Coop’s Houston Open Preview

The countdown has begun as we are now only one tournament away from the Masters, the best golf tournament in the world and I will tell you writing this preview was difficult, as I like many, am in full Masters mode. But before we get there we have the Shell Houston Open this week which has been a fixture tournament since 2007 leading into the Masters. This week we have a solid field but not as strong as what we have seen the last three to four weeks depth wise. Your defending champion is Russell Henley with Jim Herman and JB Holmes winning the prior two years. The winning score is around -15 while a -10 will usually get you a T10. This is a tournament were the top 2-4 players typically pull away by a couple strokes from the other contenders. One last note, prepare yourself for all the talk about mid week wd’s, second and third round wd’s and players who make the cut who are not playing well and are headed to the Masters next week just going through the motions. At times the talk about the above subjects can become overwhelming and annoying and I suggest you just do your best to ignore it as we in the DFS community have no control over the outcomes and all the talk is speculative based on a players performance. No different than last week when people expected to see WD’s on Friday at the WGC, I expect to see little to none as every player wants to do there best, have sponsors to be loyal to, and nobody wants to head to the Masters on a bad finish.

THE COURSE
This week the players will be competing at the Golf Club of Houston (GCH) located in Humble, Texas. GCH is a par 72 course that plays fairly long at 7,441 yards that features greens that will play fast, 12+ on the stimpmeter. In general GCH will be set up to represent similar conditions as to what players will see next week at Augusta National. The rough will be limited to non existent, the fairways will be mowed in similar patterns to Augusta National, the areas around the greens will be shaved, and the greens will be fast although not bentgrass they are overseeded with a blend of rye and bent to make them simulate bentgrass. Speaking of the greens these are some of the easiest greens to putt on and statistically you see the most putts made at 10’ or less on tour. One of the biggest differences between this week and the following week at the Masters will be choice of club off the tee as this week we will see many players club down off the tee while at the Masters you will need driver. GCH has four par 3’s with two playing over 200 yards while two play in the 175-185 yard range. None of the four holes played easy or relatively hard as birdie is possible on them while par is good and they typically don’t allow for big scores. Of the ten par 4’s on GCH only four play over 450 yards but none of the four played under par last year while holes 5, 6, and 18 offered up the most double bogeys. Holes 1, 10, and 12 all play under 400 yards and were the easiest par 4’s on the course. GCH has a solid group of four par 5’s that all played under par last year but can be challenging. Don’t expect to see many eagles this week as hole 8 provided the most last year with a total of eight while no other hole on the course produced more than one eagle.

STATS FOR THE WEEK
This week I will be focusing on SGT2G as it is just a good measure of who is playing solid golf. Getting off the tee is important this week and the course favors the big hitters usually, SGOTT. As seen from above it is important to make birdies on the par 5’s so I want players who are scoring well on these holes. Since this is a tournament were scoring in general is above average I want players who are making birdies so I will look at birdies or better %. The stats below reflects the players rank within the field based on tournaments played back to the Pheonix Open or nine weeks.

THIS WEEKS STUDS
I am having a hard time figuring out Justin Rose this week. Is Rose playing to win and finish well or is he playing to get his game set up for the Masters? Rose doesn’t have great history at GCH while making all four cuts his best finish is 14th which isn’t going to get it done with his price this week. I will continue to dig in but at this point I will pass.
Tournaments 3
SGT2G 23rd
SG OTT 6th
Par 5 Scoring 23rd
Birdie or Better 3rd

Jordan Spieth heads into this week looking for the momentum that he has struggled to find so far this year. Spieth’s issues with the putter have been well documented but he has made progress since the beginning of the year while his driver has started to become more erratic over his last couple tournaments. Spieth doesn’t need to win this week as much as he needs to put four solid of rounds of golf together so that he can head to Augusta National next week with positive thoughts. Pay attention to Spieth on the greens this week as a switch to bentgrass could be what he needs to get the putter headed in the right direction.
Tournaments 6
SGT2G 12th
SG OTT 10th
Par 5 Scoring 19th
Birdie or Better 48th

Rickie Fowler tops the price chart this week and his past results show he comes to this tournament to compete and win as he has finished T10 three of the last four years. Two major concerns for Fowler this week would be his putting and his par 5 scoring as they have not been up to his standards. The easy putting greens should should help those numbers this week as Fowler looks to get back on track as he has had a disappointing season so far. How much I will play Fowler will depend on his ownership as I am not overly excited with the initial lineups I have made with him in them.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 8th
SG OTT 33rd
Par 5 Scoring 89th
Birdie or Better 18th

LOOKING FOR THAT BIG WIN TO HEAD TO AUGUSTA
Brandt Snedeker has one more chance to qualify for the Masters but he will need to win at a tournament that hasn’t been to kind to him over the years as Sneds has missed the cut at GCH in all three attempts. I am not a big fan of Sneds this week as the strongest part of his game, putting, is being negated by the easy to putt on greens which means he is losing his biggest advantage that he has on the field.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 55th
SG OTT 61st
Par 5 Scoring 73rd
Birdie or Better 43rd

Luke List is having his most consistent year on the PGA tour so far this year and he now heads to a tournament that he has played well at over the last couple years. List has finished 3rd and 27th the last two years while he had a missed cuts a few years back. Not counting last weeks WGC, List has finished no worse than 26th over his last six tournaments which includes two T7’s, a 12th and 16th. List is playing his best golf of his career and as you can see by the numbers below he fits the needs this week. List is priced at 9.6k which I hope will keep his ownership limited this week as he will be my highest owned player most likely. He is due for a win and he is one of the few top players who is playing this tournament to win while not working on his Masters prep. In addition, the weakest part of List’s game is putting which should be helped this week due to the easier greens.
Tournaments 6
SGT2G 1st
SG OTT 15th
Par 5 Scoring 5th
Birdie or Better 10th

Initially I was pretty high on Jamie Lovemark but then when I saw his stats off the tee my excitement came to a simmer. Lovemark has been playing some fairly solid golf leading into this week as he has made his last five cuts with one T10. Lovemark doesn’t have the best record at GCH with two missed cuts to go along with a 18th and 51st. I also feel Lovemark may be some what popular so I will probably be backing off.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 15th
SG OTT 93rd
Par 5 Scoring 26th
Birdie or Better 31st

Keegan Bradley heads to GCH this week looking for a win to get into the Masters. Bradley enjoys playing at GCH as he has made six of seven cuts with three T10 finishes. Bradley’s game has been very good off the tee and to the green but he has struggled with the putter. If Bradley can get that putter going this week at a place he is comfortable at on easier greens he very well may be packing his bags and heading to Augusta. Bradley is priced up this week as he typically falls in the mid to low 7k’s but has a price tag of 8.6k this week which could keep his ownership down.
Tournaments 6
SGT2G 5th
SG OTT 13th
Par 5 Scoring 25th
Birdie or Better 68th

When you look at James Hahn he has very good stats to support playing him and he has a cheap price tag this week which could draw attention to him. Hahn had a very good west coast swing this year were he enjoys playing and is comfortable with the grass types and conditions. Hahn is now in less favorable conditions that suit his game and his past results at GCH support this as his best finish is 36th although he has made three of four cuts. I will be off Hahn due to the reasons above this week.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 6th
SG OTT 53rd
Par 5 Scoring 1st
Birdie or Better 5th

Next to Luke List my favorite golfer this week is Byeong An who is making his first appearance at GCH. An has been playing solid golf and hitting the ball well off the tee. An has made five of his last six cuts with two T10’s and no finishes worse than 40th. Also like List, An can struggle with the putter so he should benefit from the easier greens.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 10th
SG OTT 3rd
Par 5 Scoring 44th
Birdie or Better 15th

WILDCARDS THIS WEEK
I expect Henrik Stenson to be a solid GPP play this week as many will stay away from him simply due to the fear that he may WD and head to Augusta for the Masters. I expect low ownership this week for Henson at a course that sets up well for him as he will be able to unleash his trusty three wood. Stenson has made five of six cuts at the GCH with two second place finishes and a third. As long as Stenson comes in with the lower projected ownership I feel he will have I will play at minimum what the field plays on Stenson this week.
Tournaments 2
SGT2G 42nd
SG OTT 18th
Par 5 Scoring 77th
Birdie or Better 90th

I also expect Thomas Pieters to garner low ownership due to his poor performance last week at the WGC in addition to his erratic play. This will be the first appearance at GCH for Pieters and what to expect nobody knows. My ownership on Pieters will depend upon his projected ownership. I have no problem playing Pieters if he will be low owned but I don’t have much interest in a chalky one.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 57th
SG OTT 97th
Par 5 Scoring 24th
Birdie or Better 72nd

The big question concerning Matt Kuchar is did he get his game headed back in the right direction after winning his group last week at the WGC. These match play tournaments make it difficult to determine if what was accomplished for anyone last week should be viewed just as that, an accomplishment, due to players not necessarily competing against the course but one opponent at a time. Match play will force players to hit shots that they typically wouldn’t attempt in a normal tournament setting which makes you wonder if the issues that Kuchar had entering last week are actually resolved. Kuchar has solid history at the GCH but recently he has not played well at this tournament. I like that Kuchar is priced up with many of the top players this week which will help reduce there ownership. I will most likely be passing on Kuchar this week as at this point of his career the Houston Open means little to him compared to next weeks Masters.
Tournaments 6
SGT2G 80th
SG OTT 81st
Par 5 Scoring 17th
Birdie or Better 26th

I am almost to the point that Tony Finau will never win a reputable PGA tournament as he continues to show promise only to fade away as we get deeper in tournaments. Finau currently is a boom or bust play as in his last six tournaments he has two missed cuts and two T5’s. My play on Finau has been centered around his projected ownership. If he is high owned I pass, if moderate owned I will play and I most likely will keep that strategy in play this week as it has worked well so far.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 20th
SG OTT 56th
Par 5 Scoring 47th
Birdie or Better 15th

GPP PLAYS
Sometimes you just have a gut feeling on players and this week for me it is Beau Hossler. Hossler started out the season playing well on the west coast but slowly his game went south. Hossler placed 39th last year at this tournament and I feel he is a much better player this year. I feel the course sets up well for his style of play and what was carrying Hossler earlier this year was his putter and this could be the week on easier greens that his putter comes back. I won’t play much of Hossler but at 10-15% I should be 2-4x over the field on him.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 70th
SG OTT 36th
Par 5 Scoring 58th
Birdie or Better 61st

When you look at the stats for Michael Kim nothing says play me other than his par 5 scoring. Kim has missed three of his last five cuts and he was nothing special last week in the Dominican. So why play Kim, he has a 12th and 27th over his last two appearances at GCH and I know he will be unowned.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 107th
SG OTT 86th
Par 5 Scoring 20th
Birdie or Better 61st

The GCH is a course that I like to use players like Jhonattan Vegas at as it is not overly difficult and Vegas has a knack for succeeding on these types of courses. Vegas has solid history at GCH but his recent form is less than desiresble so I am hoping his ownership stays at a reasonable number. A solid week from Vegas would be perfect as it will be beneficial this week plus it will increase his ownership next week at the Masters were he is low priced and will be facing a rather difficult course which means he will be a fade for me.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 26th
SG OTT 75th
Par 5 Scoring 79th
Birdie or Better 97th

A few weeks ago Jason Kokrak was a popular DFS pick at the Aromld Palmer Invitational and missed the cut. Kokrak doesn’t have the best results at the GCH but I feel he is playing much better this year than his previous years. Part of the reason Kokrak has been better this year is because he has learned to club down off the tee and has been successful at it. GCH is a club down course and he will now be able to utilize this strategy with the confidence that he can play well while doing it. I am hoping Kokrak will go low owned due to his course history and his recent missed cut.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 9th
SG OTT 11th
Par 5 Scoring 8th
Birdie or Better 17th

Last week Emiliano Grillo was the chalk at the tournament in the Dominican Republic and he disappointed everyone who was on him. I would expect that to make Grillo a fairly underowned player this week. Why did Grillo not play well last week? It could have very well been the greens and he couldn’t adjust to them or it could be that his body needs a break as he is racking up quite the frequent flyer miles recently as he has been all over the world playing golf. Grillo has been priced at 8.5k this week and I feel he will be overlooked.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 34th
SG OTT 27th
Par 5 Scoring 50th
Birdie or Better 7th

Patrick Rodgers was in a similar position as Grillo last week although he wasn’t quite as chalky and he performed slightly better but still left his owners disappointed. I can guarantee you that Rodgers can be had for under 5% this week due to this and the field is much better this week than what he competed against last week. In addition Rodgers has been priced up this week to 8.1k and I see very few people playing him.
Tournaments 7
SGT2G 65th
SG OTT 105th
Par 5 Scoring 71st
Birdie or Better 29th

Bud Cauley is another player this week that falls in the 8.6k to 7.5k range that I feel will be highly ignored this week due to roster construction and people not liking many of the players within that range. Cauley is coming off a wrist injury which is another reason his ownership will stay down but he did finish 14th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Cauley has finishes of 8th and 16th at the GCH to go along with a missed cut last year. I won’t have much of Cauley this week but I don’t feel I will need much to be overweight on someone who could very easily T10.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 86th
SG OTT 76th
Par 5 Scoring 27th
Birdie or Better 50th

Kieth Mitchell was my highest owned player last week at the tournament in the Dominican Republic and he came away with a solo second place. I am sure many will notice his performance from last week and jump on this week. I will be passing on Mitchell as last weeks course was a much better fit for his rip it and grip style.
Tournaments 3
SGT2G 96th
SG OTT 49th
Par 5 Scoring 11th
Birdie or Better 27th

WHAT TO DO WITH THESE PLAYERS
It’s pretty safe to say that this is the one course on the PGA tour that Russell Henley enjoys. Henley has finished 1st, 5th, 4th and 7th in his last four appearances at GCH. Henley hasn’t been playing well as he enters this week but that shouldn’t matter as he has been in worse form entering this tournament in the past. I will have some Henley but just how much I don’t know as I will wait to see his projected ownership. There are several solid plays at the top which I feel could even out ownership on the top so Henley could be underowned based on his past results. One last note pertaining to Henley, I mentioned earlier that GCH tries to mimic the set up at Augusta and if you look at Henley’s results at the Masters it tells me they do a good job as he has finishes of 11th, 21st and 31st at the Masters which is very solid for Henley when you consider the field at the Masters is much deeper than the field this week. In addition if you look at Henrik Stenson who has had solid results at GCH but only mediocre finishes at the Masters it tells you how important the driver is at the Masters.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 51st
SG OTT 80th
Par 5 Scoring 75th
Birdie or Better 18th

Daniel Berger has posted back to back 5th place finishes at the GCH and like Henley he should be a popular choice this week. Berger has been playing solid golf making four of five cuts with finishes of 11th, 14th and 14th. While Berger already is qualified for this tournament I feel you will see him trying to win this tournament much like Rickie Fowler. Berger will be a core play for me this week.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 64th
SG OTT 70th
Par 5 Scoring 30th
Birdie or Better 55th

For me Phil Mickelson is an easy fade this week as he has let it be known that this tournament is all about Masters prep. Mickelson has said he will hit driver when he should be hitting three wood because that particular shot is one he needs to execute at the Masters. Mickelson has also said he will intentionally put drives in the incorrect position so that his second shot can mimic shots that will be needed next week at Augusta National. Sorry Phil, but you won’t be making my lineups this week.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 2nd
SG OTT 32nd
Par 5 Scoring 9th
Birdie or Better 2nd

There is nobody who would like to win this week and head to the Masters more than Charles Howell. CH3 is a DFS golf fixture up until the Masters then his game typically levels off. Unfortunately for CH3 that play of leveling off came earlier this year as he was never able to get his consistent T10 finishes rolling but the last couple weeks there has been hope for CH3 with finishes of 14th and very good play at the WGC. CH3 has three T10 finishes at GCH over the last five years and will certainly make a late run to try and head to Augusta. I will probably have some CH3 this week but most likely will be underweight.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 7th
SG OTT 26th
Par 5 Scoring 64th
Birdie or Better 96th

The player I will be watching the most this week is Rafa Cabrera-Bello as how he plays this week will determine my interest for him next week at the Masters. In addition Rafa is the player I am having the most difficulty figuring out this week but perhaps it is all coming together for me. Back in February I noticed Rafa was playing some tournaments he has never or rarely plays as he was entered at Pebble Beach and the Genesis Open. I found this interesting but I think it has to do with Rafa’s desire to perform well at the Masters this year. The Genesis Open is a correlated course for the Masters and the two tournaments he played earlier in the year in addition to the Honda Classic which he played this year cemented the most golf Rafa has played leading into the Masters as in the past he was just a WGC attendee heading into the Masters. As for this week it will be interesting to see the ownership on Rafa as he has ranged as low as 6.9k and as high as 8.1k but now he is 9.3k. A solid performance this week will cement Rafa as chalk next week while a mediocre or worse will keep people off him. One last note on Rafa, he missed the cut at both the Masters and this tournament last year and his WGC were both in the thirties while the year before he finished 17th at the Masters and 4th at this tournament while his WGC finishes were 3rd and 11th. I think things are trending positively for Rafa as he has two T10’s a 29th and two 26th place finishes over his last five tournaments minus the WGC.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 4th
SG OTT 68th
Par 5 Scoring 4th
Birdie or Better 7th

THE MASTERS
The field is set for next weeks big tournament barring a winner from this week who has not qualified as he would then become eligible to compete. At this point we will have a field consisting of 86 players as Dylan Frittelli, Chez Reavie, Cam Smith and Satoshi Kodaira qualified due to being in the T50 after the conclusion of the WGC. Don’t be surprised if we get to 87 because in a field of 144 this week we only have 16 players who will be in the Masters. Make sure you check back next week as I will be posting my ultimate Masters preview were I discuss every player in the tournament.

I will leave you with this, make sure you check the weather for this week as the wind may or may not play a role but even a small 10mph wind may give one tee time better than the other if they see limited winds. I found this quote from Scott Piercy via Josh Culp. “The wind here is so heavy since we’re at sea level. If it’s blowing 10 miles an hour, it plays probably close to 20 yards worth of distance, where when you get downwind, if you have 10 miles into the wind downwind, it’s probably about 5 miles or 5 yards difference. It plays a big difference into the wind versus otherwise.” Good luck to everyone this week. Thanks
Coop

About the Author

Comments

  • nicholasmarsh

    Digging the Byeong-Hun An call this week! Go get ‘em, Coop!

    EDIT: All good stuff, man. I am on-board with most of what you have covered here. Thanks for the hard work!

  • MortalWombat

    Wow, very well done. Thanks for sharing your research and gl.

  • madmanjayWV

    Awesome stuff..thanks for sharing

  • markymark13

    Great stuff. Torn on RCB as well. Love his ability to dominate par 5’s, but he always seems to disappoint when I play him

  • blackdirkdiggler

    Great info. Great job. Cant wait for your Masters breakdown.

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