PGA Tour Picks: Houston Open Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
Kevin Na put on a putting clinic at TPC Summerlin last week in Las Vegas to win the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in a playoff over another former champion in Patrick Cantlay. He three-putted on the second playoff hole, and that opening is all Na needed to win the tournament for the second time. He shot 23-under 261 this time as in 2011 but didn't need a playoff back then. Wouldn't have needed one this time, either, but for a triple-bogey on the 10th hole Sunday.
The PGA Tour has been tracking putts since ShotLink debuted in 2003, and last week Na - a Las Vegas resident -- set the Tour record for total length of putts made at 558 feet, 11 inches over the regulation 72 holes. It was Na's third victory in the last 15 months and fourth overall on the PGA Tour. He joined Jim Furyk as the only multiple winners in Las Vegas. Cantlay was runner-up in this tournament for the second straight year. He just missed a winning putt on his 72nd hole.
I didn't touch on Na but recommended Cantlay at +110 for a Top 10. Also liked Chesson Hadley at a long price for a Top 10, but he was T18. My winning choice wasn't so wise as Scott Piercy missed the cut after rounds of 70-71.
This week, the Tour makes the first of a handful of stops this season the Lone Star State with the Houston Open. You might be straining to wonder who won last season's Houston Open the week before the Masters … but there wasn't a tournament.
From 2007-18, it had been played the week before the Masters - with the course set up as best as possible to mimic Augusta National -- and was the last chance for players not already qualified to get in the year's first major with a victory. England's Ian Poulter did just that with his victory over Beau Hossler in the spring of 2018. However, this event lost its sponsor Shell (after 2017) and because one couldn't be found in time for the 2018-19 schedule, the Houston Open was no longer.
However, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and the Astros Foundation stepped in to bring this tournament back this year in the fall - the event (which now has a logo similar to the Astros) has a five-year contract with the PGA Tour. The Astros Foundation is a non-profit, so it's using a consortium of local sponsors for financial support of the tournament.
This will be the last year, though, it will be played at the par-72, 7,440-yard Golf Club of Houston's Tournament course. In 2020, it will move to renovated Memorial Park, which allegedly is going to be the best course in the area and one of the best in the state.
One interesting sponsor exemption this week is going to University of Texas sophomore Cole Hammer, the top-ranked amateur in the world. He qualified for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old and won the Phil Mickelson Award as last season's NCAA freshman of the year.
Not a great field overall with a total of three former major winners: Henrik Stenson, Texas native Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner. Lot of big names are skipping this week ahead of the Tour's swing through Asia starting next week. Walker owns a share of the 18-hole record of 63 at the Golf Club of Houston.
Golf Odds: Houston Open Favorites
The biggest-name player in the field is Stenson and he's your +900 favorite at Bovada. He has four Top-10 finishes here, including runner-up in 2016 (by one shot to Jim Herman) and '13 (by one shot to D.A. Points).
Brian Harman is +2000 with Cameron Champ, Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler all +2200. Champ won two weeks ago in Napa, Calif., and makes his debut in Houston. Berger was 18th the last time he played Houston and fifth the previous two years. Scheffler is making his tournament debut. Harman comes off a T18 last week and missed the cut last time he played Houston in 2017.
Golf Odds: Houston Open Picks
Don't be surprised if there's a playoff as there has been one in 24 out of 73 times at the Houston Open. Only the U.S. Open has had more playoffs on the PGA Tour.
We like Stenson (+185) and former champion Russell Henley (+350) for Top 10s. He has finished T10 five straight times in Houston. Thought about him as the winner, but he's not playing great right now. We'll go with Berger. He was T18 last week.
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