How good is Dustin Johnson's life right now? He's married to the gorgeous Paulina Gretzky and gets to hang around father-in-law and the greatest hockey player ever in Wayne Gretzky whenever he wants. Oh, and DJ's playing some pretty decent golf these days.
Johnson solidified himself as the Masters favorite by winning the World Golf Championships-Match Play in Austin on Sunday for his third straight tournament win - no one had done that on Tour since Rory McIlroy in 2014. Johnson beat Jon Rahm 2&1 in Sunday's championship final to complete the WGC career grand slam after also taking the WGC-Mexico Championship earlier in March. Not even Tiger Woods has completed that slam. No one else has. It was Johnson's 15th career win and fifth WGC title. Johnson played 112 holes in Austin and never trailed at any point. That's just silly. Johnson won 46 and lost 23 holes for the week.
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Johnson had advanced to the final earlier Sunday with a 1 up semifinal victory over Japan's Hideto Tanihara. On the other side of the bracket, the Spaniard Rahm beat American Bill Haas 3&2. Haas would beat Tanihara in the third-place match. Johnson was the +900 second-favorite last week to McIlroy, and I wasn't super-high on DJ with a so-so match play record. My value pick last week was England's Paul Casey at +3000. Casey did win his group, which paid out at +180, but lost to Tanihara 2&1 in the Round of 16.
By advancing into the weekend rounds of the Match Play, both Tanihara and Ross Fisher jumped into the Top 50 of the final Official World Golf Ranking in which players qualify for the Masters. There are now 94 invitees to Augusta, with a final spot available to the winner of this week's Houston Open if said player hasn't already qualified.
Johnson had skipped the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago so he didn't have to play three weeks in a row heading into the Masters. That's because Johnson had planned to play the Houston Open, but he decided to pull out Monday. DJ was third in Houston last year. He's not hurt or anything, but no reason to play this week after all that golf in Austin.
Some golfers insist on playing tournament golf the week before a major and others prefer to practice at their home course or at the location of said major. The Golf Club of Houston is a par 72 measuring at 7,441 yards, and it is set up as best as possible to replicate Augusta National. By that, meaning how the fairways and greens are cut, etc. The greens will have a Stimpmeter of 13 or higher, which is Augusta-like. That said, just two winners of the Houston Open have even placed among the Top 15 at the Masters since it became the lead-in event in 2007.
The defending champion is little-known Jim Herman, who earned a spot at the Masters with his first career Tour win. He edged Henrik Stenson by a shot at 15-under 273 after Stenson missed an 18-foot birdie putt on his 72 nd hole. Herman was the fourth player to punch a Masters ticket with a win in Houston the past decade. As of this writing, 30 players in the field already have qualified for the Masters. This the 26th and final tournament with Shell Oil Company as the title sponsor.
Golf Odds: Houston Open Favorites
Texas native Jordan Spieth, a guy I thought might play well last week in his college town of Austin, is the +650 Bovada favorite . Spieth was knocked out of the match play on Friday. He played a practice round at Augusta National on Monday with Tom Brady. Spieth was a runner-up in Houston in 2015 and was 13th last year.
Rahm is +1000 and Stenson +1200 . Rahm's third-place finish last week was his fourth Top 5 in his past five events. It's his debut in Houston. Stenson took last week off and surprisingly missed the cut the event before that at the Arnold Palmer. He had that second here last year and in 2013. He was third in 2009.
Rickie Fowler (+1400), Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson (both +2000) round out the top guys. Fowler has a best result of sixth here in 2014. Rose's best is 14th in 2010. Lefty usually plays well in Houston (just like Augusta) and won in 2011.
Golf Odds: Houston Open Picks
For a Top 10, I like Stenson (+125), Mickelson (+200), J.B. Holmes (+300) and Russell Henley (+325). Also like Stenson at +250 as top European. Go Matt Jones at +700 as top Aussie over Adam Scott (even). Jones won here in 2014.
Head-to-head, I like Henley (-150) over Patrick Cantlay (+115), Patrick Reed (-120) over Matt Kuchar (-110), Holmes (-125) over Daniel Berger, Mickelson (-130) over Scott (even), Fowler (-150) over Rose (+115), and Stenson (-110) over Rahm (-120).
As of now, there are no Bovada prop options of the top couple of guys vs. the field. Henley seems due here as he has three straight Top 7 finishes in Houston. But Holmes is the pick at +3300. He won here in 2015 and has three other Top 15s in Houston, including a runner-up in 2009. Holmes finished a solid T12 in Mexico in his last stroke-play start.
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