Houston Open outrights and matchups betting preview

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With only one week left until the Masters, a few of the top players in the world take back to the course to get some final prep work in before heading east to Augusta. After a week of a field with only one golfer inside the top 50 of the world rankings, this week in Houston will feature some of the biggest names in the game with 8 of the top 25 in the world teeing it up. Another addition to this week’s event is that it will be the first tournament since the Covid pause that will feature fans on the course. Memorial Park Golf Course will offer a capped number of 2,500 fans per day to walk the grounds. 

The field

As mentioned prior, this week will host some of the premer names in golf as they look to put together a final few rounds of prep before the Masters. The betting board starts off with Dustin Johnson, Tyrell Hatton, and Brooks Koepka. Johnson is currently at the top of his game, not finishing outside the top 12 in his last six starts, which has included winning the Tour Championship. 

Other marquee names in attendance this week will be Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, and Adam Scott. Sergio Garcia, who has a win this swing season, will also be competing. A collection of young, talented golfers in the mix are Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland, and Corey Conners.

While most of the world’s top 10 golfers will be doing their Masters prep away from the course, this week should still offer some drama with a few heavy hitters hopefully in the mix come Sunday.

The course

For the first time in this tournament’s history, the event will take place at the public course of Memorial Park. Typically this event is played at Houston GC but moving forward it will be played at this newly renovated venue. The course is a par-70 that will play just over 7,200 yards. Water will be in play on four of the holes, there is a limited amount of bunkers for the golfers to deal with, and the greens are made from Bermuda. As far as a breakdown of the holes, there will be three par-5s and five par-3s. Three of these par-3s will measure over 200 yards which should play as some of the harder holes for the week.

Views of the course

There was talk coming into the week that the 1st hole which is typically a par-5 for the public would be a par-4 on the card but that is not the case so there should be plenty of eagle opportunities on the 522-yard hole throughout the week. The area around the greens is mowed down fairly short which should put an extra emphasis on short game. The majority of the holes will favor the golfer who can hit a draw off the tee; moving the ball from right to left. This is a theme that we typically see around Augusta National as well which will fit nicely for some extra Masters prep. Long par-4s will be one of the  themes throughout the event with holes 4 and 18 playing right around 500 yards. 

With this being a public course, the fairways are wider than normal and there is not too much trouble off the tee. Even slightly wayward drives into the trees could still present clear approaches into the greens. With no course history to go off of, we will be relying on historical stats more than prior weeks. It appears that solid drivers, consistent long irons, a good short game, and bermuda putting will be the keys to success at the Houston Open. 

Notable stats

  • Strokes gained: off-the-tee
  • Strokes gained: approach
  • Driving distance
  • Around the green
  • Proximity 200+ yards

Outright value

Brooks Koepka +2200

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Brooks Koepka Strokes gained

I’ll be starting my card with Brooks Koepka this week. Sometimes the sportsbooks hang a number that is just off. This is one of those situations. Next week for the Masters, Koepka has odds of +2000 to win. The field this week is much weaker than the Masters will be and his odds are longer in Houston. I can’t really think much further than that.

The types of courses I like to target Brooks on are tracks that a golfer can over power with the driver and long irons. That is the exact situation we find ourselves in at Memorial Park. Stats and current form are important but sometimes value is about finding a number that just isn’t right. This reminds me of back in July when Jon Rahm was going off in the mid 20s heading into the Memorial. The number just felt off and he, of course, came away with the title. I’m in on Brooks with odds that feel too long.

Adam Scott +4000

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Adam Scott Strokes gained

The first of two Aussies I’ll be targeting this week is veteran Adam Scott. He’s only played four events since the restart of golf back in May, but he quietly has been in pretty solid form. The former Masters champ will definitely have next week on his mind but that shouldn’t stop him from being in contention in Houston. Compared to the rest of the field, Scott is top-25 in driving distance, approach, and tee-to-green. It is rare to find the combination of long driving and scrambling but Scott possesses both of those skills. This should allow him to be very aggressive when attacking the course this week. 

As mentioned prior, we are looking for golfers who move the ball from right to left and Adam Scott is perhaps the best-known drawer of the golf ball. Over his past five starts he has gained strokes in all categories except for approach but has only lost .3 with the irons; basically breaking even. Solid all-around play appears to be the recipe this week and Scott is built just for that.

Cameron Davis +7500 (+1200 top 5)

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Cameron Davis Strokes gained

I’m back in on Davis this week. He is top-10 in the field in driving distance and top-20 in overall tee-to-green. He also makes more eagles than almost anyone else competing this week. There are a handful of holes where eagle will be an option and being able to attack these holes may be a key to success. Davis has gained positive strokes off-the-tee in six straight events and has gained over a full stroke throughout his last 10. He has backed this up with a made cut in all six starts including three finishes of top-15 or better. 

Only a couple weeks removed from a top-10 finish, a win shouldn’t be too far off the horizon for the young Aussie. 75/1 seems too long of odds for how well he has been playing this fall. Toss in the top-5 finish bet at odds of 12/1 as well.

Jordan Speith walking
Jun 26, 2020; Cromwell, Connecticut, USA; Jordan Spieth (L) and his caddie Michael Greller (R) look on from the 18th tee during the second round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Tournament matchups

Jordan Spieth -112 vs Harold Varner III -118

The rough year for Spieth continued a couple of weeks ago with a 41st place finish at the Zozo; a field of only 78 golfers and no cut. He hasn’t finished inside the top-10 since June and his last top-5 was May of 2019. There is no denying that once #1 in the world has lost control of his game and is in need of some changes. Jordan Spieth has lost strokes on approach, off-the-tee, and tee-to-green over the past five events. 

Harold Varner is not the most consistent golfer on tour but he does tend to show flashes of success from time to time. A few weeks ago he posted a 13th at the Shriners following a top-30 at the Safeway. He missed the cut last week in Bermuda but that is just his inconsistent ways. Over his past five starts, HVIII has gained a staggering 5.2 strokes tee-to-green. He will need that kind of all-around consistency to find success in Houston this week.

Until Spieth shows some signs of his old game, I will continue to target him in matchups.

The pick: Harold Varner III -118

Sam Burns -112 vs Aaron Wise -118

When it comes to off-the-tee stats, there is almost no one better than Sam Burns. He leads the field in driving distance and is 3rd in strokes gained: off-the-tee. He is also 15th in the field in proximity from over 200 yards. He does struggle around the green but hopefully with how aggressive he can be with the driver, he will have a wedge into a number of the holes and be able to attack the flags. 

Aaron Wise out of nowhere gained 5.4 strokes total last week in Bermuda. The 26th place finish came on the heels of another missed cut. He has now failed to make the weekend in 7 of his last 11 starts. He fails to crack the top-30 in any of the key stats for this week. This one seems pretty straightforward to me.

The pick: Sam Burns -112

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