Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Houston Open Tips 2024

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Congratulations if you were on Peter Malnati at the Valspar Championship at Monday prices up to 250/1 with 8 places each-way built in. Malnati takes the 2024 trend of long-price winners well into spring with 150/1 (Kirk), 400/1 (Murray), 300/1 (Dunlap), 125/1 (Pavon), 70/1 (Clark), 100/1 (Taylor), 80/1 (Matsuyama), 50/1(Knapp), 100/1 (Eckroat), 150/1 (Garnett) and 250/1 (Malnati). Only Scottie Scheffler – who else – with wins at 13/2 and 11/2 bucks the 2024 PGA Tour betting cycle to this point.

With only 3 weeks to go now until The Masters, the PGA Tour moves from the Sunshine State to the Lone Star State. This week we have the freshly-sponsored Texas Children’s Houston Open. 3 years ago this event was the curtain-raiser for The Masters in November and was played for the first time at Memorial Park Golf Course. Now reinstated from the autumn to its traditional spring schedule spot, Tournament organisers the Astros Foundation, led by Astros owner Jim Crane, work hard to generate a quality field. 2024 sees Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Will Zalatoris, Si Woo Kim, Jason Day and defending champion Tony Finau in the field.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the Texas Children’s Houston Open, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System as The Masters approaches. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System Podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,300 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: The Houston Open from 2003 through 2019 was played at Golf Club of Houston (formerly Redstone GC), on a Par 72 course which featured many Florida set-up traits. Winners there included Fred Couples, Vijay Singh (x2), Adam Scott, Paul Casey, Anthony Kim, Phil Mickelson, J.B. Holmes, Russell Henley and Ian Poulter, traditionally the week before The Masters.

2020 saw a move to Memorial Park Golf Course, which had received a $19 million renovation funded by Astros owner Jim Crane via the tournament-organising Astros Foundation. The course, crafted by Tom Doak, is not your standard PGA Tour affair, proving difficult to tame.

Memorial Park Golf Course, Houston, Texas: Designer: John Bredemus 1935, with Tom Doak renovation 2019; Course Type: Mid-Score, Long; Par: 70 ; Length: 7,435 yards; Holes with Water Hazards In-Play: 4; Number of Sand Bunkers: 23; Acres of Fairway: 28; Fairways: 419 Bermudagrass overseeded with Perennial Ryegrass; Rough: 419 Bermudagrass overseeded with Perennial Ryegrass 2.5″; Greens: 7,000 sq.ft average featuring MiniVerde Bermuda overseeded with Poa Trivialis; Tournament Stimpmeter 12-12.5ft.

Course Scoring Average:

  • 2020: 71.03 (+1.03), Difficulty Rank 8 of 51 courses.
  • 2021: 70.80 (+0.80), Difficulty Rank 9 of 50 courses.
  • 2022: 70.56 (+0.56), Difficulty Rank 11 of 49 courses.

Course Overview: First thing to point out is that Memorial Park Golf Course is a municipal golf course, which caters for 60,000 rounds per year. Previously a John Bredemus 1935 design, Tom Doak was brought in by tournament sponsor Jim Crane to completely renovate Memorial Park so that it can host both the Houston Open each year and then cater for the amateur player for the other 51 weeks of the year. Doak, with some help from player consultant Brooks Koepka, delivered a +7,400 yard design in just 10 months.

The routing of the course in general is the same as the old course, but Doak has added far more movement in both the fairways and especially around the greens. And his brief was to make Memorial Park an exciting venue for both PGA Tour and leisure golfers alike.

At a freshly extended 7,435 yards – 23 yards added to the par-4 17th hole with the green complex moved back and 2 additional bunkers guarding the green – for a Par 70, the course is long and stretching in length. It’s a pretty quirky set-up as the course features 5 par-3s and 3 par-5s in total. 2 par-5s are on the front 9, with a driveable par-4 – the 13th – on the back side, with a further par-5.

Off the tee, Doak designs tend to feature very generous fairways, and although these are tree-lined, those trees tend to be well back. Rough is pretty penal, although that wasn’t the main defence of this course.

As part of Tom Doak’s brief, the course only features 21 bunkers on the basis that they are easy for Tour pros but difficult for amateurs. Instead there are lots of tight grass slopes, contours and green complex surround slopes which repel approach shots, then requiring a tight lie to an elevated green recovery shot. Pretty perfect for some pre-Masters prep.

The tough, contoured green complexes and associated run-offs and the sheer length of the Par 70 set-up created relative mayhem here in both 2020 and 2021, with Memorial Park playing within the 6 toughest non-Major courses. That eased – but only slightly – in 2022 where thunderstorms on Friday afternoon softened the course.

In March Memorial Park will feature overseed which will provide a much tighter playing surface than the Bermudagrass did last time we were here in 2022. This will undoubtedly highlight the penal green surrounds, while shorter, less intense rough will as per the PGA Tour way these days give more opportunity for aggressive approach shots to the green.

And finally the green surfaces themselves, which at an average 7.000 sq.ft are large and feature MiniVerde UltraDwarf Bermudagrass green complexes, which in March will feature Poa Trivialis overseed. Other current PGA Tour stop-offs with MiniVerde include TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic of New Orleans – with Poa Trivialis) and East Lake (Tour Championship), plus the old Houston Open host course at the GC of Houston, also featured them – although they were Bentgrass overseeded in its April guise.

houston open tips

Houston Open Winners: Hosted at Memorial Park: 2022: Tony Finau (-16); 2021: Jason Kokrak (-10); 2020: Carlos Ortiz (-13); Hosted at Golf Club of Houston: 2019: Lanto Griffin (-14); 2018: Ian Poulter (-19); 2017: Russell Henley (-20); 2016: Jim Herman (-15); 2015: J.B. Holmes (-16); 2014: Matt Jones (-15); 2013: D.A. Points (-16); 2012: Hunter Mahan (-16); 2011: Phil Mickelson (-20); 2010: Anthony Kim (-12).

  • 2022: Tony Finau 65-62-68-69 -16/264
  • 2021: Jason Kokrak 68-71-66-65 -10/270
  • 2020: Carlos Ortiz 67-68-67-65 -13/267

Path to Victory: Below are end of round positions for Houston Open winners since 2020:

  • 2022 – Tony Finau: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2021 – Jason Kokrak: Round 1: 18th, Round 2: 25th, Round 3: 7th.
  • 2020 – Carlos Ortiz: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the Houston Open winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament since 2020:

  • 2022 – Tony Finau: Round 1: level, Round 2: 4 ahead, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 2021 – Jason Kokrak: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 9 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2020 – Carlos Ortiz: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 back.

OWGR of Houston Open Winners at Memorial Park: 2023: Finau 15; 2021: Kokrak 29; 2020: Ortiz 160.

Cut Line: 2022: E; 2021: +1; 2020: +3.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2022: Round 1 -5; Round 2 -13; Round 3 -15; Round -16.
  • 2021: Round 1 -5; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -7; Round 4 -10.
  • 2020: Round 1 -5; Round 2 -7; Round 3 -9; Round 4 -13.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

My published predictor is available here. Top 10 of my published predictor are: Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Keith Mitchell, Si Woo Kim, Alex Noren, Tony Finau, Cameron Champ, Sahith Theegala, Joel Dahmen and Jason Day.

Our brand new predictor model is running alongside, where you can build your own rankings in live time, using the variables listed on the left hand side.

Memorial Park Houston Winners & Prices: 2022: Finau 22/1; 2021: Kokrak 50/1; 2020: Ortiz 160/1. Average: 77/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2022: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 84. Friday: Cloudy. High of 82. Wind SW 8-15 mph. Due to inclement weather, the second round was suspended for the day at
  • 3:26 p.m. Saturday. Saturday: Mostly sunny. High of 60. Wind N 15-25 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 59. Wind E 8-15 mph.
  • 2021: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 79. Wind NW 8-16 mph. Due to inclement weather, the start to the first round was delayed 2 hours, 30 minutes and began at 9:10 a.m. CT. The first round was suspended due to darkness at 5:36 p.m. and resumed at 6:59 a.m. Friday. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 79. Wind NW 8-16 mph. Due to darkness, the second round was suspended for the day at 5:35 p.m. Saturday: Sunny. High of 69. Wind N 6-12 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 77. Wind SSW 6-12 mph.
  • 2020: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 79. Wind SE 4-8 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 80. Wind ENE 6-12 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 81. Wind ENE 5-10 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Wind ESE 6-12 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Houston, Texas is here. Texas golf is synonymous with windy conditions. This week in downtown Houston doesn’t look too bad, but with forecasts predicting 10-15 mph across Friday to Sunday, that’s enough to cause indecision on a Memorial Park set-up which is always a handful. Thursday will be the scoring day with no wind to speak of.

March has been wet with 114mm (4.5 inches) of precipitation, 66mm (2.5 inches) of which was last week. With thunderstorms looking a near certainly for Monday morning of tournament week in Houston, I’d expect a softer course than we have been accustomed to here, especially with the Poa Trivialis overseed. With no more rain forecast, the course though will speed-up throughout. Temperatures will be pleasant at 25-27 degrees Celsius (77-81 Fahrenheit) throughout.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the AT& T Pebble Beach Pro-Am / Bahrain Championship which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events, where recorded. Player rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Rafael Campos; 2) Scottie Scheffler; 3) Kevin Dougherty; 4) Si Woo Kim; 5) Rico Hoey; 6) Alejandro Tosti; 7) Kurt Kitayama / Keith Mitchell; 9) Cameron Champ; 10) Sahith Theegala / Jhonattan Vegas; 12) Norman Xiong; 13) Stephan Jaeger; 14) Wyndham Clark / Beau Hossler; 16) Akshay Bhatia / Alex Noren / Ben Silverman; 19) Adrien Dumont de Chassart; 20) Bud Cauley; 21) Joel Dahmen / Doug Ghim / Nick Hardy; 24) Caron Young; 25) Vincent Norrman / Will Zalatoris.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Tom Hoge; 2) Chandler Phillips / Will Zalatoris; 4) Scottie Scheffler; 5) Wyndham Clark; 6) Stewart Cink; 7) Parker Coody; 8) Taylor Moore; 9) Jake Knapp; 10) Si Woo Kim / Ryan Moore / Sahith Theegala; 13) Rico Hoey / Keith Mitchell; 15) Daniel Berger; 16) Max Greyserman / Jhonattan Vegas; 18) Kurt Kitayama / Davis Thompson; 20) Henrik Norlander; 21) Doug Ghim / Andrew Novak; 23) Bud Cauley / Tony Finau; 25) Victor Perez.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Martin Trainer; 2) Austin Cook / Mackenzie Hughes / Martin Laird; 5) Jason Day; 6) Si Woo Kim; 7) Thorbjorn Olesen / Scottie Scheffler; 9) S.H. Kim; 10) Aaron Baddeley; 11) Ben Griffin; 12) Taylor Montgomery / Andrew Novak; 14) Mark Hubbard / Taylor Moore; 16) Padraig Harrington / Alex Noren; 18) Zac Blair / Wyndham Clark / Roger Sloan / Adam Svensson; 22) C.T. Pan; 23) Robert MacIntyre; 24) Stephan Jaeger / Robby Shelton / Dylan Wu.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Si Woo Kim; 3) Wyndham Clark / Keith Mitchell; 5) Chandler Phillips; 6) Kurt Kitayama; 7) Jason Day / Taylor Moore;  9) Bud Cauley / Tom Hoge; 11) Joel Dahmen; 12) Doug Ghim / Rico Hoey / Sahith Theegala / Will Zalatoris; 16) Stephan Jaeger; 17) Max Greyserman / Andrew Novak; 19) Alex Noren / Davis Thompson / Jhonattan Vegas; 22) Aaron Rai; 23) Jake Knapp / David Skinns; 25) Adam Svensson.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Henrik Norlander; 2) Martin Trainer; 3) Sahith Theegala; 4) Raul Pereda; 5) Taylor Montgomery; 6) Aaron Baddeley; 7) Alex Bjork; 8) Jason Day / Ryan McCormick; 10) Wyndham Clark; 11) Tom Hoge / Jake Knapp; 13) Martin Laird; 14) Peter Malnati; 15) Nick Dunlap; 16) K.H. Lee; 17) Kevin Chappell / Kurt Kitayama / Chandler Phillips; 20) Sam Ryder; 21) Jacob Bridgeman / Beau Hossler; 23) Scottie Scheffler; 24) Cameron Champ / Si Woo Kim / Chad Ramey.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Henrik Norlander; 3) Sahith Theegala; 4) Wyndham Clark; 5) Si Woo Kim; 6) Jason Day / Tom Hoge; 8) Jake Knapp; 9) Kurt Kitayama; 10)  Doug Ghim; 11) Andrew Novak; 12) Alex Noren; 13) Billy Horschel / Martin Laird; 15) Max Greyserman / Keith Mitchell; 17) Taylor Moore; 18) Rafael Campos; 19) Will Zalatoris; 20) Sam Ryder; 21) Tony Finau / Peter Malnati / Ben Silverman; 24) Mark Hubbard / Mackenzie Hughes.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at Memorial Park click here.

Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the Strokes Gained Stats of the Houston Open winners at Memorial Park gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2022, Tony Finau (-16). SG Off the Tee: 2nd, SG Approach: 9th, SG Around the Green: 29th, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 2nd.
  • 2021, Jason Kokrak (-10). SG Off the Tee: 14th, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 67th, SG Tee to Green: 17th, SG Putting: 3rd.
  • 2020, Carlos Ortiz (-13). SG Off the Tee: 31st, SG Approach: 14th, SG Around the Green: 2nd, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 5th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 16th, SG Approach: 8th, SG Around the Green: 33rd, SG Tee to Green: 9th, SG Putting: 3rd.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of Houston Open winners at Memorial Park gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this long, Carolina-type golf course:

  • 2022, Tony Finau (-16). 302 yards (21st), 75.0% fairways (1st), 77.8% greens in regulation (1st), 36’4″ proximity to hole (8th), 68.8 % scrambling (17th), 1.64 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2021, Jason Kokrak (-10). 302 yards (12th), 61.5% fairways (25th), 75.0% greens in regulation (3rd), 38’3″ proximity to hole (20th), 44.4 % scrambling (62nd), 1.59 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2020, Carlos Ortiz (-13). 312 yards (16th), 50.0% fairways (51st), 70.8% greens in regulation (8th), 36″11″ proximity to hole (19th), 85.7 % scrambling (1st), 1.78 putts per GIR (36th).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 16th, Driving Accuracy: 26th, Greens in Regulation: 4th, Proximity to Hole: 16th, Scrambling: 27th, Putting Average 13th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how Memorial Park sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Tony Finau (2022): “Yeah, I think I was patient with myself. I knew the golf course, it’s a tough golf course to play. You have to drive it in the fairway and your work’s not done, it’s hard to hit the greens. You know if you miss the green, it’s hard to get up and down, so I was just patient with myself. I made a couple bombs, I think that kind of opened it up. On No. 2 I made about a 60-footer for birdie and then I had 3 downwind, I think 3’s probably the one hole you can have an opportunity to score. So I think those back-to-back birdies just kind of set me off and on my way on the back nine.

Yeah, I just knew the conditions were going to be tough. You never know what the day’s going to bring. You just try and do your best to hit a shot, one shot at a time. It’s very cliché for guys that are playing well, but it truly is that way. I will say I think it’s easier to play one shot at a time when it’s so tough. You know, the conditions, the wind’s blowing, you really have to focus and hone in on every shot, every putt, so I think I did a good job of that today.

Yeah, I’ve always looked at myself as a good ball-striker and I have no problem hitting the ball low. Those are things that are very good when I play in this Texas wind. I definitely, you know, I don’t mind that the wind is blowing.”

Scottie Scheffler (2021): “I started hitting some fairways. Yesterday I was playing out of the rough most of the time, so it was just nice getting the ball out there in play, give myself some opportunities. This golf course can be pretty challenging from the Bermuda rough and you’ve got to hit the ball in play. If you’re hitting it in the rough to elevated greens that you can’t hold just because you’re hitting knucklers out of the rough, so it was very important to get the ball in the fairway.”

Jason Kokrak (2021): Believe it or not, Colonial’s not a great golf course for me and this is kind of the quintessential golf course for me; long, got to hit a lot of fairways, got to hit the ball high to keep it in some spots on these greens. Outside of the really bad eight, nine holes that I played, I played this golf course pretty outstanding.

Matthew Wolff (2021): “Yeah, it definitely seems like a bomber’s golf course. There’s not too much trouble off the tee. I think 16 is really the only, it’s a par-5, but 16’s really the only hole that you can really have a penalty shot off the tee in my opinion. You can definitely get it into the trees and into the rough and that’s what makes this course hard and that’s its defence. But at the end of the day, I think it’s going to set up really well for me. I’ll be able to hit driver a lot, get to cover a couple things that some people might not be able to.”

Carlos Ortiz (2020): “I think the golf course, it’s really easy to get out of position and when you’re there, you have to think two steps ahead, try to put it where worst you’re going to have a good look for par instead of trying to push it, because once you push it with these greens. I don’t know if you guys have seen them, but they’re pretty undulated and they all fall off, so if you start pushing it, it’s easy to hit it or go over or to the side and you’re going to have a hard time putting it again on the green. I think I’ve taken my medicine especially today, and I honestly didn’t hit that many fairways and I still was able to save some good pars thinking that way.

Jason Day (2020):”Yeah, definitely the back, I feel like the back side’s a little bit tougher. Obviously scoring opportunities, you get two par 5s on the front, a couple shorter holes on the front as well, but if you can try and get yourself at least 1, 2 or 3 under par going through the front side, you can kind of snag maybe one or two and you end up having a pretty decent round. This is very difficult around the greens with that bermudagrass, and the runoffs, they’re very, very inconsistent in regards to bouncing up the slopes. So if you can leave yourself in some decent locations around the greens, you can have a good opportunity at getting up and down pretty easy or you can leave yourself pretty frustrated at the end of the day.”

Brandt Snedeker (2020): “There’s quite a few of them really. You start putting your finger on a few of them. The par-3 15th is going to be really tough by the end of the week. We played it up today, but it’s just a diabolical green so you have to pay attention to that one. No. 13’s another diabolical green, depending on the pin position it can be really tough. Then you have the long holes here, 1’s a long, tough par 4. I think you can just go about every par 4 and they’re all about over 500 yards if they want to be. The Tour did a good job mixing it up today, moved some tees around so didn’t play the full length, which gave us some scoring opportunities. I don’t anticipate that being the case the rest of the week.

Adam Scott (2020): “Yeah. I mean, just generally the course is relentless. It’s just demanding off the tee. It requires something long and straight, and then you must hit the green in the right spot, too, especially the 9th hole. Dustin’s ball was on the green for a good 10 seconds today and ended up in the water, so you have to be very precise on some of them. The challenge is all around the greens, the course is still kind of growing in and that’s making it very difficult from down in the low areas around the greens. You know, you just have to get a little bit creative this week and somehow get it up on the green and try and save your par.”

Incoming Form of Valspar Championship winners since 2010:

  • Tony Finau: MC WWT/9th Tour Champ/28th BMW/5th FedEx St Jude.
  • Jason Kokrak: 54th CJ Cup/MC Shriners/11th Tour/ 15th BMW.
  • Carlos Ortiz: 35th ZOZO/48th CJ Cup/MC Shriners/MC Sanderson.
  • Lanto Griffin: 18th Shriners/17th Safeway/11th Sanderson/13th Greenbrier.
  • Ian Poulter: QF WMP/41st Bay Hill/MC Copperhead/MC PGA National.
  • Russell Henley: 45th Bay Hill/9th Copperhead/43rd PGA National/16th TPC Scottsdale.
  • Jim Herman: 63rd Bay Hill/MC Copperhead/MC PGA National/17th Pebble/MC TPC Scottsdale.
  • J.B. Holmes: MC Bay Hill/2nd Doral/22nd Riviera/10th Pebble/2nd Torrey Pines.
  • Matt Jones: 14th Bay Hill/MC Puerto Rico/MC PGA National/59th Riviera/45th Pebble.
  • D.A. Points: MC Bay Hill/MC Copperhead/MC Puerto Rico/68th PGA National.
  • Hunter Mahan: 42nd Bay Hill/24th Doral/1st WMP/24th Riviera/13th Pebble.
  • Phil Mickelson: 24th Bay Hill/55th Doral/17th WMP/35th Riviera/9th Pebble.
  • Anthony Kim: 22nd Doral/2nd PGA National/24th TPC Scottsdale/52nd Riviera.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave (where applicable) and winning score since 2010. For full first round leader stats click here.

  • 2022 – Finau/Noren/Wise – 2AM/1PM Split -5/65 – 30/1 55/1 & 35/1.
  • 2021 – Gooch/Henley/List/Leishman/Trainer – 3AM/2PM Split -5/65 – 40/1 66/1 95/1 60/1 & 400/1.
  • 2020 – Snedeker – PM -5/65  – 90/1
  • 2019 – Cook/Gooch – Both AM -8/64 – 66/1 & 90/1.
  • 2018 – Dunne – PM -8/64  – 90/1
  • 2017 – Fowler – AM  -8/64 – 25/1
  • 2016 – Hoffman – PM -8/64.
  • 2015 – Piercy – AM -9/63.
  • 2014 – Haas/Hoffman – Both PM -7/65.
  • 2013 – Points – AM -8/64.
  • 2012 – Cabrera / Mickelson / Pettersson – 2AM/1PM Split -7/65.
  • 2011 – Walker – PM -9/63.
  • 2010 – Percy / Stadler – AM/PM Split -5/67.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of Bermudagrass PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 6 – Scottie Scheffler.
  • 4 – Billy Horschel, Si Woo Kim.
  • 3 – Kevin Kisner, Brandt Snedeker.
  • 2 – Jimmy Walker.
  • 1 – Aaron Baddeley, Cameron Champ, Stewart Cink, Wyndham Clark, Tyler Duncan, Nick Dunlap, Tony Finau, Lanto Griffin, Nick Hardy, Garrick Higgo, J.B. Holmes, Kurt Kitayama, Martin Laird, Luke List, Peter Malnati, Keith Mitchell, Taylor Moore, C.T. Pan, Davis Riley, Scott Stallings, Adam Svensson, Jhonattan Vegas, Gary Woodland, Will Zalatoris.

Points of note: Other current PGA Tour stop-offs with MiniVerde Bermudagrass greens include TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic of New Orleans) and East Lake (Tour Championship). The old Houston Open host course, namely the GC of Houston (Redstone GC as was), also featured them – although they were overseeded in its April guise. TPC Sawgrass home of the Players Championship featured MiniVerde Bermudagrass prior to 2017, as did Quail Hollow at the 2014 through 2016 renewals.

2020 saw Memorial Park play firm and fast for the opening 54 holes. A rarity on the PGA Tour! 2021 was slightly different with a storm in the early hours of Thursday depositing 25mm. However Memorial Park still put up a stern defence with greens that were fast on Saturday and extremely lively on Sunday, despite mud-balls on the fairways. 2022 was a similar story as thunderstorms brought rain on Friday afternoon, suspending play for the day. Saturday saw winds of 25mph, but scores of 64 and 65 were available across the weekend.

Till this point -13/267, -10/270 and -16/264 totals have won, so this tournament has not been your standard birdiefest. But with the PGA Tour in its current guise, don’t rule out watered greens and -20/260 winning here in 2024!

My final Houston Open tips are as follows:

Scottie Scheffler 8Pts Win Only 3/1 with bet365

Let’s start with Scottie Scheffler who’s going to take all the beating this week. Clearly that’s on obvious statement but looking at this week from a value perspective, I’m fascinated to see the World Number 1 priced up at 3/1 for the Houston Open, when he’s currently 9/2 (as short as 4/1 with Paddy Power) to win The Masters in a fortnight. I’m not sure we all need to sit an exam paper to work through which is the harder tournament, has the better field strength, and will be harder to win.

From this week’s perspective, Scheffler has never won 3 straight tournaments on the bounce I grant you, but came close when winning The Masters 2 years ago. Back then 1st at Bay Hill, 55th at The Players, 1st at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play and 1st at The Masters was his run of form and he’d also won his maiden PGA Tour title at TPC Scottsdale in February, so in total he won 3 PGA Tour events and The Masters in a 6 tournament span. You can see why the layers are full of trepidation at the moment.

5 of Scheffler’s 8 PGA Tour victories have come on these Poa Trivialis overseed type greens and a couple more have come on Bermudagrass greens at Bay Hill, so as I have highlighted for quite a period of time, this agronomy is where Scottie plays his best golf. 3 visits here to Memorial Park have seen him finish 2nd (2021) and 9th (2022), plus the Poa Trivialis overseed we will see for the very first time here will only aid his chances in my opinion.

Lapping the field most week’s for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, he gained over a stroke per round with the putter at Bay Hill and +0.6 when winning the Players Championship from 5 strokes back on Sunday.

The elephant in the room – and the hope non-Scottie supporters will have this week – is that his injured neck will still be a problem in Houston – but for me, he simply wouldn’t be playing this, if there was any form of residue problem. Why would you with Masters week starting in just over 2 weeks? RESULT: T2

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Sahith Theegala 2pts EW 20/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

A stretching, tough course, with fairways up to 40 yards wide, where Strokes Gained Putting is vital when it comes to victory, sounds like an assignment for Sahith Theegala to me. Whilst Zalatoris and Si Woo Kim are sure to be popular this week with punters – and for good reason – Sahith for me pips them all to go really well this week at Memorial Park.

A look at his results CV highlights a player who can mix it at the sterner tests on the PGA Tour. 4th (2023) at Torrey Pines, 6th (2023) at Riviera Country Club, 6th (2024) at Bay Hill, 7th (2022) at Copperhead, 9th (2023) at Augusta National (on course debut), 5th (2022) at Muirfield Village, plus 15th at Olympia Fields (2023). These are courses and tough scoring tests where Memorial Park winners Kokrak and Finau have thrived so Sahith very much ticks the box in this respect.

5th at TPC Scottsdale, 6th at Bay Hill and 9th at a TPC Sawgrass set-up – which I thought wouldn’t suit – highlight a player who is confident, talented and at the peak of his powers. And that momentum comes across in my 8-week Strokes Gained trackers, where in this field the Pepperdine University product ranks in the top 12 for Approach and Tee to Green, top 10 for Off the Tee, 3rd for Current Form and 3rd for Putting.

Plus from a motivational perspective, Theegala won’t be thinking about Augusta National in a fortnight’s time with any genuine thoughts of victory. Instead validation in picking up his 2nd PGA Tour victory in a field that contains Scheffler, Clark, Zalatoris and Finau would undoubtedly trump his Fortinet victory last September and power him towards President’s Cup selection – he already sits 4th in the Team USA standings. RESULT: T28

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Kurt Kitayama 1pt EW 55/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

As regulars will know, I run 8-week Strokes Gained trackers across both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. In Kurt Kitayama I find a player who ranks in the top 20 for Approach and Putting, top 10 for Current Form, and the top 7 for Off the Tee and Tee to Green. The sort like a Sepp Straka who is consistently overpriced, it’s worth remembering that Kitayama took out the elevated (nee Signature in 2024) status Arnold Palmer Invitational at 200/1 last March.

The sort who thrives on tougher, longer courses, where the penalty of missing a fairway is negated, theoretically Memorial Park should suit. 2022 saw him finish 3rd at the Honda Classic, 2nd at the Mexico Open, 2nd at the Scottish Open, and 2nd at the CJ Cup played at Congaree, before his “break-out” year in 2023, where he won at Bay Hill and finished 6th at the PGA Championship played at the classical, old-style Oak Hill.

On course debut this week and has momentum after finishing 19th at TPC Sawgrass a fortnight ago, which saw the 31 year-old who lives in Las Vegas close with a -5/67 which was T6 for Sunday scoring. Kurt, exactly 12 months ago, also made the Quarter Finals of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play at nearby Austin Country Club, on very similar agronomy and Bermuda/Poa Trivialis greens. RESULT: T36

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Taylor Moore 1pt EW 70/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

Taylor Moore is my final selection this week. Many will remember Moore winning his maiden PGA Tour title at the Valspar Championship 12 months ago at exactly the same price. A talented sort who as a result of his Copperhead victory played at Augusta National and finished a creditable 39th on course debut, Taylor will be excited to be travelling to Georgia in a fortnight to make his 2nd start there. And you can see momentum building.

31st at The Players and 13th when defending his title at the Valspar, Taylor will take a lot out of last week, ranking 7th for Approach, 12th for Around the Green, and 8th for Tee to Green. Long off the tee with a high ball flight, Memorial Park, despite 2 Missed Cuts from 2 appearances, should theoretically suit the Dallas resident, who was born in San Angelo, Texas.

50th for Driving Distance All Drives and 20th for Greens in Regulation so far on Tour in 2024, Moore can be a lights-out putter at his best, with 3 of his 6 biggest putting weeks coming on Bermudagrass or Bermudagrass/Poa Trivialis greens at Harbour Town, Sedgefield and Copperhead.

His liking for these exact putting surfaces can also be extended to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans team event, where Moore has partnered Matthew NeSmith to consecutive 4th place finishes in 2022 and 2023. TPC Louisiana features similar MiniVerde Bermudagrass overseeded with Poa Trivialis putting surfaces. RESULT: T2

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 14:08GMT 25.3.24 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.