Houston Open Fantasy Golf Preview

Houston Open Fantasy Golf Preview

It Was All Go At The Techno

After a disappointing week or two, we had a decent week last week and appeared to be on the road to returning to winning ways. Our must-have pick Justin Thomas led the way for us as he finished in third place behind back-to-back winner Viktor Hovland. Thomas was always on the cusp but never quite within striking distance to mount a serious challenge.

Our Steady Eddie, Russell Henley, was just that, finishing in the middle of the pack in a tie for 56th. He started the tournament well and was in contention after the second day. However, a dreadful third round meant he came up short. Dahmen did relatively well for a long shot and finished in a tie for 45th.

He had a terrific opening round but couldn’t quite muster up anything like what he showed on day one in the following three rounds. Finally, McDowell was the biggest disappointment of the four players as he failed to make the cut. He started pretty well on day one, but a triple-bogey derailed him, and he never quite recovered.

Our attention turns to the Houston Open this week, as we look to build on our performance last week and get back in the win column. We will begin, as always, by taking a look at the history of the tournament as we start to build this week’s BeerLife profile.

The History

“When Byron Nelson (left) won in 1946, he just edged out Ben Hogan (center) and Sam Snead for the title. That marked the only time those three Hall of Famers finished 1-2-3 in a tournament.” (Photo courtesy of NBC Sports.)

As one of the Tour’s original four Texas stops, With its first teeing off in 1946, the Houston Open is one of the longest-running PGA Tour events. Since its inception, it has had star power, with Byron Nelson winning by two strokes over Ben Hogan in the first year and South African legend Bobby Locke winning in the second. Cary Middlecoff, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Curtis Strange, Payne Stewart, Raymond Floyd, Vijay Singh, and Phil Mickelson were among the other champions.

Singh and Strange are the only players who have won three times, with Palmer and Middlecoff winning twice. The Houston Open was held the week before The Masters from 2007 through 2020, and it was the last chance to get into the field at Augusta National. The Valero Texas Open in San Antonio has moved to the fall portion of the schedule and now occupies that place.

The tournament has always been held in Houston, but it has moved around between multiple locations, with The Woodlands (1975-2002) and The Golf Club of Houston (2003-2019) serving as the most recent mainstays. In 2020, it will relocate to a newly refurbished and repaired Memorial Park Golf Course, which has hosted the event since 1951.

Let’s turn our attention to the form of the previous five winners, analyze their rounds and see if we can find some crucial links to begin our BeerLife profile.

Past Results

2021 Carlos Ortiz – 267 – Form 35/48/CUT/CUT
2020 Lanto Griffin – 274 – Form 18/17/11/13
2018 Ian Poulter – 269 – Form 5/41/CUT/CUT
2017 Russell Henley – 268 – Form 45/9/43/16
2016 Jim Herman – 273 – Form 63/CUT/CUT/17

The Course

The Houston Open appeared to be on its last legs for a few years. After bouncing around from golf course to golf course, the tournament was on life support. It lost essential backers. And when the event was moved to the fall, all hope was lost. However, in 2018, two significant events occurred. First, the Houston Astros Foundation came in to financially salvage the tournament. Second, they negotiated with the city of Houston that the PGA Tour would visit Downtown Houston if they renovated one of America’s most iconic public golf courses.

In walks Tom Doak, a famed architect with a keen eye for detail when it comes to golf course design. Tom Doak is a protégé of Pete Dye and has a strong influence from Augusta National’s creator, Alister MacKenzie. He’s in charge of several bucket-list golf venues all over the world. Relocating greens closer to natural waste areas and gullies was one of the more noticeable changes. These areas were hidden by dense forest. These trees were cut down to construct greens around them, creating a more scenic and challenging environment.

In addition, the golf course has a shortage of bunkers in general. This is on purpose. The course also has only one significant water hazard found on the 16th and 17th holes. Again, this was done on purpose, just with the lack of bunkers, because they’re unneeded eye candy for professionals. The greenery around the building was also altered. The rough surrounding the greens was cut down instead of being profound. Overall, Memorial Parks appears to be the ideal blend of a challenging track for professionals and a layout that is very playable and fun for amateurs.

The weather looks good this week in Houston. There might be a slight breeze on the opening and final days, but nothing that should trouble these professionals.

The Field

The field in Houston may be weak in terms of elite stars, with Brooks Koepka the lone true headliner, but it is exceptionally deep in the upper-middle class of the Tour. In fact, from No. 12 Tony Finau and No. 23 Patrick Reed through No. 33 Max Homa and No. 41 Adam Scott, there are 25 players listed in the top 40 spots in the Official Golf World Rankings.

Sam Burns (No. 16), Tyrrell Hatton (19), Scottie Scheffler (21), Sungjae Im (23), Joaquin Niemann (30), Matthew Wolff (31), Lee Westwood (37), and defending champion Carlos Ortiz (No. 49) are among the top-50 ranked names to watch. Other well-known names in Houston include Aaron Wise, Gary Woodland, Henrik Stenson, Shane Lowry, Marc Leishman, Jason Day, and Ryan Palmer.

Key Stats

We run each player in the field through our BeerLife profile analysis to come up with our selections. This is what we are looking for this week:

Setting the hole up from the off – The fairways were hit at a low rate last year, and therefore trying to position yourself well off the tee could be vital once again.

SG: Off-The-Tee

  1. Rory McIlroy
  2. Eugenio Chacarra
  3. Ryan Palmer
  4. Austin Smotherman
  5. Jordan Spieth

Go long – It’s no surprise that a golf course that Brooks Koepka helped design requires distance off the tee. No golfer outside of the top ten last year finished with an average distance off the tee less than 297 yards.

Driving Distance

  1. Cameron Young
  2. Wyndham Clark
  3. Joseph Bramlett
  4. Byeong Hun An
  5. Xander Schauffele

Playing the tough rough – With a lack of bunkers on the golf course, the greens are guarded by heavy rough. As a result, players will need to perform well around the greens to get up and down this week.

SG: Around-The-Green

  1. Jim Knous
  2. Rory Sabbatini
  3. Sungjae Im
  4. Danny Willett
  5. Sanghun Shin

Approaching the right way – With the above in mind, it will help to avoid the rough around the greens in the first place.

Approaches From 200-225

  1. Kevin Stadler
  2. Ben Martin
  3. Collin Morikawa
  4. Bo Hoag
  5. Garrick Higgo

Draft Picks

After looking at the above data and running the field through our Beerlife profile builder, we have selected the following picks.

Must-Have Players – These are the players you need to have in your lineup regardless of the price.

Sungjae Im
Odds To Win +2000
DraftKings $10,700
FanDuel $11,900
The young Korean has started this season in superb fashion by lifting the Shriners Children’s Open trophy and placing ninth at the CJ Cup the last time we saw him. This is reflected in his scoring stats which are arguably the best so far this season. He is deadly off the tee, ranks sixth on Tour for greens in regulation this season, and has one of the best wedge games in the world. He can be erratic at times with the putter, but he could go close this week if he gets in a good rhythm early. He has also made the cut in his previous 12 tournaments, making him an ideal candidate for your fantasy lineup.

Steady Eddies – These guys should give a good account of themselves and are good additions to your lineup.

Ryan Palmer
Odds To Win +13000
DraftKings $7,100
FanDuel $8,700
While the world number 41 hasn’t set the world alight this season, he seems overpriced to win this. He has made steady progress in all three events this season, so he is heading in the right direction. While he doesn’t have the best track record in this tournament, he did place seventh here in 2014. He is the type of player who is either brilliant or shockingly bad. There appears to be no in-between with Ryan Palmer. However, if he’s on it and we catch him right then, he could be an excellent addition to any fantasy roster. His approach game is solid, and it has to be, as let’s face it, he doesn’t have the greatest putting stats, does he?

Long Shots – These gentlemen will complete a lineup if you’re on a budget but could spring one of two surprises.

Wyndham Clark
Odds To Win +20000
DraftKings $6,600
FanDuel $7,400
Clark is consistently one of the biggest hitters on Tour, which means he is always a player worth having on the longer courses. However, this season he appears to be adding some consistency to his all-around game, possibly as he matures as a golfer. He has only played here once, which was last year, and he had a torrid time. However, I believe he is a better golfer one year on, and he has added accuracy off the tee as well as length. He averages 325 yards off the tee, which gives him a head start on almost half of the holes on most courses. His approach play won’t be the best, but it has never had to be superb given the distance he finds off the tee. However, it is improving, and his wedge game is pretty decent too.
Joseph Bramlett
Odds To Win +30000
DraftKings $6,200
FanDuel $7,500
After a steady start to the season, Bramlett has fallen short in recent weeks and missed the cut in his previous three events. However, when you look at his stats for the season, it’s hard to see why he is failing so badly. He can hit the ball a long way, yes he isn’t always the most accurate, but his approach game can certainly get him out of a tough spot. You could say he needs to improve finishing holes off, which could come down to his game management. By this, I mean he needs to make better decisions at crucial times. This usually improves with experience.
Freelance Sports Writer | + posts

Hey Guys

My name is Dean, AKA The Stat Man. I am a Sports Betting Analyst who uses math, algorithms, probability and logic to create my posts. I specialize in many sports, with Golf being the primary focus. You can find a lot of my work on various websites but the best content is found here on Beer Life.

I live in the UK, on the outskirts of London but my background and heritage is Irish. I'm an avid Manchester United fan who sees following them as a religion. Sport is pretty much my life, as I live and breathe it daily. If there is something I don't know it's probably not worth knowing as I have over 20 years industry experience and insight.

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