The final tournament before we reach the biggest event of 2020 has finally arrived. The Masters starts next week, but first there's a Houston Open to be played. This is a bit of a throwback as this event used to be played the week before the Masters before it was moved to the fall. The course this year is quite different than it was back then (more on that below), but the goal will be the same: get ready for Augusta National while trying to win a PGA Tour event in the process.
Let's take a closer look at this week's contest, with odds and prop bets provided via William Hill Sportsbook.
What: Houston Open
When: Nov. 5-8
Where: Memorial Park Golf Course -- Houston, Texas
Three things to know
1. New course: A Tom Doak renovation with an assist from -- of all people -- Brooks Koepka, Memorial Park is one of just two municipals in the United States that hosts a PGA Tour event. The first iteration of the course is nearly 100 years old, but this latest remodel by Doak has yet to host the pros. Public courses hosting big-time events is always a fun time, and this week's should be pretty special, given the quality of the field. The course means a lot to the people of Houston, and this edition (with fans!) will be the first one as an official PGA Tour event in 60 years.
2. D.J., back: Dustin Johnson will play for the first time since he tested positive for COVID-19. This is a big deal for a couple of reasons. First, he's the No. 1 player in the world and has not played since the U.S. Open over a month ago. Second, the Masters is next week. I'm not really sure what to expect from D.J., but it's probably a good thing that he's getting some last-minute work before Augusta.
3. Phil and his fans: Phil Mickelson will also be getting some last-minute work in before his 2020 Masters, and he will likely have a majority of the 2,000 fans allowed into the event every day following him around. There has to be some hesitancy from Mickelson (and others) about the possibility of testing positive and having to bow out of the Masters, but it's nice for the event -- especially given its position at a public course -- that fans will be allowed in.
Grading the field
It's an eclectic group this week. Joining D.J. will be Brooks Koepka, Tyrrell Hatton, Russell Henley, Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Adam Scott and Jason Day. A number of those players -- including Johnson, Scheffler, Finau and Scott -- tested positive for COVID-19 and are likely just trying to get four rounds in before the final major. Grade: A
Want the sharpest DFS advice, picks and data-driven golf analysis? Listen below and subscribe to The First Cut Golf podcast where we explain what's happening on the course so you can win off of it.
1. Hideki Matsuyama top 10 (+230): Of the guys in this field with more than four measured rounds over the last three months, Matsuyama is fourth from tee to green. That +230 number for him is excellent value.
2. Scottie Scheffler to win Group B (+333): The field is sectioned off into distinct groups, and Scheffler is second behind Tyrrell Hatton (+220) to win this group. Also included are Sergio Garcia, Si Woo Kim and Wyndham Clark. I'm a huge believer in Scheffler and undeterred by a couple of subpar performances after the U.S. Open.
Houston Open picks
|Winner (20-1): I do this more often than I should, but he's been lights out over the last three months. Four straight top-20 finishes, including a T11 a few weeks at the Zozo Championship where he was returning for the first time after his positive test.|
|Top 10 (25-1 to win): If you take Johnson out of the equation, Henley has been the best player in the field over the last three months. Maybe you haven't noticed that (mostly because he hasn't won), but he's coming off of two top-10 showings at the CJ Cup and Zozo Championship. Interestingly, Henley did not qualify for the Masters.|
|Sleeper (60-1): They're a bit spread out, but Hahn has three straight top-10 finishes and has been slightly better from tee to green than even Finau over the last three months.|