Golf betting tips: Preview and tips for the 2021 Houston Open
The Houston Open began in 1946 and historically has been played at several Houston venues. This will be the second year that the Houston Open will be played at the recently renovated Memorial Park Golf Course.
From 2007 to 2018, the Houston Open was the pre-Masters warm up, but in 2019 the event was moved to the fall seris of tournaments. Shell Oil Company sponsored the event from 1992 through 2017. When the end of Shell’s sponsorship was announced, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane led a group of new sponsors who signed a five-year deal with the PGA Tour to ensure that the event stayed in Houston. The tournament is now operated under the Astros Foundation, under the umbrella Astros Golf Foundation.
Memorial Park Golf Course was originally constructed in 1912 as a nine hole course, expanding to 18 holes in 1936. It is currently Houston’s most popular municipal course and hosts some 60,000 rounds per year.
Tom Doak designed the privately funded $15 million renovation of Memorial Park. His brief was to make it an exciting venue for the PGA Tour’s Houston Open, while keeping the course playable for the recreational golfer. The project was funded by the Astros Golf Foundation.
What we’ve done is a complete renovation. We dug up every hole, every green, every tee box. We took out the old irrigation system and old drainage system and put in new irrigation, new drainage.”Giles Kibbe, President of the Astros Golf Foundation
Doak was joined by player consultant Brooks Koepka in redesigning the municipal course. Koepka advised on ideas and subtle nuances to make the course more challenging for the world’s best golfers. The course will play as a 7,412 yard Par 70, with five Par 3’s and three Par 5’s.
Memorial Park is a typical Doak design, generous fairways and alternate paths to get to the greens. There is a good selection of varying hole lengths including some drivable Par’4s.
Tee boxes and fairways were moved to bring the ravines into play on the front nine. Some greens were moved also so that trees could be an obstacle for players who drive in the rough.
The number of bunkers was reduced from 50 to 19, three of which are on the 18th hole. Fairways were re-contoured and more undulation introduced to the greens. Green orientations, shapes and sizes have all changed making for a better and more varied choice of pin-placements.
The irrigation pond located between holes 11 and 16 was tripled in size. The result is that water is now a factor in the closing holes especially on the Par 5 16th with water all along the right hand side. It also has water across the front of the green and to both sides.
2020 Houston Open | Carlos Ortiz
Last year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free -5 (65) in the final round for a -13 (267) total and his maiden PGA Tour victory. The 29 year old needed two putts for the win on his 72nd hole but only required one. He holed a 20-foot birdie putt for a two-stroke victory over Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama. With the win, he became the third player from Mexico to win on the PGA Tour.
“I made some huge putts on the front nine, that kickstarted my round, and after that I played really good, I didn’t miss many shots, and it was awesome finishing with the birdie on 18.”Carlos Ortiz
Greenside is where all the magic happened for Ortiz. He finished 3rd in Strokes Gained Around-The-Green which equated to a gain of 5.684 strokes. He also finished 5th in Strokes Gained Putting which yielded a gain of 6.111 strokes or just under 40% of his overall gain. Other stats include T76 for Driving Accuracy, 27th for Driving Distance, T9 for GIR and T57 for Putts per GIR.
2019 Houston Open | Lanto Griffin
In 2019, a 31 year old Lanto Griffin captured his maiden victory at the Houston Open. He closed with a final round -3 (69) at the Golf Club of Houston for a total score of -14 (274). It was enough for the California native to finish two shots clear of both Scott Harrington and Mark Hubbard.
“This is going to be a week that I’ll never, never forget, regardless what happens the rest of my career. I feel very fortunate beyond words.”Lanto Griffin
All elements to his game was on point. He finished inside the Top 10 for both Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and Strokes Gained Putting. Other stats for the tournament include T46 for Driving Accuracy, 7th for Driving Distance, T48 for GIR and 1st for Putts per GIR.
2018 Houston Open | Ian Poulter
The 2018 edition of the tournament saw Ian Poulter sink a 20-foot birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Beau Hossler. He sealed the victory with a par on the first extra hole and secured the final berth in the Masters that year. It was the Englishman’s third victory on Tour and first since the 2012 WGC HSBC Champions.
Tee-to-green is where Poulter excelled and in particular on approach. He finished the week 3rd in the Strokes Gained Approach-The-Green category, gaining 7.231 strokes on the field average for the week. Other stats for the week include 3rd for Driving Accuracy, 61st for Driving Distance, T4 for GIR and 15th for Strokes Gained Putting.
2017 Houston Open | Russell Henley
The 2017 champion, Russell Henley, came from four shots back in the final round to win his 3rd PGA Tour title. He had a final round -7 (65), which included 10 birdies, to give him a three stroke victory over Sung-hoon Kang.
Henley finished 1st for Strokes Gained Putting gaining an impressive 12.514 strokes over the four rounds. His game tee-to-green was non-too-shabby either yielding another 7.183 strokes for the week. Henley finished the week T4 for Driving Accuracy, 29th for Driving Distance, T4 for GIR and 1st for Putts per GIR.
2016 Houston Open | Jim Herman
In 2016, a 38 year old Jim Herman held off a packed leader board to capture his maiden victory. He chipped in for birdie on the Par 3 16th and finished with two pars for a final round -4 (68). It was enough to give him a one stroke victory over Henrik Stenson with Dustin Johnson a further shot back.
“This is crazy, I’ve dreamt of this for so long, and now it’s here. So I’m going to enjoy it.”Jim Herman
Herman finished the week 40th for Driving Distance, T16 for Driving Accuracy, T10 for GIR and T4 in Putts per GIR.
Like most weeks, those players hitting full shots while in tune with distance and accuracy should rise to the top. Hitting it stiff will be key, especially with players on a learning curve in reading the relatively unfamiliar greens.
Scoring will ultimately be influenced by two key factors. How fast the greens run on the stimpmeter and the Texas winds.
Expect players in the mix to have a high percentage of greens in regulation, top-notch putting and a low scoring average on the Par 5s.
Houston Open Tips
Matthew Wolff 25/1 (E/W) – teeing it up for the first time in the Houston Open, which is no ‘biggie’ considering it is only the second year being played at Memorial Park. His results so far this season read T17 in the Sanderson Farms Championship, 2nd in the Shriners Hospitals Open and a T5 in last weeks World Wide Technology Championship. On his way to a T5 last week, the California native shot a bogey free course record 61. Statistically balanced, he places inside the Top 10 in this week’s Stats Analysis. He is also 18th on Tour for Strokes Gained Putting and 2nd for Scoring Average. Looks to be in a good place after his self imposed break last season for mental health issues. No doubting he is back and looking dangerous.
Talor Gooch 25/1 (E/W) – sticking with the ‘Gooch‘ again this week. Finished solo 4th in last year’s Houston Open which was played for the first time at Memorial Park. Has teed it up four times this season with his results reading T4–T11–T5 & T15. His performance last week in Mexico promised so much more, but putting woes in the final round thwarted what could have been a big week for the 29 year old. Places 4th in this week’s Stats Analysis, he is also 15th on Tour for GIR and 5th for Scoring Average. Will there be scar tissue from last week’s final round woes? Maybe. However, he still places inside the Top 7 for Event Form, Current Form and Stats Analysis. With strong form and stats, coupled with plenty room off the tee, makes him too hard to ignore.
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