After thousands of miles traveling to foreign turf for three weeks, the PGA Tour finally lands back on U.S. soil this week.
The Tour players are set to tee it up in Texas for the Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course.
After the long-distance trips outside the U.S. to Japan, Bermuda, and then Mexico last week, a few of golf’s bigger names are back on the scene, and that’s a good thing for fans both on the grounds and those watching the telecasts. The guys and gals making wagers will also be happy to see more familiar names.
As we get closer to the holiday season, more golfers are putting the clubs away until 2022. But a few headliners are teeing it up this week, and the staff at the Houston Open certainly won’t complain.
Names like Brooks Koepka (who helped redesign the course, which is likely why he’s here) and Tony Finau will get their share of the fans, as well as a lot of betting money.
Odds To Win Houston Open (DraftKings)
Sam Burns +1200
Scottie Scheffler +1800
Cameron Smith +1800
Sungjae Im +2000
Talor Gooch +2200
Matthew Wolff +2500
Tyrrell Hatton +2500
Tony Finau +2500
Brooks Koepka +2800
Adam Scott +2800
Carlos Ortiz Made Name For Himself Here
Before last year’s victory in Houston, Carlos Ortiz, +3500 this week, was one of those in the ‘others’ category when it came to betting on golf tournaments.
There’s a top-tier list of players, those who are close to winning, those who have won in the past and could make noise again, and then there’s the ‘others’.
Ortiz was in that latter group before he won last year for the first time on the PGA Tour. Since joining the Tour in 2015, Oritz hasn’t exactly made headlines. Or subheads. Or even been mentioned in many stories.
That all came to a screeching halt in this event last year when he held off Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama for his first title.
In his career, he’s taken part in 130 PGA Tour events. In that timeframe, he’s got just four top 10s (one in 2015 and one each in 2019, 2020, and 2021).
Here’s where it gets interesting: In the 2018-19 wraparound season, his best finish was third. In 2019-20, his best finish was second, and in 2020-21, his best finish was that win in Houston last November.
A trend? Maybe. A longshot? Absolutely. At +3500, he’s down the oddsboard and that’s because in the 2021-22 season, he has a T-25, T-48, a missed cut, and a WD in his four starts.
Not exactly hitting on all cylinders as we tee it up this week.
So, let’s look elsewhere.
Big Names At Top For A Reason
While this is one of those weeks that has players outside the top 100 in the world ranking licking their chops in hopes of picking up a victory, there are big names here that have to be in bettors’ thought processes when it comes to wagering this week.
At +2800, Koepka isn’t one of the favorites, but he will get his share of attention, partly because he was the PGA Tour’s player consultant on a renovation of Memorial Park. He knows the course well. He’s going to be doing a lot of glad-handing, however, and talking about the course and its changes.
Can he win this week? Absolutely. After all, he’s won eight times on Tour. Will he win this week? We’re a little leery to back him as our main pick because it’s not a major, and that’s where he puts his focus. Half of his victories have come in majors.
He did have a solid weekend here last year, rallying for a T-5 finish, but was still five shots behind Ortiz.
He also missed the cut last week at Mayakoba — also not a major — so picking him becomes somewhat of a risky proposition.
Big-Name Going Under The Radar
If it’s possible, a guy like Finau is a little under the radar this week despite his recent form. At +2500, he presents great betting value.
He has only one start in the 2021-22 season, finishing T-45 in the CJ Cup in Vegas.
But toward the end of the 2020-21 season, he went into the FedEx Cup playoffs and promptly won the Northern Trust Open for his second PGA Tour victory.
He followed that up with a T-15 in the BMW Championship and a T-11 in the Tour Championship, before a stellar run in the Ryder Cup.
The guy is at the top of his game, and with this field lacking in star power, this could be the ideal spot for Finau to pick up win No. 3.
One For The Hometown Player
OK, we always try to put a name out there of a player who piques our interest for a variety of reasons.
This week, it’s Scottie Scheffler at +1800. Scheffler had an outstanding Ryder Cup performance and has been close enough to winning, including a solo fourth last week in Mexico, to stay on our radar.
Add in the fact he’s playing in his home state (although he’s from Dallas, not Houston), and this one has the makings of a ‘we should have seen this coming earlier’ scenario.
It may just be time for the moon, sun, and stars to all align as Scheffler picks up that first PGA Tour victory.
We’ve picked him a couple of times when he’s been close, but this week — when he’s teeing it up closer to home — feels like an ideal spot.
And that’s especially true with his solid play last week at Mayakoba keeping him on the front page of the leaderboard yet again.