Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:49 AM
Houston Open Picks and Predictions
- November 3, 2020
- By Matt Blunt
It's prep week for the 2020 Masters this week for all the big names in golf right now, and while some have chosen to avoid active competition this week to likely head up to Augusta National early, the field at this week's Houston Open even is still pretty loaded at the top.
This year's Houston Open also gets a course change as it's the Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston that hosts the festivities this year after the Golf Club of Houston has been the regular host for years here.
It's a track that boasts a similar setup to the GC of Houston in it being a longer Par 72 track which should favor the longer hitters overall, but if the wind kicks up like it did for a couple of days in Bermuda last week, the Memorial Park Golf Course should show its teeth.
But this is still a pre-major event where guys are looking to get as close to their peak performance as possible without peaking too early. There are still plenty of big names in this week's field that aren't making the trip to Augusta next week as well.
So to put it in terms used for other sports, it may be worthwhile to avoid some of those bigger names in “lookahead” spots this week, especially if they are trying to shake off some rust after long layoffs like a few are.
That doesn't mean to completely avoid some that will be making the trip to the Masters next week, but from a bettor's perspective, it doesn't hurt to try and add a couple of units for Masters betting if possible. Hopefully that's the outcome for us this week in Houston.
PGA Tour Betting Resources
- Tour: PGA
- Date: Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020 to Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020
- Venue: Memorial Park Golf Course
- Location: Houston, Texas
- Par-Yardage: 72, 7,432 yards
- TV: Golf Channel
- Vegas Expert Picks
- Betting Odds
Memorial Park is your standard Par 72 on the scorecard with four Par 5's littered throughout the track, and with minimal elevation changes – something that's not the case at Augusta National – we should see plenty of low scores in Houston this week.
A 2019 renovation here saw plenty of trees removed to weaken yet another defense this course has, and finding sand traps here are going to be few and far between with less than two dozen of them out there.
A blistery Texas wind could change all of that throughout the course of the week, and the surrounds as you approach the green are large and will see plenty of errant second shots find collection areas that will put pressure on the around-the-green games of all the golfers this week.
The green speeds are expected to rival the blistering paces guys typically see at Augusta which is probably why there are plenty of big names involved here, but if you're a longer hitter that's got a solid stroke with the putter, this golf course shouldn't be too concerning at all.
Dustin Johnson comes in as the prohibitive favorite this week as he's in the +700 range right now, while the next group of golfers following him are anywhere from +1600 to +3000.
Names in that group include Tony Finau (+1800), Tyrrell Hatton (+1800), Russell Henley (+2000), Hideki Matsuyama (+2000), Viktor Hovland (+2200), Brooks Koepka (+2200), and Scottie Scheffler (+2200).
It's not hard to make a case for all of those guys, but in terms of DJ, he's a guy that grades out really well for me this week, but having not been in competition for six weeks and now recovered from the virus, there is far too much uncertainty for me to pony up anything on such a chalky price with him.
I'm interested to see how the first round or two go for DJ and could be tempted to jump on then all things considered, but it's another guy in that list who's known as one of the longer hitters on Tour that starts this week's selections.
Houston Open Contender Odds to Win
- Dustin Johnson: +700
- Tyrrell Hatton: +1600
- Brooks Koepka: +1800
- Hideki Matsuyama: +2000
- Scottie Scheffler: +2000
- Tony Finau: +2000
- More: Odds
Golfers to Watch - PGA
Top Picks and Predictions
Contender to Back
Tony Finau +1800
Finau's ability to close out tournaments is always going to be a concern when backing him given he's only got one career PGA Tour win in his career and it was in a concurrent event during a Major week, but sometimes guys are late bloomers in golf, and there is probably no better candidate than Tony Finau for that potential profile.
Throughout the history of the Tour, most guys tend to peak in their early-to-mid 30's on Tour and at 31 years old, Finau's game is definitely capable of rattling off multiple wins in the coming years. He's shown that he's been knocking on that door a bunch in these past few months with nine starts on Tour over the past 16 weeks, as he missed the cut one time, finished 65th another, and the other seven starts have produced finishes no worse than 14th – with five Top 10s.
Give him a long, flat track like this where his length off the tee is going to be a huge advantage over the majority of the field, and things do tend to line up well for Finau this week. He's a guy that doesn't have the long layoff concerns like say DJ or Adam Scott have (both haven't played on Tour in six weeks) with an 11th place finish a couple of weeks ago, and the level of consistency this guy plays with is just too high not to start seeing him knock off a few wins.
His Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green numbers were strong last year in ranking 30th on Tour in that regard (.266), and his biggest flaw – driving accuracy – isn't a worry at all at this track. He can be a birdie machine on the Par 4's and 5's when things are clicking everywhere, and there are just too many things that are seemingly lined up in Finau's favor this week that make it tough to figure he won't be clicking from the outset.
James Hahn +9000
Adam Scott (+4000) is definitely another name to strongly consider here, and had he not had the six-week layoff that he has coming into this event, it would be his name sitting above this segment. But Scott is a guy that's been around for a long time on Tour, and as a former Masters champion, him teeing it up this week feels a lot like the typical tune up/shake the rust off event for a guy that would love to join the group in Tour history of winning multiple majors.
Instead, it's much further down the board with Hahn I've landed on here as at least in terms of recent form with him there is much more to like.
Hahn has started three events since the 2020-21 crossover season began in mid-September, and it's been nothing but Top 10's for him. His finishes have only been getting better in that span as well as he's gone 9th, 6th, 5th in order in those starts, in large part because he's hit 75% of his fairways, and 78% of his greens in regulation. Anybody that can consistently play fairway-to-green golf is always going to set themselves up for plenty of success, and things are just clicking right now for this guy.
This field is much deeper than most of the ones Hahn finished in the Top 10 in recently, but if he's hitting three of every four fairways and nearly four of every five greens, as he has through three events, there is no reason to think he can't compete with the bigger names this week. A Top 10 (+650) or Top 20 (+300) bet is probably the safer way to go here with Hahn and all the big names he'd have to beat, but he is someone that should be considered in some form this week in my view.
Long Shot Pick
Matt Jones +10000
Jones was a guy who got plenty of TV time on the weekend in Bermuda, as his T4 finish there was his best finish in quite some time on Tour. And while there is a bit of a concern in being a prisoner of the moment with him after such a strong finish.
However, the Houston Open is a tournament that will always hold a special place in his heart after what he was able to do on the 18th hole in this tournament back in 2014. It was at a different course of course, but with him riding high after last week's great play, looking to duplicate that memory is something I can get behind with him this week.
Statistically he doesn't grade out as others in this field – but nobody tends to in the 100-1 range – but he's still got plenty of length off the tee, and the overall strength of his game – putting – should pay dividends if the green speeds are as high as they are projected and wind does end up in the forecast.
Jones is another Aussie that has no problem playing in windy conditions (see last week), and if the flatstick gets rolling again, another threatening look at a title could be in store for him this week.
Houston Open Props
72 Hole Matchup to Take - Houston Open
Adam Scott (+100) over Sungjae Im
Leaving Scott off the outright part of this piece opens him up for a play on him as an underdog in this head-to-head matchup, as my biggest fear with Scott (rust) is negated when he's just got to outperform one guy.
That's not a knock on Im, as he's a great player in his own right, but he just doesn't grade out nearly as high for me this week to be a favorite in this head-to-head, nor be as high as he is in the outright markets (+3300) either.
If indeed this does turn out to be the prototypical “tune up” event for Scott, I would guess that a finish in the Top 10 or 20 are completely in play here, and I'll gladly take this underdog price with him if that's the case.
1st Round Leader - Houston Open
Luke List +9000
Kevin Tway +15000
On a course where length and Par 5 scoring could be the difference between guys in the end, I'll look at two guys who are known bombers to potentially start off the event hot. Both List and Tway can run into other problems with their games (and length) at times, but they are also known to get smoking hot for a round or two at a time, and at these prices for 1st round leader I'll bite.
List's biggest concern is with the putter, and fast green speeds won't do him any favors, but when you've got a Par 5 scoring average of 4.58, all it takes is for a couple of good shots to wrack up an eagle or two on those holes to vault up the leaderboard.
Tway is a guy that's got more consistency in the approach game overall, but putting is always his biggest issue as well. But get that flatstick going in the right direction and those big birds can pile up for him as well in this event, and in a one round showdown betting format like 1st round leader is, grabbing these enormous prices on two guys you know already have some advantage with their length off the tee is something I can't pass up.
Where to Bet on Houston Open
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How to Bet on Golf
Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.
Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.
Understanding Golf Odds and Bets
Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.
If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.
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