Houston Open Preview: Favour the faders at Memorial Park

By Bryan Nicholson

Houston Open Latest Odds

26 March 2024

Last week at the Valspar was a tale of top players coming to the fore and then imploding. Our pick Justin Thomas was a victim on Saturday, and Sunday leaders Seamus Power and Keith Mitchell fell foul to Copperhead and the Snake Pit. The last man standing was one of the good guys - Peter Malnati - who grabbed his second PGA Tour victory nine years after his maiden win. It was Cameron Young playing bridesmaid once again as he finished runner-up for the seventh time!

Moving on and this week we are in Texas for the first of a two week stretch before the Masters hits our screens. The Texas Children’s Houston Open comes to us from Memorial Park under its new guise. Tony Finau (28.0) holds the tournament record here taking 264 strokes back in 2022 and this is the fourth edition of the Houston Open at the Memorial Park Golf Course.

The market is led by the short-priced Scottie Scheffler (4.0) who’s no stranger to Texas soil and Wyndham Clark (14.5) – another member of the top five in the Official World Golf Rankings - is also having a run out before Augusta. The purse for the Texas Children’s Houston Open is over $9 million.

When World no. 1 Scottie Scheffler is around it can be a risk to take him on but at odds of just 4.0 we can eke out some value further down the field. "The Scheff" has won on three of his last eight starts including his last two events and he's been runner up at Memorial Park Golf Club in 2021. Scheffler dominates the ball striking stats, leading all the relevant strokes gained departments, and what's more he resides in Texas so if the wind blows he could have an even bigger advantage! If we're to take on Scottie and win we might be relying on him to have a bad week on these greens. He's 94th in strokes gained putting so we might have an out…

The Course

The Memorial Park course itself is just a par 70 playing 7,435 yards. There’s a theme of faders of the golf ball dominating the upper echelons of the leaderboard in the three editions of the Houston Open so far here. Five par 3s and three tough par 5s on the card differs from the normal layouts, and grasses from tee to green are Bermuda. Surfaces are elevated and usually play fast and firm at around 12 on stimp. Par breakers are hard to convert and the greens in reg count is moderate according to the stats.

The Contenders

It’s interesting that the top five in the market are all faders of the golf ball and all have merit this week. Will Zalatoris and Sahith Theegala are rounding into top form and look the best value towards the top of the betting.

Will Zalatoris 21.0 (3.0 Top Five) hasn’t teed it up at Memorial Park yet but is playing nicely with two top four finishes in his last handful of events. He owns a progressive form rating of 9.33 on my model and his 2nd and 4th place finishes came at two ball striker’s playgrounds in Riviera and Bay hill. Zalatoris ranks 10 out of 10 in my course fit model with his iron game, lying 6th in strokes gained approach.

The last time this event was played in 2022, we can see that Sahith Theegala 20.0 (3.0 Top Five) closed out the event with a round of -6 on the final day, showing the course fits his eye. Theegala plays almost exclusively with a fade off the tee like Carlos Ortiz who won here previously. Sahith has three top 10s and four top 20s in his last handful of starts and ranks 4th in strokes gained total this year.

MacKenzie Hughes 55.0 (5.6 Top Five) just gets the nod over Keith Mitchell as he has the perfect profile for this event when you are looking at potential winners. He’s played here in each of the three editions of the Houston Open at Memorial Park so far, finishing 7th, 29th and 16th. His recent form is superb, going 30-26-3 leading into the Texas Children’s Houston Open – good enough for a 9.53 progressive form rating. And it’s around the greens where the Canadian really excels, ranking 4th this year in that department, and perhaps that gives him one-up on the opposition around these perched and hard-to-hit greens.

Recommended Bets

Back Will Zalatoris @ 21.0 (3.0 Top Five)
Back Sahith Theegala @ 20.0 (3.0 Top Five)
Back MacKenzie Hughes @ 55.0 (5.6 Top Five)

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