GOLF guru Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) delivers his verdict on the Shell Houston Open.
Shell Houston Open | Thursday-Sunday | Sky Sports
I’ve been waiting for this traditional Masters warm-up since the day it finished last year – it’s the one that got away.
JB Holmes was my confident 1st Round leader tip – he finished second on Day 1, which wasn’t bad at all, but went on to win the tournament at 28/1.
The 7,400 yard tournament course at the Golf Club of Houston in Redstone, Texas plays host once again. What the designers have tried to do here is replicate a little of the course that players face next week at Augusta.
Here is the point where I try and steer myself away from dreaming about The Masters and back to the job in hand. In fairness, they have done a really good job.
This track obviously will never have the challenges of the wonderful Augusta but with little (almost no) rough and greens that are difficult to hit, it’s a great little warm-up.
Like its more famous cousin (stop mentioning The Masters) this place has turned into a bombers track. To be honest, where else is JB Holmes going to win other than somewhere that rewards booming drives with very little penalty to those who occasionally miss the target.
Talking of missing fairways, step forward this week’s first pick. There is always a little bit of emotion with this one because I love the guy, but Phil Mickleson has really looked like he has found a bit of form recently.
Mickleson was my tip here last time because I think the course suits him beautifully. A 17th-placed finish followed but that’s five Top-20s in a row here, including a win in 2011. 20/1 (888) is probably shorter than you would like to back him at these days but it’s Phil and I just can’t resist a nibble.
You have no idea how close I am to tipping Sergio Garcia right now – even as I am writing this, but I just cant do it. I am going to reject one choker for another but one who has the perfect game for this course and particularly the par-5s.
Step forward Dustin Johnson. He’s in fairly good nick right now with 4-14-5 finishes in his last three starts. At 15/1 (Sportingbet) he is going off approximately double the price of the favourite and on a track like this, he’s one to have on your side.
Honesty time now; I really fancy Rickie Fowler but I also really like Rickie next week and the winner here never wins the big one.
I have left Fowler alone for that reason and also, I’m not too keen on 12/1 on offer. It’s a little skinny, although the young man is sneaky long this year. He might be worth an in-play bet if someone gets off to a really quick start and there is something around 20/1 available.
Tony Finau has zero course form of any value – 42nd on debut last year. He also had zero form of any kind until winning the Puerto Rico Open on Sunday. If you read last week’s piece, you may recall me talking about Ian Poulter being unable to win on Sundays because of his aggression.
Obviously Poults surrendered a 54-hole lead last week to Finau. A monster hitter, I like riding the guy in form and although he may not win, 80/1 is a damn good each-way play with BetVictor.
Jason Kokrak would be a really good First Round Leader pick here as would someone like Charley Hoffman, but I think Kokrak could go well over the full 72-holes, as he did at Riviera.
The 100/1 is a fairly attractive play but with a little bit of quality at the top of the field, I will go with the 9/1 (Coral) on offer for Kokrak to complete a Top-10 finish. He already has a ninth-place to his name here.
We were so close to a First Round Leader last year and I am going to have one more crack. Lets go with Charley Hoffman – he has made the cut on every one of his nine starts here including an 11th last year and is each-way value at 66/1 (Bet365).
Shell Houston Open – Phil Mickelson to win (20/1 each-way 888)
Shell Houston Open – Dustin Johnson to win (15/1 Sportinget)
Shell Houston Open – Tony Finau to win (80/1 each-way BetVictor)
Shell Houston Open – Jason Kolrak to finish in the Top-10 (9/1 Coral)
Shell Houston Open – Charley Hoffman to be First Round Leader (66/1 each-way Bet365)
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