Shell Houston Open
Although many of the hot favourites for next week’s Masters aren’t in the field here this week at the Shell Houston Open, there are still a couple of thoroughbreds going through their final warm-ups on a course that is set up to give a similar sort of test to Augusta National – think lightning fast greens (should be up around 13 on the stimp by the weekend), generous fairways and negligible rough.
Historically it has been a tournament for the bigger hitters, but more recently the contenders have been those toward the top of the greens in regulation stats. Jordan Spieth returns to Houston for what is effectively his home Open, following a runners-up finish last year during a hot streak which included a win the following week at Augusta.
Everyone knows that whoever wins the week before The Masters has about as much chance of landing the Green Jacket as the Par 3 winner, unless of course their name is Sandy Lyle! That’s perhaps why we are backing none of our Masters picks this week:
Phil Mickelson 20/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £270
Phil is on a cracking run of form this season, and given that he has a great record both at Augusta and here in Houston, you can be pretty confident that he’ll be full of confidence this week. We really like his chances this week, though we think another Green Jacket next week may be a bridge too far given the quality of the form horses.
Patrick Reed 22/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £295
In the group stages of the Matchplay last week Reed was looking unstoppable. He’s certainly bubbling up to some good form and his combination of pumpy hitting and birdie-making ability make him an attractive proposition at 22/1
Brooks Koepka 30/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £395
He was edged out in the quarter finals by Jason Day last week, and was in fine form getting there. He’s another bomber who’s on a good run and although he’s a debutant here in Houston, he should find the course to his liking.
Sergio Garcia 33/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £432.50
Plenty of length, great ball-striker and improvement in his putting make us think that this is a course that should suit him. Unlike Augusta, where hitting a draw is very much the favoured shot, Houston gives a few more options and should allow Sergio reason to feel a little more comfortable. We don’t believe that Sergio has it in him to win a Masters, but he can certainly raise hopes this week with a win.
Tony Finau 75/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £957.50
May have slipped under the radar last week as he won in Puerto Rico at much shorter odds than he is this week. In fairness the field this week is far superior, but he will have no shortage of confidence. This is one that could go both ways and we are banking on him riding in on the crest of a wave.