The big news this week is the change in schedule for this event. Previously held the week before The Masters, the Houston Open was used as a primer for players as they’d head to Augusta National. The superintendent and event coordinators would mimic the way Augusta plays in order to draw bigger names to this event. All that changes this week as this is now just another stop for aspiring golf pros, and while I don’t know for sure if the course will be setup the same or not, I doubt they have it play as fast as it has in the past.
Winds are always a key factor in Texas, and this week should be no different. The course itself is straightforward as the fairways are wide and the greens are large. The rough should be up a bit compared to the past as well as there’s not a major with short rough to prepare for. The Par 5’s make up the four easiest holes on the course, so birdieing these will be imperative if our players want to win the event. Conversely, the Par 3’s are the four hardest holes on the course and making par on these holes could be just as important.
If the wind doesn’t kick up, we could see scores reach twenty-under, but if it howls, we should expect more of the -13 to -15 range. With a lot of the upper echelon of talent taking this week off, I’d expect to see a first-time winner come out of this group come Sunday.
- The Course
- Golf Club of Houston
- Par 72
- 7,400 yards
- Bermuda greens
- Location: Houston, TX
- Corollary Courses/Performances: Normally Augusta National is the comp, but with the schedule change it’s tough to say if they’ll shave down the green surrounds or not
- Past Champions:
- 2018: Ian Poulter -19 in a playoff over Beau Hossler
- 2017: Russell Henley -20 over Sung Kang
- 2016: Jim Herman -15 over Henrik Stenson
- 2015: JB Holmes -16 in a playoff over Jordan Spieth & Johnson Wagner
- 2014: Matt Jones -15 in a playoff over Matt Kuchar
KEY STATS TO TARGET
- Strong Emphasis – SG: APP, Birdies or Better, Par 5 Scoring
- Important – SG: P, Par 4 Scoring 350-400 yards, APP 200+, APP 150-175 yards
THIS WEEK’S SUGGESTIONS
Russell Henley (DK $10,100)
- History: 8th– Win – 5th– 4th
- Form: 37th– DNP – 54th– 57th
- Stats: 124th– SG: OTT, 29th– SG: APP, 113th– SG: P, 28th– SG: T2G
- Analysis: Expecting another Top 10 finish out of Henley seems like a huge ask this week, but anything inside the Top 30 should be attainable considering he’s in form through the short season and has elite course history. He could probably play the course with his eyes closed and still make the cut, so play him in cash and fade in GPPs, because his ownership is sure to be high even at this price.
Daniel Berger (DK $10,400): 18th – 5th – 5th – 25thover the last four years here and it makes sense as the course is primarily a bomb & gouge type of course and he hits it well off the tee and putts better on bermuda greens. He has yet to see any kind of ownership in cash or GPPs yet this season, so I doubt that changes drastically this week.
Keegan Bradley (DK $9,000): 43rd– 15th – MC – 5th over his last four years here and he did get through all four days last week (finishing DFL), but prior to that he finished 24th at the Military Tribute. He’s long off the tee, an excellent ball striker and a much better putter on bermuda greens than he has been historically, so I think he’s worth a shot in all formats this week.
Brian Harman (DK $10,600)
- History: DNP – MC – 52nd– MC
- Form: 18th– DNP – 14th– 3rd
- Stats: 39th– SG: OTT, 156th– SG: APP, 76th– SG: P, 79th– SG: T2G
- Analysis: Harman’s had a rough go at the Golf Club of Houston over the years, so maybe the change in schedule will be a betterment to his game. He’s sneaky long off the tee for a short stack, he’s a good putter and decent enough ball striker where I’d assume, he’d have a better record here than he does. His form speaks for itself, which could mean a promising finish for the first time in Houston.
Lanto Griffin (DK $8,000): 18th – 17th – 11th – 13thsince beginning the new season is a great start for Lanto. He’s a scorer which is always helpful when targeting players and he’s shown a consistency during the last month (plus) of being able to hang around for four days and get us the finishing place bonus we need in both GPPs and cash games. He missed the cut here last year, but as we’ve seen, his game has progressed quite well since then.
Robby Shelton (DK $7,900): 42nd– 52nd – 28th– 7th since the beginning of the new season shows us the full spectrum on Shelton. He has yet to miss a cut (knock on wood) and has played all four days every week using an array of skills (or lack thereof). At the Safeway he had his worst ball striking performance to date, and still made the weekend (so I’m not too concerned about him missing the cut). In Texas, he’s missed the cut at the Byron Nelson and finished 16th at Valero so I probably prefer him as a GPP play this week.
Other Form Horses: Sebastian Munoz (DK $9,400), Harris English DK $8,900), Richy Werenski (DK $7,700)
Kevin Chappell (DK $7,900)
- History: DNP – 44th– MC – MC
- Form: DNP – 40th– DNP – 47th
- Stats: Didn’t play during 2019 season
- Analysis: Chappie dusted off the clubs a few weeks ago, started off with a decent opening round and then fired a 59 heading into the weekend. That’s where his highlights end from his debut after sitting out all of the 2018-2019 season due to surgery. It’s also all I needed to see to fire him up again this week as he’s made the cut in 50% of his appearances here (best showing was 6th) and has the ideal game for this course.
Luke List (DK $8,500): 24th– 3rd – 27th over his last three years here and finished T13 last week after missing his last two cuts in a row. List’s game seems perfect for the course because of his length off the tee and ball striking ability. He’s shown us he can actually make putts on bermuda grass greens and outside of Stenson, there’s minimal elite competition. He’ll probably be a chalky play because of his history, last week’s result and Pat Mayo talking him up this week.
Grayson Murray (DK $6,900): People still don’t like to play this guy so we’re going to. He’s basically List (long off the tee, good ball striker, but a better putter) and will come in at a fraction of the ownership this week making him an ideal GPP target at a lower cost as well. His form sucks, but he finished 14th& 55th in two appearances at this event.
Honorable Mentions: Scottie Scheffler (DK $9,900), Bud Cauley (DK $8,600), Martin Laird (DK $7,800), Talor Gooch (DK $6,700)
CORE GPP PLAYS
Henrik Stenson (DK $11,400): Course horse whose never won this event, but he’s actually been a strong start in PGA Tour events when he’s the event favorite – something he has yet to do on the European Tour. 6th last year, 2nd in 2016 & 2013 and 3rd in 2009 gives us the upside we would need to play him and I’m sure many people will go with balanced builds versus a star and scrubs approach this week.
Cameron Champ (DK $10,800): First timer at this event, and he missed the cut following his win at the Safeway, but I haven’t heard much about how his grandfather’s health, so this suggestion comes with some risk. If word comes out that his grandfather has passed away, then we obviously wouldn’t be playing him as he’d be a sure bet to withdrawal, but if not, he looks like an ideal play considering his length off the tee and ability to provide a ton of upside in his scoring.
Kyle Stanley (DK $9,300): Long off the tee, excellent ball striker and a HORRENDOUS putter. We’re in peak #brand mode with the KFS suggestion this week coming off his first made cut of the season (48th). He finished 8th here two years ago which followed a 19th place finish, which is all I need to know about his upside.
This is a good week to make a bunch of lineups using the Top 5 or so priced players and mixing in the handful of value plays listed in this writeup. If Stenson doesn’t win this week, he should come Top 5, and as I mentioned before, I think this is a week where someone gets their first PGA Tour win.
Thanks for reading and good luck this week from the FGI team!
- Pari (@hitthehighdraw)