Houston sports is killing it with the hometown Astros winning the 2022 World Series and this week’s 2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open. It is the penultimate event of the PGA Tour’s fall swing and tees off Thursday at Memorial Park Golf Course.
Last year’s champion Jason Kokrak won’t be defending his title after heading to the LIV Tour this past summer. Notable entrants in this 132-golfer field include Texans Scottie Scheffler (2nd in the Official World Golf Rankings) and Sam Burns (12th) and Tony Finau (15th)
But, I buried the lede … We hit our second outright in six PGA Tour events handicapped this season with Russell Henley winning last week’s 2022 World Wide Technology Championship At Mayakoba.
It was a cakewalk victory as Henley won by four strokes and had a six-stroke lead entering Sunday. No other Mayakoba bets were cashed but Henley’s victory was a 17.65-unit come-up.
My 2022-23 PGA Tour balance is now +12.85 units (u) and the recap of my 2022 World Wide Technology Championship At Mayakoba is at the bottom.
Before I get into my picks to win, picks to place, and head-to-head bets, I’ll discuss Memorial Park, the comp courses used and key performance indicators (KPIs) used in the Houston Open handicap.
Course breakdown and KPIs
This will be the third consecutive season Memorial Park Golf Course has hosted the Houston Open. Memorial is one of the toughest courses on the Tour. It’s a par 70 that plays at 7,412 yards with five Par 3s, three Par 5s, and 10 Par 4s.
Tom Doak renovated Memorial Park back in 2019 with input from four-time major winner Brooks Koepka and financial support from Astros’ owner, Jim Crane. Memorial Park’s Bermuda-grass greens are tricky and slopey and will test golfer’s short games.
The first two Houston Opens at Memorial Park had difficult scoring conditions with an average cut line of 3-over. Less than one-third of the field playing below par in each tourney.
Comp courses used include Augusta National, Southern Hills Country Club, and St. George’s Golf and Country Club for their ties to Doak. Also, I looked at Texas-based courses such as TPC San Antonio, TPC Craig Ranch, and Colonial Country Club.
KPIs used for my Houston Open model include Strokes Gained (SG): Approach (APP), Good Drives Gained, SG: Around-the-Green (ARG), SG: Par 3, scrambling %, Proximity (PROX): 200+, and more.
Houston Open ‘horses for the course’
- All stats are provided by FantasyNational.com unless noted.
This is a get-right spot for Matsuyama who has played below expectations at recent events. Matsuyama’s game fits Memorial Park Golf Course and his track record in tough tourneys speaks volumes.
The greens at Memorial Park resemble those of Augusta National, the golf course of the Masters, and Matsuyama is the 2021 Masters Champion. Matsuyama getting the 2021 green jacket wasn’t a fluke. He’s finished in the top 20 in six of his 10 Masters appearances.
Matsuyama has the most SG at comp courses to Memorial Park. Even if you remove Augusta, he plays well on challenging golf courses. Matsuyama is the second-best golfer in the field in SG over the last 50 rounds across my KPIs in difficult scoring conditions.
Here’s how Matsuyama ranked in some of my KPIs:
- Ninth in Good Drives Gained
- Fifth in SG: APP
- Fifth in Greens-in-Regulation (GIRs) Gained
- Sixth in SG: ARG
- First in Bogeys Avoided
- Third in SG: Par 4
You can literally trace Matsuyama’s third-best SG: Par 4 at these tough courses through his KPIs. Matsuyama has a good blend of distance and accuracy off the tee (Good Drives Gained).
Most pro courses are “second shot courses” and he is one of the best iron players in the field (SG: APP). Hence Matsuyama ranking 5th out of the 132-golfer field in GIRs Gained.
If he misses the green, Matsuyama makes up for it (SG: ARG) and avoids a bogey. Also, Matsuyama is 2nd in SG: Par 3 in difficult scoring conditions.
We are getting good value on Matsuyama because he battled injuries most of last season leading to inconsistent results. But, no golfer in this field with a higher ceiling than Matsuyama. He only ranks below Scheffler and Finau according to my numbers.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Hideki Matsuyama odds:
- Win: (0.5u: +2200)
- Top-5: (0.5u: +550)
- Top-10: (0.5u: +250)
The only reason I have for not backing Henley is the simple logic: “He cannot win two in a row, right?” Well, why not? Fatigue shouldn’t be an issue, he coasted last week at Mayakoba.
Henley is fourth in my Houston Open power rankings. He ranks eighth in SG over the last 24 rounds, 11th across my KPIs, and 4th in opportunities gained at courses with difficult scoring conditions.
Also, Henley’s Achillies heel is putting but Bermuda greens are his best putting surface. Henley gained 3.7 strokes on the greens at last year’s Houston Open where he finished seventh.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Russell Henley odds:
- Win: (0.25u: +2500)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +550)
- Top-10: (0.5u: +250)
Buyer beware: Rose has sucked recently. He missed the cut at his last two PGA Tour events and withdrew from the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship in September.
But, Rose ranks 9th in this field per my numbers. He stands out in SG at comp courses used (ranked seventh), SG at Texas-based golf courses (third), SG: Tee-to-Green (T2G) on courses longer than 7,400 yards (first), and SG: Putting on Bermuda greens (17th).
Memorial Park will be a challenge and Rose has the third-most SG at courses with difficult scoring conditions. Rose has finished 2nd at the Masters twice and in the top 20 eight other times.
Also, Rose finished 13th at the 2022 PGA Championship and 12th at the 2007 PGA Championship, both played at Southern Hills Country Club, which is a comp course to Memorial Park.
Rose fired a final round 60 en route to a fourth-place finish at the 2022 RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and Country Club. He picked up nearly nine strokes on St. George’s greens, which were rebuilt by Doak from 2014-15.
These bets on Rose are more “sprinkles” but his game fits Memorial Park and if he gets hot with the putter, Rose will be in the mix on Sunday.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Justin Rose odds:
- Win: (0.125u: +10000)
- Top-5: (0.125u: +1600)
- Top-10: (0.25u: +750)
- Top-20: (0.5u: +330)
Speaking of “sprinkling”, that’s all we can do with List despite his elite ball striking. List is absolutely terrible with the putter and has lost 4.2 strokes on the greens in his last five events.
But, List ranks 9th in this field for Good Drives Gained, 10th in SG: APP, 5th in SG: Par 3, and 8th in GIRs Gained at courses with difficult scoring conditions over the last 50 rounds. He’s 2nd in opportunities gained at challenging courses and SG: T2G at courses longer than 7,400 yards.
At last year’s Houston Open, List finished 11th at -4, six strokes behind the winner and List lost 5.8 strokes on the greens. He led the field in SG: T2G at this course last season and just needs a nice weekend putting to be in contention.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Luke List odds:
- Win: (0.125u: +10000)
- Top-5: (0.125u: +1600)
- Top-10: (0.25u: +750)
- Top-20: (0.25u: +330)
Houston Open Head-To-Heads
Tony Finau (-110) vs. Aaron Wise
This is more of a course-fit handicap. Finau ranks 2nd in this field for SG in the comp courses and 1st for Texas-based golf courses. Whereas Wise is 115th for SG in the comp courses and 70th in the Texas-based courses.
Furthermore, aside from last week’s missed cut at Mayakoba, Finau is one of the hottest golfers in the world. Per DataGolf.com, Finau is the 3rd-best player in the world over his last five events behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.
The bottom line is Finau can be mentioned among the best in the world currently and Wise cannot.
Lee Hodges (-110) vs. Wyndham Clark
Hodges ranks 16th in my Houston Open power rankings and Clark is 59th. Clark is losing strokes T2G, APP, ARG, and Putting over his last five events. Hodges is 9th in this field for total SG over the last 24 rounds.
Also, Clark ranks 91st in SG: T2G at courses longer than 7,400 yards, 98th in Good Drives Gained, 122nd in SG: APP, and 93rd in SG: Par 3. While Hodges is 8th for my KPIs at Memorial Park.
Final Bet Slip
- Hideki Matsuyama: Win, Top-5 & Top-10 (1.5u)
- Russell Henley: Win, Top-5 & Top-10 (1u)
- Justin Rose: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (1u)
- Luke List: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (0.75u)
- Lee Hodges (-110) > Wyndham Clark
- Tony Finau (-110) > Aaron Wise
2022 World Wide Technology Championship At Mayakoba (+13.35u)
Win & Picks To Place
- Russell Henley🥇: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (+17.65u)💰💰💰
- Billy Horschel (T56): Win, Top-5 & Top-10 (-1u) ❌
- Tom Hoge (Missed Cut): Win, Top-5 & Top-10 (-1u) ❌
- Aaron Wise > Maverick McNealy (-1.3u) ❌
- Viktor Hovland > Scottie Scheffler (-1u) ❌
FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
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