The Shell Houston Open | 31 March - 03 April | Golf Club of Houston
This week the Shell Houston Open tees off and with the Masters only a week away this event is definitely one to keep an eye on, as the similarities between the Golf Club of Houston (GCH) and Augusta are plentiful. That would probably explain why such a classy field has assembled this tournament which has traditionally been the perfect warm up for the first Major of the year. So where do these similarities lie? The first is with the greens. On both courses they are lightning fast and one can’t help but think that anyone who gets a feel for the greens at GCH will have a distinct advantage over the rest of the field at Augusta.
The fairways at GCH also seem to resemble those at Augusta. Measuring 7,441 yards, this course is long and tight and playing it should allow the field to ease into the challenge that follows. Accurate driving and iron play are most certainly the name of the game as trees and thick rough line the fairways waiting to swallow misdirected drives, whilst approaches need to be accurate and carefully thought out as just hitting the green is not enough, you need to hit it close to the pin. With the par 5’s ranking as some of the more difficult on Tour and the greens playing as fast as they do, don’t expect anyone to go to low here. Rather, this will be a tournament for the consistent players in the field and they should be rewarded. So who will win this week? Let’s have a look.
To Win Outright
Jordan Spieth: 6/1 | Rickie Fowler: 11/1 Henrik Stenson: 12/1 | Dustin Johnson: 14/1 | Phil Mickelson: 18/1
Henrik Stenson (12/1 a win, 26/10 a place)
Jordan Spieth seems to be playing erratically these days and at odds of 6/1 I’ll be avoiding backing him this week. With that in mind the first player who catches my eye is Stenson. He seems to be finding some form at just the right time and gave a good account of himself in the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he finished well and ended up T3. He has the game to hande this tough layout and the experience to avoid cracking under pressure. Each way on Stenson is the bet for me.
Patrick Reed (20/1 a win, 44/10 a place)
Patrick Reed was in fine form last week but an outstanding display by Dustin Johnson saw him edged out in the final 16 despite his best efforts. Be that as it may, he has been playing some great golf lately and he had no issue in the Valspar when he finished a respectable T7. He’ll be eager to keep that momentum going as he looks to the Masters and I’m confident that he has what it takes to handle this course. His all round game is almost flawless and he should handle the tight fairways and fast greens as well as anyone so don’t leave Reed out of your selections this week.
Graeme DeLaet (66/1 a win, 14/1 a place)
Graeme DeLaet is one of those golfers who can never be ignored and although I was confident that he would manage a Top 5 finish last week, he found himself just outside the Top 10 after a shaky start in Puerto Rico. He did hit more fairways than most in that outing though and his ability to drive the ball long and straight will go a long way in ensuring his success here. There are question mark over his ability to string together four rounds in the face competition like this but at this price he’s definitely worth backing each way.
Cameron Tringale (90/1 a win, 20/1 a place)
Last week we managed to tip a 50/1 winner and this week it looks like we may well go one better as Cameron Tringale is available at ridiculous odds of 90/1 in a tournament that he has thrived in over the past few years. In the last two installments of this he’s finished 5th and 4th respectively and prior to that he managed a few more Top 10’s. He looked good in the Arnold Palmer and probalby could have done a lot better than his eventual T27 finish but with the course form he has he can’t be ignored. Let’s just hope he can string four good rounds together. I’ll be backing Tringale each way, so should you.