The week before the Masters is a potential minefield for punters, as motivations for those playing at this week’s Shell Houston Open are not as clear-cut as in a normal week on the PGA Tour.
The Golf Course of Houston may have been prepared with lightning fast greens and larger than usual putting surfaces to mimic Augusta National in the build-up to next week’s first major of the year, but many players not have the pedal completely to the metal this week, especially those who think they have a real chance of competing next week.
Top of that list has to be Jordan Spieth who hasn’t looked on top-form recently, and he’ll probably be happy to go under the radar this week before he’s inundated with press responsibilities as reigning Masters Champion next week. Meanwhile, Ricky Fowler and Dustin Johnson boast one decent performance here each in a handful of attempts and, as both players will no doubt be fancying their chances at Augusta, it would be no surprise if they didn’t hit the leaderboard.
Of the market leaders, that leaves us with Henrik Stenson who boasts two top-3 finishes here in his last 4 visits, and decent recent form after finishing 3rd to Jason Day at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He may also have accepted that Augusta doesn’t really suit his game – and looks worth including in this week’s portfolio.
Of those priced at 20/1 or above, Mickleson and JB Holmes stand-out as potential winners as they both boast solid course form. Mickleson’s last 5 appearances here have yielded finishes of 1/4/16/12/17 and he’s never had any problem about winning the week before a major before. Last year’s champion Holmes will also see this as an ideal chance to make a bid for a Ryder Cup spot, and he’s another whose last 5 appearances here read well 2/42/8/12/1. Not at his best on his last 2 starts, he could well come to life here on a course which suits him ideally.
A player at bigger odds who could come back to life this week is Cameron Tringale, whose course form reads 8/16/4/5. He’s started slowly this year, but went into the notebook after finishing 28th last time out.