Memorial Park Golf Course, Houston TX
For the second consecutive year, the Houston Open will be contested on a Memorial Park Golf course that was re-designed by Tom Doak with assistance from Brooks Koepka. The course is considered a second-shot track that requires some precision and is unlikely to produce a low winning score – at least compared to the last few weeks. Carlos Ortiz won the tournament in 2021 but will not defend his title as he sustained an injury in last week’s event in Mexico.
Who should win? – Sam Burns (14/1)
Burns is the odds-on favorite this week and is one of the Tours hottest players in the past few months. He has few weaknesses and has developed a pronounced “strut” that is indicative of a player who is becoming very sure of himself.
Who could win? – Sungjae Im (25/1), Talor Gooch (33/1), Scottie Scheffler (16/1), Matthew Wolff (33/1)
Im is always a threat to win with his consistent tee to green play. The only concern I would have is that he has taken the last three weeks off. He is a player who generally plays better when he plays a lot and might have some rust this week. Gooch has won only one pro tournament on the Korn Ferry Tour but his last four tournaments have been: T4, T11, T5, T11. He looks ready for a breakthrough. Scheffler also appears to be a player who should win his maiden tournament at any time. Or, he could be another Finau or Oosthuizen who are always around the lead but can rarely close. I thought Wolff was going to run away with last week’s event (I would have been richer for it), but couldn’t make up for an over-par round on Saturday when everyone was going very low. He did come back with a 65 on Sunday and finished T5. Wolff is one player who is too talented not to win again very soon.
Who will win? – Brooks Koepka (28/1)
Koepka did not play well last week but he did finish T5 last year on a course in which he had some creative input. Koepka is a player you can always count on being in the hunt during a major but seems to treat regular Tour events as warm-ups. But once in a while he finds himself close to the lead in one of these unworthy events and decides “what the hell, I might as well win it”. That could happen this weekend. It would not surprise me to see a Burns/Koepka duel.
Some long-shots to consider – Sepp Straka (125/1), Taylor Pendrith (90/1)
Straka’s last three results have not been noteworthy but he did make his last three cuts and his finishes have gotten progressively better (T66, T51, T33). Interestingly, he finished T5 in this event last year and T4 the year before on a different course. Could there be something about playing in Houston that brings out Straka’s best golf? Pendrith is a big Canadian player I have been watching for the past few years. He was very competitive on the Korn Ferry and he has produced some decent results since his graduation to the big Tour. He has made his last five cuts and had an impressive T5 in Bermuda and led after 54. He fell apart a bit on Sunday but that does happen to the best of them. Expect to see him in the winner’s circle this year.