Hoffman (+4600) ranks No. 1 in SG: Total, Tee-to-Green, Ball Striking and Approach over 40 rounds played at TPC San Antonio. Hoffman matched Spieth’s 6-under par 66 in last year’s final round. And Charlie finished runner-up and 2-shots behind Jordan.

Hoffman and Spieth are paired together along with Corey Connors to start the tournament Thursday and Friday.

Notable pairings for Valero Texas Open

As you watch the tournament on the Golf Channel Thursday and Friday or follow the Texas online event, here are some featured pairings:

Saturday and Sunday’s rounds are televised on the Golf Channel and also on NBC Sports.

  • Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar, Jason Day
  • Jordan Spieth, Corey Connors, Charlie Hoffman
  • Tony Finau, Abraham Ancer, Brandt Snedeker
  • Luke List, Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland

Other former Texas Longhorns to watch include:

  • Doug Ghim
  • Dylan Frittelli
  • Kramer Hickock
  • Beau Hossler
  • Jhonattan ‘Julio’ Vegas

And Southern Methodist University (SMU) is represented by 8-time PGA Tour winner and US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.

DeChambeau is returning from injuries and making just his second start on Tour since January. He’s still not 100%, or a golfer to count on when betting this week.

“Am I going fully at it? No. Not even close,” DeChambeau said ahead of the Valero Texas Open. “I won’t be able to go at it until probably Augusta time.”

See you next week for more memorable moments at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

Photo by Matt York / Associated Press
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FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst. He reports, researches and writes on industry news and events providing insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. FairwayJay’s tee-to-green coverage and contributions are provided throughout the PlayUSA network. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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Written By Fairway Jay on March 29, 2022Last Updated on March 30, 2022
Scheffler takes the win at WGC Dell-Match Play Event, No. 1 World Golf ranking

Scottie Scheffler was a golfer to watch heading into the $12 million World Golf Championships (WGC) Dell Match Play event at Austin Country Club.

Five days later, the former Texas Longhorn and Dallas resident is a Lone Star on top of the golf world.

Scheffler’s week included seven matches plus a playoff covering 120 holes played in the WGC. The most difficult match of his week included a 6-holes playoff against 2021 European Ryder Cup team member Matt Fitzpatrick.

Scheffler earned his third PGA Tour victory in less than two months after capturing his first Tour title at the Phoenix Open. The 25-year-old was emotional following his memorable WGC win.

“Definitely a lot of emotion coming off the green today,” Scheffler said in his post-round press conference. “I’ve thought about winning this tournament ever since last year, and it’s pretty cool to do that in front of my family after a long week.”

Scheffler displayed the Longhorns Hook ’em sign, showing support for the University of Texas and the fans who have supported him.

“I’ve got a lot of good memories being here in college. To be out here and win this golf tournament in front of the fans down here is really special.”

Scheffler dominates in WGC Match Play

If there were legalized sports betting in Texas, Scheffler would have been a very popular pick of Lone Star State residents. As it was, Scheffler was among the leading favorites and bets to win at +1,900 or 19/1 odds.

Texas residents who make the short drive from East Texas to LA or to Oklahoma can place sports bets legally in those states.

Scottie Scheffler finished runner-up in the WGC Match Play event last year in Austin. He entered this year’s tournament as the No. 5 seed in the field of 64 top golfers.

Scheffler was +190 to advance out of Group 5 against Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter. Scheffler went 2-1 in those matches over three days and advanced to the Round of 16 following the 6-hole playoff win over Fitzpatrick.

From there, here were Scheffler’s results on the way to winning $2.16 million with his championship round win over Kevin Kisner, the 2019 WGC Match Play champion:

  • Round of 16: Scheffler wins 1-up vs 2021 WGC – Match Play champion and No. 12 seed Billy Horschel
  • Quarterfinals: Scheffler wins 3 & 2 vs No. 42 seed Seamus Power
  • Semifinals: Scheffler wins 3 & 1 vs No. 8 seed Dustin Johnson
  • Final: Scheffler wins 4 & 3 vs 2019 Match Play champion and No. 29 seed Kevin Kisner

Scheffler is the youngest WGC Match Play champion at 25 years old and nine months.

Scheffler moves to No. 1 in golf

Scheffler’s rapid rise up the world rankings started with his strong play in 2020, which earned him PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. He continued playing well enough in 2021 to earn a spot on the US Ryder Cup Team. Scottie was the second-youngest player on the American squad and was ranked No. 21 in the world at the time.

Scheffler entered 2022 ranked No. 12 in the world and rose to the top 10 following his Phoenix Open win. Then went up to top 5 after capturing the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The remarkable run to the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world has Scottie Scheffler a World Golf Championships winner.

“I grew up at Royal Oaks and wearing long pants to go to practice because I wanted to be a professional golfer,” Scheffler said. “I dreamed of being out here. I’ve always been fiercely competitive, and I enjoy the challenge of playing out here every week. The rankings never really crossed my mind, but just competing out here is really fun for me and just being able to win tournaments is pretty awesome.”

Scheffler will pass on playing in this week’s Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio. However, fellow Dallas resident, Texas Longhorn and 3-time Major champion Jordan Spieth will complete as defending champion.

Then starting on April 7, it’s the Masters at Augusta National, which is sure to provide more memorable moments. Scheffler’s odds to win the Masters have improved from 25/1 to 16/1 following his WGC Match Play victory.

Scottie has finished inside the Top-20 in each of his last five Majors Championship starts. That includes finishing tied for 18th last year at the Masters, shooting 1-under par for the prestigious major championship in Augusta, Georgia.

Scheffler will be shooting for his first major title and Green Jacket, joining four major championship winners who have never won the Green Jacket or the Masters — Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.

Photo by Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press
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FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst. He reports, researches and writes on industry news and events providing insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. FairwayJay’s tee-to-green coverage and contributions are provided throughout the PlayUSA network. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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Written By Darren Cooper on March 29, 2022
Texas sports betting revenue

Gambling could be big business in Texas. Now there is an idea of just how big.

Dave Forman, the senior director of research at the American Gaming Association, said Texas could be generating $1.3 billion off legalized sports betting every year. That’s billion, with a B.

Sports betting is illegal in the state. The last failed attempt to legalize Texas sports betting was in 2021.

It was then that multiple bills were proposed in the Texas Legislature, but none ever saw the light of day. It is likely to become an issue in the 2023 state elections.

“Texans are certainly gambling today,” Forman said in a report by the Beaumont Enterprise.

“They’re just doing so with illegal offshore operators or bookies who have no regulatory oversight, skip out on taxes and do not offer any protections for the consumers, wagers or games.”

Regulated sportsbooks in the United States differ from offshore (or unregulated) sportsbooks because they can guarantee secured deposits, ensure proper withdrawals and also promote responsible gambling measures.

But how did the AGA get $1.3 billion?

Forman doesn’t exactly say how he arrived at that figure, but PlayTexas has done a little math and can make an educated guess where the number came from.

Texas ranks second in the United States with approximately 29 million citizens. California, the biggest state by population, does not sanction legal sports wagering.

However, New York does, and it recently joined the legalized sports betting wave in the US. New York’s population of 19 million makes it a good sample size for potential sports gambling revenue for Texas.

The latest numbers from New York recently showed NY online sports betting operators collecting $428 million in handle for the week of March 14-20 alone (March Madness).

You read that right, $428 million in one week

Overall, the total tax revenue from sports betting in New York is $153.3 million for this calendar year, and that’s at a 51 percent tax rate. It’s unlikely Texas’s would be that high.

Project the numbers forward — since we’re through a third of the year — and New York could be looking at a total of $600 million in revenue for 2022 when it’s over.

And that’s with 10 million fewer people than Texas and at an extremely high tax rate.

The battle for legal sports betting in Texas

We know you have heard this before. The big figure in legalizing gambling in Texas is Miriam Adelson, the widow of former Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson.

She’s created a PAC (Political Action Committee) that has begun to lobby multiple politicians with an eye on gambling legalization. Adelson was looking to get the measure placed on a ballot for Texans to approve.

A recent poll commissioned by the Dallas Morning News showed 43 percent in favor of allowing sports betting, 31 percent ambivalent and 26 percent opposed.

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia currently have legalized sports betting, 18 allow it online.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said in 2021 that he wants legal sports betting in Texas.

It’s not just Cuban and the Mavs, either.

Other Texas sports teams have said they’ll be at a competitive disadvantage without legal sports betting in Texas.

The momentum to finally bring Texas online sports betting is building. Is it enough to push the state legislature and bureaucrats is a separate question.

It is estimated that Texans already spend $2.5 billion on gambling operations in other states.

What do other states do with gambling revenue?

Let’s look at the neighboring states and what they do with their lottery proceeds. In Louisiana, which allows sports betting in certain parishes, $207.5 million of lottery revenue in 2021 went to the state treasury fund for public education.

A study by the Tulsa World in 2019 showed that the Oklahoma lottery made an average contribution of $66.4 million to the state, which was far below original projections but still a healthy chunk of the state’s education budget.

In New Mexico, an annual report posted from 2017 showed that from 1996 to 2017, the state sent $738.7 million to public education.

The Texas Lottery is approaching its 30th anniversary. Then-Gov. Ann Richards bought the first ticket on May 29, 1992. The Texas Lottery has contributed $28.5 billion to the Foundation School Fund.

The lottery is the only form of legalized gambling in Texas.

Would Texas really get billions in sports gambling revenue?

Statistical projections never quite work out. Forman of the AGA notes the potential of the Texas market, but if — and when — Texas approves online sports betting, a big portion of the bettors will stay with their local bookmakers or unregulated sites. That’s money that Texas will never see.

The exact numbers spent there are unknown — hence the term unregulated. But the New York numbers are key in understanding just how much Texas might be missing out on.

Photo by Ron Jenkins / Associated Press
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Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He’s won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

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Written By Fairway Jay on March 22, 2022Last Updated on March 23, 2022
Texas golfers to watch at Dell Match Play

Former Texas Longhorns Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth are among the leading favorites and contenders heading into this week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play event.

They are also the local fan favorites in the match play tournament played at the Pete Dye-designed Austin Country Club. The event provides a change in the style of golf versus the weekly stroke-play events on the PGA Tour.

The 2022 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play will see the golfers compete in a round-robin format for three days with the 16 group winners advancing to a single-elimination format on Saturday and Sunday.

This is the sixth year that Austin Country Club is holding this World Golf Championships Match Play event.

  • Date: Mar. 23-27, 2022
  • Par: 71 / Yardage 7,108
  • Purse: $12 Million

Every player earns a paycheck this week, with the last-place finisher earning $40,000.

The purse increased from $10.5 million to $12 million this year, and players who get out of the round-robin stage and into the final bracket of 16 earn a minimum of $220,000. Losers in the quarterfinal round get $386,000, then the four semifinalists have matches to slot the top four finishers.

This year’s WGC – Match Play winner receives $2.1 million, runner-up $1.32 million, third place $852,000 and fourth place $685,000.

WGC-Dell Match Play Bracket

Top golfers in the spotlight at WGC-Dell Match Play

Both Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth live in Dallas and played golf at the University of Texas. The two former Longhorns were part of the 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup-winning team.

If there were legalized sports betting in Texas, both would get attention from golf bettors in the Lone Star State.

Scottie Scheffler

Seeded No. 5 in this year’s WGC Match Play event, his opponents in the opening Group Stage round-robin format include:

  • Matthew Fitzpatrick (20)
  • Tommy Fleetwood (41)
  • Ian Poulter (59)

Scottie Scheffler had a strong showing in his debut performance at last year’s WGC Match Play event. He was seeded No. 32 and advanced to the finals before falling to No. 34 Billy Horschel, who had 80/1 odds to win the event.

In the Quarterfinals, Scheffler slew the dragon and current world No. 1 Jon Rahm as an underdog. Scottie was sizzling hot with his shots and putting stroke to go 3-up through five holes in his way to a 3 & 1 victory.

In the semifinals, Scheffler was the betting favorite over 2019 Match Play runner-up Matt Kuchar, and Scheffler earned a 1-up victory. On to the finals, and Scheffler showed well again as the favorite, but this time in a 2 & 1 defeat to Billy Horschel.

Scottie Scheffler was the 2020 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, and he’s risen to be a top 10 golfer in the world. He’s now a 2-time winner on Tour this year having won the first PGA TOUR event of his career at the Phoenix Open.

Then earlier this month, the 25-year-old captured the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida. Scheffler is now No. 2 on the PGA Tour money list this season with $5.3 million in golf earnings.

Scheffler leads the FedEx Cup Standings, and his stats profile on Tour this season is strong.

  • 4.90 per round – Top 5 Birdie Average
  • 67.87 – Top 10 Scoring Average
  • 71.56 – Top 15 Greens-in-Regulation
  • 308.9 – Top 25 Driving Distance
Scheffler And Spieth: Top Golfers To Watch At WGC-Dell Match Play In Austin 2

Jordan Spieth

Seeded No. 11 on the other side of the bracket, he is joined in the Group Stage by 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott (32), 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (46) and 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley (60).

A review of the golf stats performance charts shows both Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth have had some success in their old college town.

Jordan Spieth has a strong record in the WGC Match Play event at Austin despite not winning or making the finals. The 3-time major winner has played in the event every year in Austin since 2016, and his finishing positions are T9, T30, T17, T24 and T8 in 2021.

In a tight quarterfinal match against Matt Kuchar, the players were all-square through 16 holes after Spieth missed the opportunity to take the lead on 16 just skimming his birdie putt by the hole. Kuchar made a 6-foot putt on 18 to win the match, 1-up.

Jordan Spieth comes off a big bounce-back season a year ago when he won his 12th PGA Tour title in the Valero Texas Open. The 28-year-old had six top-5 finishes in 2021 that included a T3 at the Masters, where he won a Green Jacket in 2015 at age 21.

This season, Spieth has not been as sharp and his stats are not top-of-the-leaderboard yet, but he did finished 2nd in the AT&T Pebble Beach tournament in February.

Spieth’s short game strength and putting prowess on Bermuda greens make him a threat again this week. Jordan ranks top 30 this season in driving distance (308.6) and Greens-in-Regulation (70.6), but his short game strength hasn’t delivered to his standards yet.

Spieth’s scoring average is 71.5 this season to rank outside the top 150 players on the PGA Tour.

Recent WGC Match Play winners and runner-ups

  • 1. Billy Horschel, 2. Scottie Scheffler (2021)
  • 2020 Cancelled
  • 1. Kevin Kisner, 2. Matt Kuchar (2019)
  • 1. Bubba Watson, 2. Kevin Kisner (2018)
  • 1. Dustin Johnson, 2. Jon Rahm (2017)
  • 1. Jason Day, 2. Louis Oosthuizen (2016)

Other golfers with Texas ties to watch at WGC-Dell Match Play

While Scottie Scheffler enters the WGC Match Play event ranked No. 5 in the world and Jordan Spieth No. 15, there are some other golfers with Texas ties who are among the top 30 in the world.

Abraham Ancer

Ancer was born in McAllen, Texas and raised in Mexico. He currently resides in San Antonio. The former Oklahoma Sooners golfer currently ranks No. 19 in the world and has finished top 20 in each of the last two WGC-Match Play events in Austin.

He picked up two Group Stage wins last year but lost to Kevin Streelman, who won the tiebreaker to advance.

Patrick Reed

Reed was born in San Antonio and lives in Houston. He currently ranks No. 28 in the world and has twice made it to the Round of 16 in 2016 and 2018.

In last year’s WGC-Match Play event, Reed finished T28 after picking up 1.5 points but coming up short in the Group Stage with his round-robin pod won by Bubba Watson.

Sergio Garcia

Garcia currently lives in Austin with his wife, who he married in 2017. Golf has been good for Garcia, and so have the endorsements for the 2017 Masters champion.

Garcia’s wife is the reason they live in Texas, as she is former Longhorns golfer and previous Golf Channel reporter Angela Akins. She is the daughter of former Texas Longhorns QB Marty Akins, and cousin of former New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees.

Sergio is currently ranked No. 49 in the world and has three top-10 finishes in the WGC-Match Play event the last three years. He got through the Group Stage in 2021 and then beat Mackenzie Hughes 2 & 1 in the Round of 16 before losing to Victor Perez, 4 & 3.

To advance to the weekend Garcia had to get through his Group Stage of:

  • Collin Morikawa (2)
  • Jason Kokrak (22)
  • Robert MacIntire (61)

Next week it’s the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, where Jordan Spieth will defend his title ahead of The Masters starting on Apr. 7.

Jordan Spieth is currently among the leading online sportsbooks top 5 favorites to win the 2022 Masters with odds of 15/1 or less. Scottie Scheffler has the odds to win his first Green Jacket of 25/1.

Photo by David J. Phillip / Associated Press
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FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst. He reports, researches and writes on industry news and events providing insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. FairwayJay’s tee-to-green coverage and contributions are provided throughout the PlayUSA network. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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