Horses for Courses: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open

With only last year’s event to inspect, we gotta little help from our friend.

Defending champion Carlos Ortiz WD with a shoulder injury Tuesday.

Last year Memorial Park Golf Course was preparing 132 players for the first-ever fall Masters Tournament. After Tom Doak completed his 2019 renovation this became the first time this municipal track hosted a TOUR event since the early 1960s

Wild times.

Last year Carlos Ortiz won this inaugural event and then in his next start went on to finish second at Mayakoba. Last week he finished second at Mayakoba but he withdrew this week due to an injury.

Last year Dustin Johnson (not entered) and Hideki Matsuyama (not entered) finished tied for second. Johnson went on to win the Masters the following week and Matsuyama won the Masters proper the following April.

Wild, wild times.

After just one event on a new track it can be difficult to sort data so I’ve turned to Rob Bolton and his Power Rankings for this week for clues. I’ve passed along my findings so you can use them as part of your formula for cracking the Memorial Park code this week. Bolton’s analysis is the standard bearer on our field so not using his insight would be a bit daft. Plus he gave Horses for Courses a shout out last week so I’ll gladly return the favor.

Tom Doak’s redesign of Memorial Park had help from Brooks Koepka as player-consultant. The Par-70 stretches just over 7,400 yards and interestingly enough employs FIVE Par-3 holes and THREE Par-5 holes. The combination of yardage and an additional Par-5 makes sense that the leaderboard was filled with guys who could get after it last year. Mini Verde Bermuda greens are on average of 7,000 square feet making ample targets to aim for from the fairway or from the two inches of 419 Bermuda guarding them. Only 19 bunkers and two water hazards (in play on just four holes) will keep play at a decent pace on the other 51 weeks of the season. Torrey Pines is the only other municipal course used on TOUR annually.

A field of 132 returns this week to claim a piece of the $7.5 million purse and a trip to the Masters and Sentry Tournament of Champions. The winner will also pocket $1.35 million and 500 FedExCup points plus a two-year exemption.

This week I’ve provided a different angle for gamers. I’ve listed the top finishers, as usual, but I’ve also included a few stat categories from last year that might provide clues for the event this time around.

Recent Event Winners Stats

Season2021
Year2020
WinnerCarlos Ortiz
Score13-under
MOV2
Runner-UpDustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama
Age29
  
All Drives13
AccuracyT51
GIRT8
Ball-Striking20
ProximityT22
  
Putting: Birdie or Better %T20
SG: Off-the-Tee31
SG: Approach-the-Green14
SG: Around-the-Green2
SG: Putting5
SG: Tee-to-Green5
  
Scrambling1
Bogey AvoidanceT1
  
Par-3 ScoringT4
Par-4 ScoringT14
Par-5 ScoringT1

2020 Debut Winner

Carlos Ortiz (-13, 267)

Editor’s note: Unable to defend his title after withdrawing this week due to injury

Fired a final round 65, his best of the week, to win by two shots. … At the time became the third Mexican to win on TOUR. … One of three players to post all four rounds in the 60s. … Trailed by one after 54 holes and two after 36 holes. … Led or co-led the field in Scrambling, Bogey Avoidance and Par-5 scoring. … Cashed T35, T48 in the two events he played prior. … Claims his first TOUR victory at age 29 in his 118th start.

Notes

Only 14 bogey-free rounds for the week. … Top 37 finished in red figures. … Only three players 10-under or better. … Lowest round of the week was 63 set by Mackenzie Hughes (T7), Hideki Matsuyama (T2; not entered) and Talor Gooch (4th), all on Sunday. … Brandt Snedeker (T44) led with 65 after 18 holes. … Sam Burns (T7) led by two after 36 holes and one after 54 holes. … Cut was 3-over 143. … 71.025 scoring average.

Key stat leaders from 2020 EDITION

Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
PlayerRankFinish
    
Sam Burns1 T7
Dustin Johnson2 T2
Harold Varner III3 T15
Shane Lowry4 T11
Carlos Ortiz5 WIN
Hideki Matsuyama6 T2
Patton Kizzire7 T11
Jason Day 8 T7
Maverick McNealy9 T20
Adam Long10 T11
Talor Gooch11 4th
Aaron Wise12 T11
    
Strokes Gained: Putting
PlayerRankFinish
    
Mackenzie Hughes1 T7
Brooks Koepka2 T5
Dawie van der Walt3 T20
Sepp Straka4 T5
Carlos Ortiz5 WIN
Austin Cook6 T24
Tyrrell Hatton7 T7
Talor Gooch8 4th
Doc Redman9 T61
Hideki Matsuyama10 T2
Russell Knox11 T15
Erik van Rooyen12 T20
James Hahn13 T50
JT Poston14 T20
    
Par-5 Scoring
PlayerRankFinish
    
Sam Burns1 T7
Hideki Matsuyama1 T2
Carlos Ortiz1 WIN
Brice Garnett1 T50
Brandt Snedeker5 T44
Justin Harding5 T38
Lanto Griffin7 T58
Aaron Wise7 T11
Erik Barnes7 T38
Talor Gooch7 4th
Matt Jones7 63
    
Birdies
PlayerRankTotal BirdiesFinish
    
Hideki Matsuyama121T2
Will Gordon220T38
Brooks Koepka220T5
Dustin Johnson220T2
Adam Scott519T32
Sepp Straka618T5
Mackenzie Hughes618T7
Carlos Ortiz618WIN
Viktor Hovland917T15
Scottie Scheffler917T32
Shane Lowry917T11
Cameron Tringale917T29
Jason Day917T7
Maverick McNealy917T20

Horses for Courses: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open

PlayerScoreTournament Finish2020 Notes
    
Talor Gooch-94thClosed with 63, co-low round of the week; 2nd Putting
Brooks Koepka-8T5Closed 65-65; Player design consultant
Sepp Straka-8T5All 4 rounds in the 60s; T8 GIR
Sam Burns-7T7Led by 2 after 36; Led by 1 after 54; First 54 hole lead
Jason Day-7T7T5 GIR
Tyrrell Hatton -7T7Top 10 Putts and GIR
Mackenzie Hughes -7T7Closed 68-63
Adam Long-6T11Top 10 Fairways and GIR
Shane Lowry-6T11All 4 rounds in the 60s 
Aaron Wise-6T11T1 GIR
Russell Knox-5T15Just 5 bogeys, 1 Double
Francesco Molinari-5T15T5 Putts
Michael Thompson-5T15T4 Fairways
Harold Varner III-5T154th GIR

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2020-2021 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.

Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green 
RankPlayer
  
11Brooks Koepka
13Sergio Garcia
16Tony Finau
18Tyrrell Hatton
19Shane Lowry
20Russell Henley
21Scottie Scheffler
23Luke List
24Charley Hoffman
25Seamus Power
25Aaron Wise
31Jhonattan Vegas
32Joaquin Niemann
33Harold Varner III
35Kyle Stanley
37Jason Day
39Sungjae Im
  
Strokes-Gained: Putting 
RankPlayer
  
2JT Poston
3Ian Poulter
4Patrick Reed
5Zach Johnson
6Jason Kokrak
9Sam Burns
10Cameron Smith
11Chesson Hadley
15Mackenzie Hughes
16Cameron Tringale
18Adam Scott
22Denny McCarthy
25Brian Harman
27Hank Lebioda
31Brice Garnett
34Lanto Griffin
  
Par-5 Scoring 
RankPlayer
  
1Cameron Smith
7Brooks Koepka
7Sergio Garcia
7Ryan Palmer
11Sam Burns
13Max Homa
13Joaquin Niemann
13Brian Harman
21Scottie Scheffler
21Carlos Ortiz
21Luke List
21Anirban Lahiri
28Hank Lebioda
30Sungjae Im
30Vincent Whaley
35Talor Gooch
35Tony Finau
35Patrick Reed
35Kevin Tway
35Cameron Tringale
42Sepp Straka
42Matthew Wolff
42Aaron Wise
42Seamus Power
42Brandt Snedeker

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