The PGA Tour returns to the United States this week, heading north from Mexico to Houston, Texas. Previously known as the Shell Houston Open and briefly the Vivint Houston Open, this year’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open welcomes a field of 132 players to Memorial Park Golf Course. Holding a great event last year in its debut, Memorial Park should once again shine as the fall swing nears its end.
Viktor Hovland was in contention in last year’s Houston Open, eventually finishing in a tie for 15th. The young Norwegian captured his third PGA Tour title last week at the World Wide Technology Championship with relative ease, cruising to a four-stroke victory over Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz. The Mexican carded a final round of 5-under 66 to claim the runner-up spot for himself as he is set to defend for the first time in his PGA Tour career this week at the Houston Open.
A relatively unknown golf course coming into last year’s tournament, those playing had their sights on the following week on a slightly more recognized course, Augusta National. Not Ortiz, as the Mexican reached 13 under courtesy of a final round of 5-under 65 to secure a two-stroke victory over Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama.
With birdies on two of his final three holes, the man who played collegiately at North Texas was able to hold off a strong cast of characters, which included not only the last two Masters champions, but also major champions such as Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Shane Lowry and Francesco Molinari.
To do so, Ortiz relied not so much on his ball-striking at the Houston Open but rather his short game, sitting fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green by tournament’s end. Ranking second in SG: Around-the-Green and fifth in SG: Putting, Ortiz found his touch when necessary, holing clutch putts from on and off the putting surface.
First in par-5 scoring by the end of the week, the 30-year-old was able to take advantage of the three major scoring opportunities on the par-70 layout, all while avoiding the big mistakes as he finished second in bogey avoidance.
He was effective in other areas as well, ranking fourth in par-3 scoring, sixth in birdies and 14th in par-4 scoring to wrap things up on last year’s Houston Open.
He was not the only one to take to Memorial Park Golf Course, as this year’s Houston Open favorite, Sam Burns, was nearly victorious a year ago.
The 36-hole and 54-hole leader, the former LSU Tiger was unable to convert his early week’s edge into his first career victory. Two wins and a confidence boost later, the 25-year-old returns to Houston this year as a +1600 betting favorite at BetOnline Sportsbook.
According to our odds calculator, Burns has a 5.88 percent chance to capture his second victory of the swing season and third in the last seven months. Here’s a look at the golfers with the likeliest odds to win the Houston Open this week.
Odds To Win The Houston Open
Odds as of November 8 at BetOnline Sportsbook
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Course And Analysis
A par 72 for weekly public play, Memorial Park Golf Course is packed into a par 70 when the world’s finest come into town for the Houston Open. Marking only the second year in which the tournament comes to the Tom Doak recreation, a stern examination of one’s game is likely to unfold in the Longhorn State.
There is no hiding from your weaknesses here, just as player-consultant Brooks Koepka likes. Doak’s right-hand man during the overhaul process of Memorial Park, Koepka battled back from a poor start last year, playing his first 36 holes in 2 over before finding a different gear over the weekend and playing his last 36 holes in 10 under.
Eventually finishing in a tie for fifth, the four-time major champion actually lost strokes on approach, but ranked second in SG: Putting for the week behind Mackenzie Hughes. One should not be surprised to hear that given Koepka’s affinity for not only Bermuda putting surfaces, but quick, undulating greens.
Combined with tricky run-off areas and tight lies, if one is wayward on their approach, par will be a difficult task to achieve. Yet because of this, the trouble from around the green is heightened for the entirety of the field and is an area of the game in which we need to decipher just how much importance lies.
Because of this, Memorial Park screams as a second-shot golf course and we will be placing the adequate weight on approach play for the Houston Open. If able to effectively hone in on their irons via the five par 3s and difficult par 4s, a player will instantly gain a leg up on the rest of the field at the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open Expert Picks
Patrick Reed (+3500 To Win)
Slowly but surely, it appears Reed is beginning to find a semblance of form as the fall swing comes to an end. A poor back end to last season was followed up with a horrid start to this season as he missed the cut poorly at the Shriners Children’s Open and got lapped at the CJ Cup at Summit.
He has since finished runner-up in a weak field at the Bermuda Championship and made the cut last week at the World Wide Technology Championship. A touch too long given the talent around him on the Houston Open betting oddsboard, Reed has always been a player to thrive when winning scores find their way into the mid-teens under par.
A winner at Torrey Pines, Trump National Doral, Liberty National GC, Bethpage Black and Augusta National, the Houston resident should take to Memorial Park in his first appearance. He hasn’t played in his local tournament since 2016, but he did capture finishes of T-10 and T-17 in his last two outings at the Golf Club of Houston.
Max Homa (+5500 To Win)
Similar to Reed, Homa has always found success when scoring conditions are the most difficult. Strong outings last season at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Valspar Championship, Memorial and of course Genesis Invitational should bode well for his chances this week at the Houston Open.
He struggled off his victory at the Fortinet Championship to begin the season, finishing near the bottom of the pack at the CJ Cup at Summit, but it is hardly a concern of mine. Typically poor around the green, the three-time winner of the PGA Tour has been adequate to begin this new season. Posting +2.7 and +2.2 SG: Around-the-Green, if that area of the bag remains pat, his ball-striking should return.
Finishing in a tie for 48th last season, Homa struck his irons poorly and was unable to figure out these Doak greens. He has since improved on Bermuda, namely his performances at Innisbrook, Bay Hill and the Concession Club. While all three of those showings were in Florida, I am willing to chance it translates to a nice week in Texas.
Sebastian Munoz (+7500 To Win)
A North Texas alum, Munoz – like Reed – struggled mightily to begin this season, but appears to be back to his normal self. After missing the first three cuts of the year, he has since finished inside the top 50 at the CJ Cup at Summit and inside the top five at the Zozo Championship.
He is known to be a rather streaky player and I don’t mind saying his peak will be this week at the Houston Open. Having captured a podium finish at the Charles Schwab Challenge and a top-10 finish at the Valero Texas Open, the state of his alma mater was kind to him last season and should hopefully be once again this week.
Ian Poulter (+8000 To Win)
His missed cut at the World Wide Technology Championship is the most misleading of the bunch. Getting to 8 under late on Friday, the Englishman went 5 over on his final three holes to miss the weekend by a single stroke. Having played beautifully up to that point in the tournament, Poulter should return this week with a vengeance.
A winner down the road at GC of Houston in 2018, Poulter arrives in solid form this time around. With quality finishes scattered throughout this and last season, I believe the 45-year-old’s consistent play at TPC Southwind throughout the years could be an indicator of success at Memorial Park.
Keith Mitchell (+15000 To Win)
Texas success is a common theme in our selections and Mitchell would certainly fit the criteria with past quality results at the AT&T Byron Nelson and the then Shell Houston Open. He’s riding four consecutive starts with positive tee-to-green figures, so he may very well be a bargain at this price. With no glaring weaknesses in his game at the moment, he returns to his native Bermuda grass and should thrive in potentially difficult scoring conditions.
Here’s a helpful guide to some of the different betting options for the Houston Open to help you put some extra cash in your pocket while wagering on golf.
Golf is unique for many reasons, but one of them is the significant number of betting props available at weekly tournaments. The Houston Open is no different.
Sportsbooks are offering odds on things like whether there will be a hole-in-one, OVER/UNDERs on the winning score for the eventual champion and odds on which players from specific countries will have the lowest score, to name a few.
Like other sports, betting on props is a fun and unique way to enhance your golf gambling experience.
Live Betting is arguably one of the most exciting ways to bet on golf. If the player you placed a pre-tournament bet on is out of the running at any point during the Houston Open, you can bet on another golfer as the days go by and have another stake in the game.
If there are only a few men in the hunt on the final day, the odds likely won’t be significantly high, but your chances of winning are. We saw this happen multiple times in the PGA Tour’s Return to Golf, as multiple tournaments went to a playoff.
These helpful pages will assist you in handicapping your golf wagers:
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