PGA Tour Picks: Shell Houston Open Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/27/2013
Frankly, I would have been embarrassed to head into the Masters not having picked a winner on the PGA Tour this season despite coming close a few times. Thanks to Tiger Woods, I no longer have to type with a bag over my head.
Tiger tied Sam Snead’s single-event record with his eighth win at Bay Hill, which had to be finished on Monday due to a Sunday storm in Orlando. Woods won by dominating the par 5s, playing those in a total of 14 under (+1 on all other holes). It was the fifth straight time Tiger won while holding the lead entering the final round, Tiger’s third win already this season and sixth in his past 19 stroke-play events on the PGA Tour. He’s also back to No. 1 for the first time since late October 2010 (he had dropped as low as No. 58) and has new EA Sports and Nike commercials. All is right in the golf world.
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Tiger went off as the 11/4 favorite and was my choice, and you probably aren’t going to get him at that long of odds again for a while. I also took yes on Tiger with a Top-10 finish (-400) and Justin Rose (+150), who finished runner-up. I did miss on Sergio Garcia (+150), who hit a memorable shot one-handed backward out of a tree and eventually withdrew. You also got Tiger at +300 to be No. 1 after the tournament. On the head-to-head, I hit on Woods (-250) over Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood (-120) over Webb Simpson.
This week the Tour heads to Texas for the first time in 2013 for the Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club in Humble. This year is a bit different in that the Houston Open isn’t the final tournament before the Masters; next week’s Valero Texas Open has been slotted in before Augusta. I’m really not sure why the Tour did this – it’s just a one-year deal apparently -- as Redstone annually overseeds its course and mows and shapes its greens to approximate conditions each year at Augusta National Golf Club. Par-72 Redstone measures 7,441 yards, just six more than Augusta. Redstone also measured No. 1 in Tour last year in scrambling from the rough, which is a must to win the Masters.
This is the final week for players to get into the Top 50 in the world to qualify for the Masters. Otherwise a player would have to win next week – but in reality most big names are using this week as their final Augusta tune-up. You won’t see Tiger, but you will see Rory McIlroy as he tries to get his game in gear for Augusta. Perhaps he will be duly motivated now that Woods passed him in the rankings and apparently sent him a motivational text. McIlroy did have his best round of the year (65) last time he played, at Doral. He, Mickelson and defending champion Hunter Mahan lead 11 of the world’s Top 25 in this year’s field.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Shell Houston Favorites
McIlroy is the 9/1 favorite at Bovada, but that seems awfully optimistic over one good round all year. He hasn’t played here since 2010, when he missed the cut. I’m not touching him to win.
Keegan Bradley is next at 12/1. He’s playing terrific golf right now as last week’s T3 at Bay Hill was his third straight Top-10 finish and third Top 5 this year. Bradley has played here the past two years, with a best of fourth in 2012.
Mahan, Mickelson and Steve Stricker round out the favorites at 16/1. Mahan shot a final-round 1-under 71 last year to edge Carl Pettersson by one stroke and become the first two-time champion on the Tour in 2012. I don’t like Mahan to win considering this event has had one back-to-back winner in its history (Vijay Singh in 2004-05) and Mahan has had just one Top-10 stroke-play finish in 2013.
Lefty didn’t play well at Bay Hill last week, missing the cut, but he rarely does. He won here two years ago and was fourth in 2012. He's shot 10 straight rounds under par at Redstone Country Club. Stricker has played only two stroke-play events this year and finished runner-up in both. He took last week off. Stricker has three Top-10 results in 11 trips to the Houston Open.
PGA Tour Picks: Shell Houston Open Predictions
On the yes-only Top-10 props, I like Bradley, Stricker (both +120) and Westwood (+250). Head-to-head, go with Bradley (-120) over Mahan (-110), Mickelson (-120) over Brandt Snedeker (-110), Westwood (-120) over Bill Haas (-110) and Stricker (even) over McIlroy.
I really wish there was a prop on Geoff Ogilvy to finish in the Top 10. The Aussie is currently No. 50 in the world and thus will need a good result to avoid falling out and missing out on the Masters. In his past six starts at Redstone, he four Top-10 finishes, including a runner-up in 2008. It’s worth putting some money down on him at 66/1 to win and definitely at 9/2 as the top Australian.
However, I almost have to take an American this week. They have won all 13 PGA Tour events this year and 15 straight dating to the end of the 2012 season. Charles Howell III is interesting at 50/1 as he needs a very good result to get into the Top 50 in the world. He hasn’t had much success at Houston, however.
Stricker is very tempting but I like Mickelson. He usually thrives on courses like this (and Augusta) which demand a deft touch around the green. Few are better than Lefty, who needs to get his game going for the Masters.
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