Preview: Vivint Houston Open

New track on TOUR for the third time in four weeks! We won’t have to worry about that next week but there’s work to be done here first.

Make sure your rosters are up-to-date:

Vivint Houston Open

Memorial Park Golf Course

Houston

Yards (per official scorecard):7,432
Par:70 (35-35)
Greens:Mini-Verde Bermuda, around 7,000 square feet.
Stimpmeter:Tournament speed around 12 feet.
Rough:419 Bermudagrass at two inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards19/2 (in play on four holes).
Architects:John Bredemus (1936); Tom Doak (2019).
Purse:$7 million; $1.26 million, plus 500 FedExCup points to the winner.
Defending Champion (Event):Lanto Griffin.
Defending Champion (Course):Inaugural event.
Fact of the Week:73rd edition in the city of Houston, first at Memorial Park since 1963.

Notes:

  • Full field of 132 players.
  • First time at Memorial Park.
  • Top 65 and ties play the weekend.

2020-2021  Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

EventWinner
Safeway OpenStewart Cink
120th United States OpenBryson DeChambeau
Corales Punta Cana ChampionshipHudson Swafford
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipSergio Garcia
Shriners Hospitals for ChildrenMartin Laird (playoff)
CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEKJason Kokrak
ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIPPatrick Cantlay
Bermuda ChampionshipBrian Gay

Check out HORSES FOR COURSES for more details and angles for this week.

Event Winners:

YearPlayerNotes
2019Lanto GriffinWon the final edition at Golf Club of Houston in the fall portion last year.

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record:Inaugural event on this track.
Course Record:N/A.
Lowest Rounds – Last YearN/A.
Recent Defending Champion(s) Event:N/A.
Multiple Winners (event or course):N/A.  
Oldest  Winner:N/A.
Youngest Winner:N/A.
First Time – TOUR:N/A.
First Time – EventN/A.
Odd Fact:First time using a Tom Doak design for a TOUR event.
Odd Fact II:Only second municipal course to be on the TOUR schedule (Torrey Pines) for the regular season.

Quick Thoughts

While this is not Golf Club of Houston, many of the particulars are similar. Closely-mown areas, Bermuda greens cut very slick and a lack of rough will make Memorial Park feel somewhat similar.

37 players will play the Masters next week so the field has some teeth.

Five Par-3 holes should also add some flavor.

Weather should be benign this week and the wind is from the east all week. Nobody likes dealing with wind from four different directions over four days.

New track usually points to baller ball-strikers and this week shouldn’t be any different.

Only 19 bunkers will bring decision making into play greenside. Runoffs and closely mown areas will force players to decide to chip, pitch, hybrid, nip, lob, bump-and-run and putt from those interesting resting places. Decisions are a FANTASTIC defense. Make them think!

Scoring, scoring and risk-rewarding. The final few holes are designed for leaderboard movement, not survival. I’d expect, with the lack of rough, big greens and few penalty areas, scores to be on the low side.

Chalk – Betting Favorites (Bet365.com) under 30-1

Dustin Johnson (+750): No, that’s not a misprint! First event back since COVID break and five Par-5s should have his attention quickly. Too bad we missed him at Sherwood where he held the course record and played a million times. His worst finish in his last five events anywhere is T6.

Tyrrell Hatton (+1600): Winner at Wentworth and a shared podium at Shadow Creek suggest he was flying before T28 at Sherwood slowed him down. T8 last year at Colonial, another John Bredemus design.

Hideki Matsuyama (+1800): I have a rule. If you haven’t cashed T-odds recently, I can’t load up. After T17 at Winged Foot he MC at Shriners and then rattled off T21 at Shadow Creek and T28 at Sherwood. One top 10 after the restart pushes me away.

Tony Finau (+2000): Another COVID casualty from the fall season, Finau bounced back with T11 at ZOZO to knock off the rust. Of his last six events on TOUR five have cashed T14 or better. Par-breaker maker.

Brooks Koepka (+2200): The only good news here is getting +2200, which we know doesn’t happen ever with Koepka. The design consultant factor here is wildly overrated but the positive sign is he’s playing and is not resting before Augusta next week.

Viktor Hovland (+2200): Big-time ball-striker on unfamiliar greens seems the perfect tonic. He’s only played 30-odd TOUR events so I could literally type this each week. Big concern here is the short game, which he’s admitted is his biggest weakness.

Scottie Scheffler (+2200): Starting to move back in the right direction after his COVID vacation (no U.S. Open). T17 at Sherwood after T52 at Shadow Creek in two elite fields should help. Yet to win on TOUR, the Texan will have plenty in his corner this week. Yes, there will be some fans this week!

Russell Henley (+2200): Nobody plays better in this city as he was a top 10 machine at Golf Club of Houston and a past champion. If the course plays similarly to GCH, Henley should be licking his chops based on that history and he roars into town off back-to-back top four paydays. Cha-ching.

Sungjae Im (+2800): Makes too many birdies because he hits too many fairways and greens. That’s an awfully good recipe this week. Last top 10 was on Bermuda at Wyndham. Ding.

Select Next Tier (33-1 and up)

Adam Scott (+3300): Only player to win the Texas Grand Slam (Houston, Valero, Colonial, and Byron Nelson) returns for the first time (COVID) since the U.S. Open. Is he 40 yet? Oh, look, he is! Would you be surprised if carried the fall trend forward? Not me.

Sergio Garcia (+4000): I like him more next week than this week.

Jason Day (+4000): Based on his recent form, I’d need this to be doubled to be interested.

Zach Johnson (+4000): Five straight paydays and four T23 or better. Hasn’t won since 2015 so look other places for value.

Si Woo Kim (+4000): Led after 54 holes at Wyndham on Bermuda but couldn’t close the deal. T17 and T8 in the Las Vegas events the last time out. Nibbles.

Lanto Griffin (+4000): Defending champ played in the final three-some at Sherwood and was T7 at Shadow Creek.

Doc Redman (+5000): Loved him last week and now I get a bigger bite. Led after 54 holes but couldn’t get it over the finish line. Too young to be bothered as he keeps plowing up leader boards.

Brian Harman (+5500): Cashed in 10 straight but not a top 10 for his troubles.

Corey Conners (+5500): Past winner at Valero after MQ. Bit different this time around in Texas. Question will always be if he can make enough putts in a shootout.

Stewart Cink (+6600): Last week for Kip Henley on the bag as he is bringing back his son. His run of WIN, T12, T64 and T4 has been fantastic to watch. I haven’t been on board, sadly.

Longer Shots – Top 20 or Each Way Tickets

Denny McCarthy (+7000): It’s on Bermuda and those have been his best recent results. I also enjoy big targets for him to aim for! Yes, please.

James Hahn (+7000): Last three times he’s played he’s cashed T5 Shriners, T6 Corales and T9 after leading after 54 holes at Safeway. Two-time TOUR winner.

Alex Noren (+7500): Cashed in eight straight with six in the top 22.

Wyndham Clark (+7500): Gut punched from Gay last week. Interesting to see if or how he bounces back.

Lee Westwood (+8000): Ol’ pepper is painting fairways and cashing top 25 checks in Europe. Strikin’ balls regardless of continent.

J.T. Poston (+9000): Big greens and Bermuda has me interested, just like I was at SFC.

Matthew NeSmith (+11000): It’s Bermuda and he’s trending (T41-T17-T8). Large bite.

Ollie Schniederjans (+12500): Play the heat for another top 10, top 20.

Francesco Molinari (+15000): Missed the cut with 70-68 at Shriners was hardly garbage after six months off.

Kramer Hickok (+16000): Texas native playing very solidly is the last man in the field.

Bronson Burgoon (+35000): Always a soft spot for a MQ.

I’ll have others at Covers.com

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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