US PGA Tour: The Houston Open

Golfer lines up iron shot

We preview the Houston Open set to take place at the Golf Course of Houston, Humble, Texas between 29 March and 1 April. 

Bubba Watson’s dramatic victory in the WGC bodes well for him in his quest for that third Augusta crown next week. And this event, which is prestigious enough in its own right, will present players with the final opportunity to hone their games ahead of the Masters next week. 

The likes of Justin Rose and Ricky Fowler will be looking to build on their already strong seasons while Jordan Spieth is the one top player curiously low-key in his preparations for Augusta. This will be the 13th renewal of this event, at a course that was specifically designed for this event.  

The Houston Open | 29 March - 1 April | Golf Course of Houston, Humble, Texas

Previously known as Redstone, the Golf Course of Houston was the first ‘from scratch’ design by Rees Jones. As reflected in the winning scores posted thus far, this isn’t exactly the toughest test on tour. The fairways are wide and there is little rough to really speak of. Perhaps the most pertinent issue this week in terms of preparation for Augusta is the greens. The Bermuda greens here are usually sped up in an attempt to simulate the conditions awaiting the players in Augusta next week. They will measure around 13 on the Stimpmeter, which should certainly help some players with their putting feel.

Russell Henley will be looking to defend his title in a surprisingly decent field this week. Many of the players who skipped the WGC Match-Play have earmarked this event as their final chance to prepare for the travails of Augusta. Henrik Stenson, Ricky Fowler and Justin Rose fall into that category.  Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth will hope to bounce back ahead of disappointing match-play results. This isn’t the easiest event to call, with many players more interested in working on facets of their game as opposed to winning the event outright.   

Past Winners
2017: Russell Henley (-20)
2016: Jim Herman (-15)
2015: J.B Holmes (-16)*playoff
2014: Matt Jones (-15)*playoff
2013: D.A Points (-16)

To Win Outright:
Justin Rose 10/1 | Ricky Fowler 10/1 | Jordan Spieth 11/1 | Phil Mickelson 11/1 | Henrik Stenson 12/1

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Value Bets

Luke List - To Win 28/1, To Place 6/1
List followed a T27 finish in 2016 with a T3 finish in last year’s edition, and his broader course statistics bear testament to his proficiency here. He also cokes with great form into this event, with top 30 finishes in each of his last five starts. That includes a solo 2nd at the Honda Classic and a T7 in his last event - the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He currently sits 11th on tour for Strokes Gaines Tee-to-Green and is 22nd for Scoring Average. The big hitter from Seattle should once again be a threat this week.   

Byeong Hun-An - To Win 40/1, To Place 17/2
This one is purely based on the fact that An has returned to form following a strangely subdued 2017. Though this is his first start here, his did finish 5th at last May’s Byron Nelson Classic- his last Texas start. Furthermore, he led the Phoenix Open last year through three rounds, and TPC Scottsdale shares many similarities with the course layout here. He is also in excellent form, with a 14th at Bay Hill, a 6th in Dubai and a 5th in the Honda Classic. He’s made five cuts in six this year and could be a force in a week where others may be playing more experimentally.  

Brice Garnett - To Win 100/1, To Place 22/1
Garnett was actually starting to put things together to some extent before last week’s triumph in a so-called ‘opposite event’. He had top 35 finishes in the Farmers Insurance Open, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Valspar Championship. Perhaps all he needed was that opportunity with the big boys gone to finally spur him on. Garnett's 4 shot victory in the Dominican Republic will give him that much sought after ingredient: confidence. He’s also done well in Houston before, with a T4 in 2014.  

The Man to Beat

Daniel Berger - To Win 28/1, To Place 6/1
This is one of those ones that does clearly come with a caveat. Berger was handsomely beaten by both Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter last week. But it’s clearly erroneous to try to couple stroke-play and match-play golf. The consistent Berger has managed four top 15 finishes in his last six events.  On top of that is his course form. Berger has a T5th and solo 5th in his last two appearances at the Golf Course of Houston. I think that he could be a force this week, particularly with the slick putting surfaces.  

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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