2020 Houston Open Betting Guide and Picks: Plenty of Longshots Have Value at Memorial Park
Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Keith Mitchell
- With the Masters looming next week, the Houston Open serves as one last warmup ahead of this year's final major.
- Joshua Perry breaks down everything you need to know ahead of the event, from the course to longshot picks.
With the Masters looming next week, the PGA TOUR heads to Houston for one last warm up ahead of this year’s final major.
I’ve had some real close calls at this tournament over the years and am currently on a string of three straight runner-up finishes with Sung Kang, Beau Hossler and Scott Harrington.
That all goes out the window this week, though, as the venue shifts from Golf Club of Houston to Memorial Park.
[Track all of your PGA TOUR bets by downloading The Action Network App.]
Memorial Park was newly renovated last year with the help of Brooks Koepka, so it should come as no surprise that it figures to favor the longer hitters this week.
The par 72 measures 7,432 yards and features five par 5s to give the bombers plenty of scoring opportunities. It also boasts three par 3s measuring over 200 yards giving solid long-iron players a bit of an edge there.
Outside of the basics, I’ll be taking a wait-and-see approach on how this track will actually play since this is the first time it’s been used for an event with the renovations.
That said, I do think we’ll see low scores with the winning score possibly getting to 20-under this week. The course doesn’t really offer much to prevent a birdie-fest unless the wind picks up.
It looks like the long hitters will have the advantage, so I’ll be looking at bombers in some decent form with good Bermudagrass putting numbers enough to take advantage of the birdie opportunities that await.
Dustin Johnson opens this week as the clear favorite at +750. It will be his first event in seven weeks, so he may have some rust to shake off ahead of the Masters. This course should fit his game perfectly, but with Augusta National lurking in the near future, it’s not really of interest for me to bet him this week.
Tyrrell Hatton (+1400), Brooks Koepka (+1800), Hideki Matsuyama (+1800) and Tony Finau (+1800) make up the next tier. Hatton has been playing the best of this bunch and won at Wentworth a few weeks ago. Koepka, as previously mentioned, had a hand in the re-design and seemed to have set up this course to his liking. Koepka did play alright at the CJ Cup three weeks ago and is probably the most likely winner of this group. Hideki and Finau have each been playing solid in recent weeks, but there just isn’t any interest for me at those prices. Once again, it would not be surprising if these guys have one eye on Augusta.
Viktor Hovland (+2200), Russell Henley (+2500), Adam Scott (+2500) and Scottie Scheffler (+2500) close out this range. Henley and Scheffler would be of the most interest to me out of this quartet.
Henley’s ball-striking has been dialed in for months, but his putting has let him down. His last win was in Houston, though, and he putted the lights out that week to track down Sung Kang, so even though it’s a different course, a repeat performance wouldn’t come as a shock.
Scheffler has cooled off since his good run of form late in the summer, but a return to Texas for the former Longhorn is a positive.
Scott is making his return from a positive COVID test and is very likely to have his focus set on next week’s event. That brings us to Hovland, who I have trouble backing in these type of events because I don’t trust him to hole enough putts to get into that 20-under range.
I’m going to start my card with Sungjae Im at +3300. Im has gained strokes off the tee and with his approach in five straight events so his ball-striking is right where he’d like it ahead of The Masters. His short game, on the other hand, has not been good.
That said, he gains nearly a half-stroke per round putting on Bermuda, so the shift in surface should help. I usually don’t play much near the top ahead of a major, but Im will be the exception this week and he’s a guy I’ll be keeping tabs on for next week as well.
I’m also going to back Cameron Davis at +7500. Davis has only lost strokes off the tee twice this year (Workday, Travelers) and he only lost a combined .3 strokes in those events, so he’s still hovered around field average off the tee on his worst day.
Putting on Bermuda has troubled Davis in the past, but he gained over eight strokes at the Sanderson and Wyndham, so my concerns about his putter have diminished.
This will definitely be a week where I’ll be peppering players in the triple-digits.
We’ll start this range with one of our old favorites, Sam Burns, at +10000. Burns’ form has been hit and miss, but he’s usually at his best when the driver matters most. He’s gained strokes off the tee in 15 of his last 16 starts. He’s also a great putter on Bermuda greens.
We’ll also go back to Adam Schenk one more time at +11000. I’ve mentioned it before, but Schenk has quietly been playing some of the most consistent golf on TOUR. He’s now made 10 straight cuts but we’re still waiting for that one week where he works his way into contention.
He’s above average off the tee and gains strokes with the putter on all surfaces, but his numbers do tick up a bit on Bermuda.
I’ll also add Kristoffer Ventura at +12500. Ventura is sort of in that same mold as Burns and Schenk, a player who drives the ball well and putts well on Bermuda greens.
I’m also going to play one of the new fan favorites on TOUR, Harry Higgs, at +15000. Higgs resides in Dallas and attended SMU, so a Texas tournament should be in his comfort zone. He’s above average in length and has gained off the tee in seven of his past eight events. The irons have been the trouble spot for him recently, so we’d need to see some improvement for Higgs to contend in this field.
Editor’s Note: Harry Higgs has withdrawn from the Houston Open due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Lastly, I’ll back Keith Mitchell at +25000. Mitchell bombs it as much as anyone and his normally bad putting hovers around average when we shift to Bermuda greens.
For Mitchell to have a shot he will need to fix his inconsistent iron play. When he’s on, his approach game is strength, but lately, the results have been all over the map. At this price though, I’ll take a chance that every thing can line up.
The Houston Open Card
- Sungjae Im +3300 (.94 units)
- Cameron Davis +7500 (.44 units)
- Sam Burns +10000 (.3 units)
- Adam Schenk +11000 (.3 units)
- Kristoffer Ventura +12500 (.22 units)
- Keith Mitchell +25000 (.13 units)
Total Stake: 2.55 units