Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. However, finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they select a champion.
Below, we will cover the best bets for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Last year we were introduced to Memorial Park, a municipal course in Houston that stepped up to the big leagues and held its own far better than some of the other virgin courses that have featured on Tour over the past few years. This was no Detroit Golf Club or TPC Twin Cities -- the cut was several strokes over par and only three golfers on the week cracked double digits under par, even with 11 rounds of 65 or better on Sunday. At a par 70 and over 7,400 yards long, this is a real test.
We can't read too much into one year's results, but the feeling we can't shake is that this course is tough and we need golfers with touch on and around the greens. The greens are larger than average compared to others on the PGA Tour, and with the next two Masters champions in the mix here it's hard not to think that managing big undulating putting surfaces makes a big difference this week.
For more info on Memorial Park Golf Course, along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out the numberFire course primer.
At the Top
Sam Burns (+1500) - Burns is the rightful favorite this week, and that the next man up is also the one who took his last spot on the Ryder Cup team only serves to highlight the point. Burns has wins now in consecutive seasons, both in calendar 2021, and the list of golfers outside the top 5-10 super elites is incredibly short. The aforementioned next man up, Scottie Scheffler (+1600), is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory. No longer just "Bermuda Burns", the 25-year-old is a threat just about anywhere. The driver and short game were always solid, and improved iron play has put him over the edge. He was seventh here last year despite not having his best stuff on and around the greens. The current form is even better, with a win in Mississippi followed by a 14th and 5th over two weeks in Las Vegas.
Tony Finau (+2500) - Not exactly a fit with our short game narrative, but Finau has fared well at Augusta over the years and from a talent standpoint is clearly among the best players here. The putting has been all over the place to start the year -- according to stats from Fantasy National Golf Club, Finau's strokes gained: putting figures for his last four measured events read minus-5.9, minus-4.1, plus-6.0, and plus-4.0. Those two good performances were his win at THE NORTHERN TRUST and a T15 at the BMW Championship, so quite a ways behind us. Distance is not absolutely essential here but it of course helps, and Finau can mash it with just about anybody in this field.
Patrick Reed (+3600) - The form since contracting COVID-19 prior to last year's Playoffs has not been there aside from a runner-up at the alternate event in Bermuda, and Reed's participation in that event demonstrates that he acknowledges needing reps. He keeps teeing it up so there should be no worry about fitness or injury, he's just trying to get his feel back. The mid-range this week is largely a mix of big names out of form and risers who look a tad overpriced. Among the former group, we'll side with Reed, whose short game is a strength and who has had success on longer courses despite a lack of elite distance off the tee. He's a proven winner who gets on the board just about every season, and the number just looks too good for what we know Reed can do.
Marc Leishman (+4100) - We know Leishman doesn't mind the wind and can catch fire with the putter, and like Reed, he can hold his own on long courses without elite distance. A good record at the Masters and a win at Torrey Pines are proof enough, and with consecutive top-fives to start the season we look to be safely out of the doldrums he'd been in this time last year. He gained more than seven strokes putting in each of those events, but Leishman is good for those types of performances with some regularity. At 41/1 he's long enough to justify a stab at a Top 5 Finish (+850).
Russell Henley (+4700) - A Houston Open (nee Shell Open) god once upon a time, Henley had claim, at one point, to be among the very best putters in the world. The touch faded just as his iron play caught on, and the time may have passed where he could marry the two with any consistency. He gained 5.9 strokes around and on the greens but stumbled to the finish at the Wyndham Championship, settling for 7th and missing the playoff party. Since then he's played four events with putting performances of minus-6.1, minus-2.5, minus-1.3, and minus-5.1 before the unmeasured event at Mayakoba. He gained 5.2 or more on approaches in three of those four events, and in a repeat of last year, he's the early leader in strokes gained: approach. If he can drum up putting magic, it might as well be in Houston.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+6000) - Bezuidenhout is the short game star this week, arguably in the conversation for both best putter and best chipper in this field. He had to make a stop on the Korn Ferry Tour to get status, and after a 3rd at the Korn Ferry Championship, he went back overseas and managed at 10th in the BMW PGA Championship, one of the premier European Tour events. He stopped in Bermuda for a lackluster T57 before returning to the mainland and finishing T15 at Mayakoba.