It’s the final event before the first Major of the year as the PGA Tour heads to Houston for the Shell Houston Open. There’s a decent field desperate to hone their game before the Masters and, of course, there are a few Masters places still available to those who perform well this week.
Huge under par score likely to be needed to win
The Shell Houston Open has been held at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble since 2003. It’s a course where a low score is required to win, with the course averaging 0.13 strokes under par in 2013. The average score to win over the last eight years has been around -16 with Phil Mickelson shooting -20 to win in 2011.
The rough can be particularly tricky and so the course favours those with good driving accuracy and who can hit greens on their approach shots.
Strong field in the last event before the Masters
Last year’s winner DA Points led the pack in terms of par-4 scoring and so this year we’re looking no further than the Tour’s leading par 4 birdie/eagle scorer, Dustin Johnson. Johnson has finished in the top ten in all of his five stroke play events this season including a T4 in his last start at Doral.
Johnson finished 4th in this event last year and looks absolutely terrific value at 13/1.
The favourite for the event is Rory McIlroy, returning after a three week break. With six consecutive top 10 finishes in stroke play events earlier in the season it’s been a promising start to the year for the former world number one. He shot a 63 on the way to a second place finish at the Honda Classic last month although his best finish in this event was a T19 back in 2009.
McIlroy is the 8/1 favourite.
Phil Mickelson withdrew from last week’s Texas Open and the 2011 winner is available at 23/1 here. Keegan Bradley finished T10 last year and T4 the year before and could go well at 22/1.
Outsiders to watch
Last week we suggested you keep an eye on Charley Hoffman at 22/1 and the 37 year old kept himself in contention in San Antonio, eventually finishing T11. It was his fifth top 10 finish this season and he is often there or thereabouts in this event – a T6 being his best finish. He represents great each way value at 50/1.
Over the last few weeks we’ve tipped Graham DeLaet to end his wait for a first PGA Tour title. He recorded five consecutive top 10 finishes earlier this season including successive second places and, since then, has added another top 10 result with his T8 at the Valspar Championship.
He finished T3 at this event in 2010 and would seem to have the perfect game for this course. The Canadian is a 30/1 chance.
There have been some surprise winners on the Tour this year and so another man looking for his first Tour win is the tall Jason Kokrak. He may not be a household name but he has recorded six top 20 finishes this season already including a 4th place finish at the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Ranked ninth on the Tour in total driving and GIR, Kokrak was also 9th at this event in 2013. We think he may be worth a small investment at 45/1.
Steven Bowditch’s surprise win at the Texas Open last week made him the third Australian to win in the last 7 PGA Tour events. It’s been a good year for the Aussies so far and Bowditch is 130/1 to win back-to-back events. Last year’s winner DA Points is also a 130/1 chance.
Check out all our odds on the 2014 Shell Houston Open over at our main site at https://www.betbright.com/golf/51633018/56404148/105751551