The biggest week in golf is only a week away, but before we get to Augusta, there are plenty of large contests over on DraftKings and Fanduel for the Houston Open. The layout of the Golf Club of Houston is a fairly long 7,400-yard, par-72 with bentgrass greens. It’s clear that the organizers of the tournament try their best to give players some similar looks to what they’ll see next week at Augusta, as the rough is also forgiving similar to Augusta National.
For stats to key in on, I’ll be mainly weighting strokes gained: off-the-tee, par 5 scoring, and driving distance. The Country Club of Houston’s layout really allows guys to unleash their drivers and while there is a fair amount of trouble lurking off the fairway with water coming into play on over half of the holes, the lack of penal rough doesn’t put a hard premium on hitting fairways. Houston is also one of the easiest courses on tour to putt within 10 feet, which may be a reason why so many guys who typically struggle with the flat stick are able to contend at this event. Just look at the last few years with poor putters such as Russell Henley, J.B. Holmes, Paul Casey and Adam Scott being former winners.
While there are a host of elite players making the trip to Houston, this event has historically seen players who aren’t already qualified for the Masters win their way in via this event. It’s hard to quantify just how much motivation is a factor for some of the more elite players in the field, with their minds obviously looking ahead to next week. Phil Mickelson has even come out and said he uses this week to work on shots that he knows he’ll be hitting at Augusta.
The motivation factor and general roster construction makes me lean towards making a balanced lineup build for this week with guys like Daniel Berger, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Russell Henley and red-hot Luke List good candidates to anchor your lineups. While I won’t try to talk anyone off of playing elite players like Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Jordan Speith, or Phil Mickelson, it’s hard to justify their price tags if they aren’t necessarily 100% focused on winning rather than getting ready for a run at a green jacket.
There are a ton of interesting players in mid range, with great ball strikers such as Byeong-Hun An, Emiliano Grillo, Keegan Bradley, Thomas Pieters, and Lucas Glover all fitting the bill of guys who could be helped by the relative easiness of the greens. There’s also a fair amount of solid European Tour players in this range who should go overlooked in large field tournaments such as Peter Uihlien, Dylan Frittelli, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, and Martin Kaymer who returns from a wrist injury suffered at the Honda Classic.
Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
Par 5 Scoring (note: low eagle rate)
Birdie or Better Percentage
High-Priced Players to Consider
- Rickie Fowler – $11,500
- Luke List – $9,600
- Daniel Berger – $9,400
- Rafa Cabrera-Bello – $9,300
- Russell Henley – $9,200
Mid-Priced Players to Consider
- Byeong-Hun An – $8,700
- Keegan Bradley – $8,600
- Emilian Grillo – $8,500
- Jason Dufner – $8,300
- Thomas Pieters – $7,500
Value Players to Consider
- Jason Kokrak – $7,300
- Sean O’Hair – $7,200
- Grayson Murray – $7,200
- James Hahn – $7,100
- Martin Kaymer – $7,100
Check back tomorrow as I give you my favorite picks for cash games and tournaments.
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