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The first round of this year's Houston Open is in the books, and if leaderboards are any indication of the quality of an event -- and they are -- then this tournament is going to be a great one over the next three days.

Former Ryder Cuppers Alex Noren and Tony Finau are tied at the top at 5 under along with potentially future Ryder Cupper, Aaron Wise as well as Tyson Alexander who only completed 17 holes before darkness. Between the three players at the top who completed their rounds, they made just two combined bogeys in 54 holes at a tough Memorial Park Golf Course, and there's some distance between them and the rest of the best players in the field.

Let's take a closer look at their first rounds and what to expect over the weekend in Houston.

The leaders

1. Tony Finau, Alex Noren, Aaron Wise, Tyson Alexander (-5): Gone are the low 60s scores of last week signifying an easy resort golf course that professionals can light up. Memorial Park Golf Course is a Tom Doak redesign and has proved to be tricky over its first two PGA Tour events. This one looks to be much of the same.

Wise has been playing terrific golf this fall and seems to have solved some of his putter problems, which could also be a problem for the rest of the fields he plays in. It's been en vogue to suggest him as a potential breakout star this year, but there's a reason for that -- he's a terrific ball-striker -- and it's looking at least now like it could be true.

"I feel like I'm getting there," said Wise of the state of his game. "I'm pretty hard on myself, there's always things I want to improve, but I feel like I'm well on my way. I feel like I'm in a way better spot than I was a year ago or two years ago. I just want to keep pushing and keep getting better and see how good I can get"

Finau has been one of the hottest players in golf over the last two months, and Noren has caught a bit of that heat as well -- he finished second at the Barracuda Championship in July and T2 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the beginning of October. Both are tremendous ball-strikers and Noren led the field in iron play on Thursday. I would be surprised if one of these three players didn't end up winning the tournament.

Other contenders

T5. Zack Fischer, Ben Taylor, Keith Mitchell, Taylor Pendrith, Wyndham Clark, Mackenzie Hughes, Max McGreevy, David Lipsky (-4)

T13. Scott Piercy, Denny McCarthy, Brendan Steele, Maverick McNealy, Justin Rose, Marty Dou Zecheng, Joel Dahmen, Zack Fischer, Brent Grant, Trey Mullinax, Yechun Yuan, Ben Griffin (-3)

That's a lot of names but not a lot of depth. Who's the best player in this group right now? Mitchell? Dahmen? McNealy?

McNealy has probably been playing the best golf of anyone in this collection of players with four consecutive top-20 finishes after a missed cut at the Fortinet Championship to start his 2022-23 season. He drove it poorly on Thursday (only two golfers hit fewer fairways) but his immense short game kept a round together. If he gets it rolling off the tee, he could certainly jump up into contention on the weekend.

Dahmen, too, has been trending in the right direction. After a T37 at the Shriners, he finished T16 at the Zozo and T3 last week at the World Wide Technology Championship in Mayakoba. He was good across the board on Thursday, and it would give this tournament a bit of a jolt to see one of the more popular men in golf get his second career victory.

Sam Burns' struggles

As one of the two top 12 players in this field, much was expected of Burns. Unfortunately he shot a 77 on Thursday and has only four golfers behind him on the leaderboard. Normally a strong putter, Burns lost nearly five (!!) strokes to the field on the greens on Thursday and put himself in a corner that's going to be difficult to get out of.

2022 Houston Open odds, picks

  • Tony Finau: 4-1
  • Aaron Wise: 5-1
  • Alex Noren: 12-1
  • Taylor Pendrith: 14-1
  • Maverick McNealy: 14-1
  • Scottie Scheffler: 18-1

Normally I like to look pretty far down the board to find somebody with longer odds. However, I think one of the co-leaders is going to end up winning this tournament. I would simply sprinkle on those three and hope that Noren hits but not be disappointed if it's one of the others.