High Stakes in the Houston Open’s Final Round
Credit: USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ian Poulter
Neither Jordan Spieth nor Rickie Fowler made a move on Saturday, so the Houston Open leaderboard is pretty open heading into the final round.
Ian Poulter (pictured above) and Beau Hossler are tied at the top, sitting at 14-under, two strokes clear of the rest of the field.
Poulter is the slight favorite at +300, and Hossler is at +450. The pressure will be on these two and all the players chasing, really, to come out on top with one final Masters invitation on the line.
Of these contenders … only Kuchar and Stenson are currently qualified. pic.twitter.com/1O6QMkC4eA
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 31, 2018
That dynamic lends itself to players coming from off the pace with a low round and taking this tournament from the leaders.
I’d steer clear of most of the big names Sunday. Henrik Stenson (+1000) and Matt Kuchar (+1400) are only three shots behind the leaders and may post solid rounds, but their motivation isn’t the same as the rest of the field’s. (They have already secured their spots in Augusta.) Spieth (+1000) is four back, but his putter just hasn’t been there all week. And even if it does get hot, he may not be able to close the gap. The same logic applies to Fowler (+1600), who’s five shots back. He has struggled to keep his driver in play and has put four balls in the hazard this week. The +1600 number is half of what it should be.
If you’re looking for a final-round longshot, I’d target Keith Mitchell at +4000. Mitchell leads the field in birdies this week with 18, but a few errors late in the rounds on Friday and Saturday kept him from posting really low numbers. He’s still just three shots back of the lead, however, and if he can avoid mistakes, he has the ability to go low and steal this.
I also like Kevin Tway closer to the top. He’s two shots back in a tie for third and is available at +1600. I’m not a huge fan of that number and would rather have something in the +2000 range, but I think this is the type of course where he can win. Tway is the only player this week who is top five in strokes gained: tee to green. He’s also gaining strokes with the putter, so it appears everything is clicking for him.
In Sunday’s matchup plays, I’ll look at backing Spieth, Stenson and J.B. Holmes. They are the top three this week in strokes gained: tee to green but are losing ground with the putter. They should be able to get enough birdie looks to win their pairings, however.
For my fades, I’m targeting Sam Ryder and Johnson Wagner. Ryder has never really been in contention on the PGA Tour, but he’s three back entering Sunday. Ryder’s success has all been due to his putter, however. He’s slightly below field average off the tee and with the approach. Hazards await errant shots, so guys can only ride the hot putter for so long on this course.
Wagner (who’s 7-under for the tournament) is in a similar boat, but his putter has been slightly worse and his approach has been well below field average. He’s an over-par round waiting to happen.
Top Photo Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
All odds via Bovada on March 31