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2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open First-Round Leader Expert Picks: Hideki Matsuyama & Jason Day Among Value Plays

2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open First-Round Leader Expert Picks: Hideki Matsuyama & Jason Day Among Value Plays article feature image

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Hideki Matsuyama.

The PGA TOUR heads to Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston for the third consecutive year to play the 2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open. 

The 7,400-yard par 70 has a unique setup with five par 3s and three par 5s, and it will play every bit as long as the scorecard indicates. The course has played very difficult in its two years as host of the Houston Open and has tough to hit fairways and difficult runoff areas around the green. 

In the past two editions of the tournament, there have been six first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the six, three have come from the morning wave, and three have come from the afternoon wave. 

As of now, there doesn’t seem to be a wind advantage for either the AM or PM starters. 

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Cadence Bank Houston Open First-Round Leader Picks

Hideki Matsuyama +3500 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:24 a.m. ET

It’s unclear whether or not Hideki Matsuyama is in form, and his price in the betting markets this week is indicative of that. He’s been extremely inconsistent since early June but has shown some occasional flashes of what makes him an elite player. 

Due to his recent volatility, Matsuyama has an intriguing case to be the first-round leader. His unpredictably makes him a risky proposition for an outright but a solid candidate to put together a low round on Thursday. He may not be able to put four great rounds together right now, but he can be as good as anyone in the field for one. 

Matsuyama’s course history should provide some hope for him this week in Houston. He tied for second at the course in 2020 and gained 4.5 strokes putting, which is a good sign for how he feels about the green complexes. 

In his first start at the course, the former Masters champ fired an unconscious 63 in the final round of the event, so he’s shown he can go low at Memorial Park. 

Jason Day +3500 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:24 a.m. ET

Jason Day is my best bet to win the tournament this week, and I fully expect him to get off to a hot start in the process. He’s been playing excellent golf of late and has shot in the 60s in seven of his past eight rounds. 

Day has also shown that he enjoys Memorial Park in the past. In 2020, he finished in a tie for seventh and shot three rounds of 68 or better. The golf course suited him despite having a terrible year overall, so he should be licking his chops to play the course while he’s arguably in the best form he’s been in since early 2019. 

For all the reasons outlined in both my tournament preview and FRL picks, I also believe Day is worth a sprinkle for a wire-to-wire victory (+18000 on DraftKings). 

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