We can all take a moment to celebrate the Shell Houston Open for the return of the Shot Tracker. It is not fun reading the play by play and having no idea what is going on with players (Hagy)! This week we will have full disclosure on how good, or bad, our player’s shots are. Oh, and the Master’s is only a week away! Let the countdown begin.
Let’s dive right in. The Shell Houston Open is held at the GC of Houston, a Par 72 coming in at 7,457 yards. Being carved out of woodlands, there will be plenty of trees the player’s drives will be flirting with. The Par 5’s on the course all average under par which will give the players plenty of chances for scoring. The key focus this week again will be Par 4 scoring. There are several Par 4’s, (Holes 5,6,11,17, 18) that average over par. The efficient Par 4 players should gain an edge on these holes. Water is also predominant on at least half the holes, so we do not want to see the shot tracker stalling in an attempt to find the ball.
It is important to note that with one week left until the Master’s, there will be plenty of players trying to get that win to gain entry to one of the most prestigious golf tournaments around. The players that have secured their berth will want to improve on their game so that their form is in top shape. If the player is playing poorly, however, we may see some withdrawal’s so they can take more time to right the course.
2016 Jim Herman
2015 J. B. Holmes
2014 Matt Jones
2013 D. A. Points
2012 Hunter Mahan
2011 Phil Mickelson
Yet again, the key metric we are looking at is SG: Tee to Green. This statistic allows us to target the best ball strikers. In another tournament where birdies will be plenty, we are going to want the best ball strikers that will be able to gain strokes off the tee and getting to the green. For those of you that haven’t read our past articles, SG: Tee to Green combines Off the Tee, Approach the Green, and Around the Green. The best SG: Tee to Green players will put themselves in positions for many birdies. With a course carved out of woodlands, the best ball strikers should be able to avoid trouble.
The toughest holes on the course are the Par 4’s. The Par 4 18th hole is considered one of the toughest finishing holes on Tour. With 5 of the Par 4’s averaging over par, we are going to want to target the best Par 4 Scorers. While over half the field will be losing strokes on these holes, we want the players that will be shooting par or better.
I feel like I could have just copied last week’s article and pasted. With another tournament featuring a birdiefest, we are going to want to target the best Birdie or Better % (BoB%). The tournament has featured the winner coming in at no lower than -15 in the last 5 years. In order to take down a large GPP, you are going to need players that will keep up with the birdiefest.
Another key statistic that I look at is Greens in Regulation. This is somewhat factored into SG: Tee to Green since the players gaining strokes with their ball striking are likely hitting more greens in regulation.
Winds are going to be the biggest factor this week. Thursday morning actually has the highest wind gusts for the day and winds dying down for Friday. Here is a wind graph for Thursday and Friday:
Below is the daily forecast from Weather.com, Thursday morning has a chance of thunderstorms. With thunderstorms comes the wind so we will closely monitor the situation through Wednesday evening and even very early Thursday before lock. If conditions continue to look worse for Thursday morning that could be a point to start favoring the afternoon groups. Keep an eye on this and we will have updates on our Twitter account.
Jon Rahm ($10,700) – Taking Rahm over Spieth this week isn’t even a tough decision for me this week with pricing aside. Rahm is playing really well even though he missed some par putts at WGC last week, I almost like that he is getting experience in the spotlight and pressure situations. Rahm ranks 3rd in SG: Tee to Green, 4th in total SG, 6th in Birdie or Better % and 21st in GIR%. He also is near the top of the field in Par 4 and 5 scoring. His overall game is so solid and I see him as a mini mold of DJ in the making. Don’t overthink Rahm GOAT this week.
Rickie Fowler ($10,000) – Rickie is a different player in 2017. He is bringing it week to week and his stats backing it up. Rickie ranks 3rd in total SG, 11th in SG: Tee to Green and 32nd in GIR%. He has the birdie making ability on the Par 4 and 5’s. Rickie has solid course history at GC of Houston, and I really like his approach to attacking courses that require strategic ball placement. Gimme some Rickie this week.
Phil Mickelson ($8,900) – Lefty routinely plays the Shell Houston Open in preparation of the Masters. He has historically played this track very well and won the event in 2011. He also has had finishes placing 4th, 12th, 13th, 16th and 17th in his last 5 years. I really like Phil this week with his recent Par 4 and 5 scoring, and the ability to maneuver the course with his approach angles. Phil also ranks 4th in Birdie or Better %. At his price and odds to win this event, lock him in your core.
Rafa Cabrera Bello ($7,900) – RCB is just a cut making machine. In his first appearance at this event last year he finished T4. He is 2nd in the field in Par 4 scoring this week, and ranks 31st in GIR%. He has not missed a cut dating back to last summer so he is a very safe play at $7,900.
Russell Henley ($8,700) – Henley is the course horse at GC of Houston. His last 3 appearances he has finished 4th, 5th and 7th. He is in excellent recent form finishing T9 at Valspar and played well at Honda for his first 3 rounds and Sunday got away from him. Henley ranks 20th in Total SG and 20th in GIR%. Something to note is his recent par 4 scoring is down but I am going to not let that get in the way of his long term Par 4 scoring and course history here.
Others to Consider: JB Holmes, Lucas Glover, Jason Dufner, Nick Watney, Peter Uihlein
JT Poston ($6,700) – We were on JT last week and we are going right back to him at this price on DK. He checks the box in Driving Distance, GIR, putts per round, Par 4 and 5 scoring. He has 3 top 20 finishes in his last 4 events and is playing great golf all around. This is his first event at Shell Houston Open so I think that may keep ownership down this week.
Bernd Wiesberger ($6,600) – Bernd is a birdie making machine and that is what we want on DraftKings. He strung together 9 straight birdies at Maybank earlier this season and comes in at 3rd in the field for GIR%. He also ranks in the top 20 for Par 4 and 5 scoring for this week. Wiesberger played at this event last year with a T27 finish. I am hoping to get him at low ownership in tournaments this week. Lets keep him on the DL this week.
Chalk to Fade
Jordan Spieth ($12,000) – That was very difficult to type. However, this is on DK only and if you don’t feel comfortable with the complete fade then you can get your shares on FanDuel for only $300 more than Rahm. Spieth is not worth the $12k price tag for me this week with all the talent just below him and in the $8k range.