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
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
|Runner-Up||Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama|
|Putting: Birdie or Better %||T20|
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.
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|
|Harold Varner III||3||T15|
|Strokes Gained: Putting|
|Dawie van der Walt||3||T20|
|Erik van Rooyen||12||T20|
Horses for Courses: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open
|Player||Score||Tournament Finish||2020 Notes|
|Talor Gooch||-9||4th||Closed with 63, co-low round of the week; 2nd Putting|
|Brooks Koepka||-8||T5||Closed 65-65; Player design consultant|
|Sepp Straka||-8||T5||All 4 rounds in the 60s; T8 GIR|
|Sam Burns||-7||T7||Led by 2 after 36; Led by 1 after 54; First 54 hole lead|
|Jason Day||-7||T7||T5 GIR|
|Tyrrell Hatton||-7||T7||Top 10 Putts and GIR|
|Mackenzie Hughes||-7||T7||Closed 68-63|
|Adam Long||-6||T11||Top 10 Fairways and GIR|
|Shane Lowry||-6||T11||All 4 rounds in the 60s|
|Aaron Wise||-6||T11||T1 GIR|
|Russell Knox||-5||T15||Just 5 bogeys, 1 Double|
|Francesco Molinari||-5||T15||T5 Putts|
|Michael Thompson||-5||T15||T4 Fairways|
|Harold Varner III||-5||T15||4th 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.
|33||Harold Varner III|