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The PGA Tour heads to Texas this week for the Houston Open. Formerly contested a week before the Masters, the event was not played during the 2018-19 season due to schedule reshuffling but now returns to the Golf Club of Houston for the 14th straight time.
Bluntly put, the 144-man field is not good. With the tournament's new slot in October, the week before many top pros head to South Korea for the start of the PGA Tour's Asian swing, Henrik Stenson is the only top-40 player competing.
However, from a betting perspective, a weak field presents value and options that are otherwise unavailable or not worth considering during a typical week. The playing field is much more level, meaning the winning potential of long shots is significantly greater considering the talent of the players who enter the week as favorites.
2018: Ian Poulter (-19)
2017: Russell Henley (-20)
2016: Jim Herman (-15)
2015: J.B. Holmes (-16)
2014: Matt Jones (-15)
|Player||Odds||Best Houston Open finish|
Not great, right?
Stenson at 9-1 cannot be bet. Yes, he's by far the best player in the field and has a very good history at the Golf Club of Houston. However, he wins so infrequently that there's no value in backing the Swede.
The drop-off from Stenson to the rest of the field is steep; five players in the 20-1 range fail to leap off the page as enticing options. It's worth noting that Russell Henley historically dominates the Houston Open - he's posted five straight top-10 results including a win in 2017. Other than Henley, the other players are easy to avoid.
That leaves Scottie Scheffler, who's frequently been mentioned in recent betting previews. His price varies depending on the betting board and is as low as 22-1 in some spots. The Texas native is off to a solid start in his brief PGA Tour career, and if not for an ugly weekend in Las Vegas, he'd likely have three top-20 showings. If the 23-year-old wins this fall, it will be at the Houston Open.
The real fun begins after you get past the list of favorites who probably don't deserve to be priced as such, with a handful of players between 40-1 and 60-1 presenting viable options in Houston.
Harris English (40-1), Lanto Griffin (45-1), Kyle Stanley (45-1), and Matt Jones (45-1) have all showed recent flashes of ball-striking brilliance. English has two top-10s in three starts this year; Griffin's worst result in four starts is a T-18; Stanley gained seven strokes on approach shots last week; Jones won the Houston Open in 2014 and is two tournaments removed from gaining 8.6 strokes tee-to-green at the Greenbrier.
Some of the long shots in Houston are arguably better than players priced at a fraction of their odds. Lucas Bjerregaard is the third-highest-ranked golfer in the field and is a whopping 100-1.
Robby Shelton (80-1) and Doc Redman (100-1) also stand out from a value perspective. The field resembles a Korn Ferry Tour event, and they're both playing well on the PGA Tour and have a history of winning on tier-two circuits.
Taking a few players priced at 80-1 or above is a great way of spreading your investment across the betting board and collecting as much win equity as possible.
Bronson Burgoon (55-1)
It's time to go back to the well with Burgoon. The Texas A&M alum has three top-six results in his last eight events across the PGA and Korn Ferry Tour. When he's on, the 32-year-old usually remains in the mix until late Sunday.
In his only start in Houston, Burgoon gained five strokes tee-to-green and finished T-24. He lost two strokes around the greens that week, which shouldn't be a factor if he's hitting the number of greens in regulation required to win. In a birdie-fest, back a player who recorded his best finishes with 19-under and 21-under scores.
Robby Shelton (80-1)
Shelton has yet to miss a cut since earning his PGA Tour card. He's gained strokes tee-to-green in three of his four events played during the new season, and if not for an outlier showing with his irons at the Safeway Open, he'd have a clean sweep. In his T-42 performance last week at the Shriners Open, he ranked 16th in strokes gained: tee-to-green.
Doc Redman (100-1)
Redman is mispriced. The 21-year-old has been one of the best ball-strikers in this field over the past few months, gaining strokes off the tee and with his irons in three of his past four tournaments. Last week in Las Vegas, he gained 5.9 shots with his approach shots alone.
Despite being a fresh face to most golf fans, Redman has the pedigree to follow in the footsteps of other young winners on the PGA Tour. He's already contended on the main circuit with a runner-up result at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and he won the 2017 U.S. Amateur, easily the most prestigious amateur event in the world.