Finding Value with Spieth, Fowler Surging at the Houston Open
Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler are probably the two stars who need a win the most at the Houston Open. And each is positioned to notch a victory heading into the weekend.
Fowler is tied for second at 10-under par, while Spieth is tied for sixth at 9-under. They’re listed as co-favorites (+350) to win the tournament on Bovada. Both trail Beau Hossler (pictured above), one of our longshot plays from this week’s tournament preview, who is 11-under par and is next on the odds sheet at +1200. Hossler has been in this spot before only to fold over the weekend, so it will be interesting to see if he has learned from those experiences.
Round 2 is complete @HouOpen!
1. Hossler, -11
2. Ryder, -10
2. Fowler, -10
2. Ancer, -10
2. Lindheim, -10
6. Dunne, -9
6. Burgoon, -9
6. Spieth, -9
6. Tway, -9
6. Suri, -9
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 31, 2018
I’d lean toward Spieth over Fowler if you’re looking to get involved with the favorites. Spieth is second this week in strokes gained: tee to green. The putter is also slowly coming around and is right near the field average. Fowler, on the other hand, is doing most of his work with the putter, gaining nearly 2.5 strokes per round on the field. With water looming on a lot of these holes, it’s even more important than usual to back the player who has been more consistent from tee to green.
Henrik Stenson (+1200), Justin Rose (+1600) and Matt Kuchar (+2000) are the only other players in the +2000 or lower range on the odds board. Stenson (three shots back), Kuchar (three back) and Rose (four back) are within striking distance, and one good round could elevate them to the top of the leaderboard. My concern with this group is that a slow start Saturday might result in them checking out a little bit mentally with those Augusta tee times looming in less than a week.
One longer shot I’d consider backing is Grayson Murray. He was another triple-digit play I recommended in our tournament preview, and I really like what we’ve seen for two rounds. Murray (+5000) is three back of Hossler at 8-under par, but he leads the field this week in strokes gained: tee to green. His putter acted up a little over the first couple of rounds, but overall, he has the distance to overpower this course, and the irons appear to be dialed in. He’s a young player (24 years old) who picked up a win at the Barbasol Championship last July, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s victorious again on Tour.
With 90 players making the cut, the books are taking their sweet time releasing matchups, but Murray would be my top choice to back in head-to-heads and three-ball bets Saturday. I’d also consider Jamie Lovemark (+8000 to win the tournament), who is eighth from tee to green so far but is losing over a stroke per round with the putter. Lovemark is five shots back of Hossler heading into the weekend.
Phil Mickelson is in a fade position for me. He’s been all over the map this week from tee to green, but his putter has bailed him out. He sits in 42nd place after two days, and it’s hard to imagine his focus will be on grinding out a result in Houston.
Top Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
All odds via Bovada on March 30