The Houston Open returns to the Golf Club of Houston for the first time since April 1, 2018, when Ian Poulter earned entry into the Masters with a playoff victory over Beau Hossler. The tournament takes its new place on the PGA Tour schedule as part of the fall swing after being left off of last year’s calendar. As a result, a weaker field is in attendance this week. Henrik Stenson is the top golfer scheduled to tee Thursday morning at No. 37 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s the tournament favorite at +850 (FanDuel Sportsbook), but we’ll look for better value among our betting picks for the Houston Open.
The 2016 Open champion is one of two major winners in the field along with Jason Dufner. Former Houston champions Jim Herman, Russell Henley, D.A. Points, Johnson Wagner, Hunter Mahan and Matt Jones will vie for a second title. Two 2019-20 winners in Sebastian Munoz and Cameron Champ look to keep their hot streaks going early in the season.
The course: Golf Club of Houston
Golf Club of Houston hosts the Houston Open for the 13th time. It will also be the final year with the tournament moving along to Memorial Park Golf Course next season.
The venue measures 7,441 yards and plays as a par 72. Twelve holes had four-round scoring averages below par in the 2018 tournament. The easiest was the 557-yard, par-5 eighth which played to an average of 4.615 with seven eagles scored from Thursday-Sunday. The toughest hole, by a considerable margin, was the 488-yard, par-4 18th at a stroke average of 4.227. Seventeen scores of double bogey or worse were carded on No. 18 during the tournament.
Two of the four par 3s play to either side of the 200-yard threshold. The two shorter than 200 yards in length each scored below par in 2018. The par 4s range from a low of 338 to 489 yards. The par 5s measure, 557, 566, 590 and 608 yards. The behemoth 15th hole had an average score of 4.759 in 2018. The winning score has ranged from minus-12 to 20-under par since 2010.
Key stats to consider for the Houston Open
With Golf Club of Houston being the long-time host of the Houston Open, we have a fair amount of course history on which to fall back. The stats best associated with previous success, according to historical data from Data Golf and Fantasy National, are Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and Bogey Avoidance. We should also consider Par 4 Efficiency: 450-500 Yards with four of the 10 par 4s landing in that range.
My model looks at the most recent 36 rounds for every member of the field.
Houston Open sleepers and value bets
These early-season, weak-field events are great times to dive deep. Landing a fall winner can pad your bankroll for the remainder of the PGA Tour season. Enter Stefani, ranked 326th in the OWGR. He has never won on the PGA circuit, but he was a two-time runner-up in 2014. He placed fifth in Houston that season, and he’s a two-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour (then the Web.com Tour).
Stefani opened his 2019-20 season with a missed cut at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, but he rebounded a week later to tie for 28th at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He tied for 24th in Houston in 2018. He ranks fourth overall in the stat model over his last 36 rounds, leading the charge with a rank of fifth in SG: Approach.
Redman is mispriced after making three of four cuts to start his season. He was ranked 1,356th in the OWGR at the end of the 2018 season and has climbed his way to 146th entering this week. His best finish in 17 events last season was a solo second at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He was T20 at the 148th Open Championship three weeks later. He’ll make his debut at Houston GC, but he’s a good fit for the course as the fourth-best ball-striker in the field while also ranking 12th in SG: Approach. He’s the 26th highest-ranked golfer in the field, but he’s tied for the 48th-best odds to win.
Stanley didn’t miss a cut in the three events in which he has participated in at this venue since 2014. He skipped the 2018 tournament, but he was T8 in 2017 and T19 the year prior. He was T48 at last week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, but he ranked fourth among those who played all four rounds in SG: Approach at 1.74 strokes gained per round. The 31-year-old ranks fourth in the same stat over everyone’s last 36 rounds, and he’s eighth in SG: Ball Striking. He has fallen from a peak of 33rd in the OWGR in 2018 to 75th entering this tournament, but his two PGA Tour wins have come against much stiffer competition than what’s present this week.
Houston Open winner
It’s time for Scheffler to complete his breakout. The 23-year-old led the KFT in Finals and overall points last season in order to earn his full PGA Tour card for the 2019-20 campaign. He won twice on the KFT last year and started his PGA Tour season with a T7 at The Greenbrier. He followed it up with a T16 at the Sanderson Farms and was T74 last week for three consecutively made cuts. Scheffler ranks seventh in SG: Ball Striking, 11th in SG: Approach and 15th in Bogey Avoidance. He has already climbed to 82nd in the OWGR and could very well crack the top 50 by the end of the season.