Houston Open: Preview and Tips

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Houston Open, Golf Club of Houston

Course

After the excitement of a match play event last week, the PGA Tour is back to its traditional format at the Houston Open. Set in Humble, Texas, the Houston Open will be hosted by the Golf Club of Houston.

The course is a relatively long 7400 yard Par 72 which was originally designed by Rees Jones. This year will be the tenth year in succession that the course has hosted this tournament.

There is going to be a lot of talk about how the course tries to imitate Augusta in its layout. This is true to some extent as the courses are of similar length, feature overseeded Bermuda grass greens, and have a similar length of rough for players to contend with.

There are however some stark differences between Augusta and the Golf Club of Houston, primarily in the lack of undulation that the greens in Augusta are so famous for.

The weather is going to be a very important aspect with which to contend with this weekend. Wind is almost always stiff at this course and so players who can cope with blustery conditions usually standout.

Tournament Overview

The tournament was won by D.A. Points in 2013, Matt Jones in 2014, J.B Holmes in 2015, Jim Herman in 2016, and Russel Henley in 2017.

A look at this list of past winners suggests that most of the players that do well get a lot of distance from the tee. Putting well is also absolutely essential to doing well. The Wolf also advises punters to pay close attention to tee times since the wind can vary at different times of the day.

The fairways on this course are fairly forgiving but there is a lot of water that is included in the course layout. Players need to be careful that they do not forego accuracy in the quest for distance since that can be fatal to their chances.

Stats that Matter

The Wolf is going to be looking at the following stats this weekend to try and figure out which players have the best shot at winning:

  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Par 4 Scoring
  • Bogey Avoidance

The course record for this tournament is -22 shot by Vijay Singh way back in 2002. Ever since the Houston Open shifted to the Golf Club of Houston, though, no player has scored better than -20 by Phil Mickelson in 2011 and Russel Henley in 2017.

Depending on the wind conditions, the scores here have tended to be around -16 on average and that is the ballpark that the Wolf is backing the winner to be in this year as well.

Russel Henley was 4th in Driving Accuracy, 29th in Driving Distance, 4th in Green in Regulations and 1st in putts per Greens in Regulation when he won here last year.

Predictions

The Wolf’s favorite to win this tournament is Phil Mickelson at $12.00. Mickelson has been red hot this year and loves to play at this course. He has traditionally been at his most focussed in the weeks leading up to the Masters and believes in playing his hardest to get in the best form possible. With a win at WGC Mexico and three top-5 finishes before that, he is already in spectacular form, to be honest.

Mickelson is 2nd in Strokes Gained: Putting, 7th in Par 4 Scoring, and 17th in Bogey Avoidance. He also has a victory at this course.

For the value pick, the Wolf is backing Daniel Berger at $21.00. Berger is priced pretty attractively amidst a field where some of the more fancied names are struggling for form. Berger has all the ticks in the box to do well at this course and the stats bear that out as well.

He is 29th in Strokes Gained: Putting, 58th in Par 4 Scoring, and 54th in Bogey Avoidance. Daniel Berger has the combination of distance and accuracy that the Wolf is looking for. His form with putter has also been exceptional of late. As someone who manages the wind pretty well, Daniel Berger is a definite contender this week.

The long shot for this tournament according to the Wolf is defending champion Russell Henley at $26.00. Henley absolutely loves this course and has always performed well here. He is one of the best putters on the Tour but has not been in good form of late, something that explains his odds.

Putting, though, is something that can come together at any point in time. Just take a look back to the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the havoc that Rory created with his putter.

Henley is 104th in Strokes Gained: Putting, 88th in Par 4 Scoring, and 146th in Bogey Avoidance. These are not the best stats admittedly but the Wolf has a hunch that we could see the best of Russell Henley this weekend.

Recommended Bets

Tournament Winner

Best: Phil Mickelson ($12.00)

Value: Daniel Berger ($21.00)

Roughie: Russell Henley ($26.00)

72 Hole Match Bets

Spieth vs Rose: Jordan Spieth ($1.90)

Fowler vs Mickelson: Phil Mickelson ($1.90)

Berger vs Kuchar: Daniel Berger ($1.82)

 

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