Last week it was a case of another tournament, another Dustin Johnson win and yet another poor betting week. With the Masters next week and confidence a little low I’m not planning on getting too involved this week as I save the stakes for Jordan Spieth (barring any torrential rain over the coming week at Augusta).
Total 2017 pts advised =135pts
Total 2017 pts returned = 77.66pts
ROI = -42.5%
Shell Houston Open
Last year I came to the conclusion that there were four key attributes to playing well at Humble Golf Club and they were par 4 scoring, driving distance, GIR and holing out well. While it didn’t help me find the rather left-field winner Jim Herman, I think the skill-set applied quite well. I’ve looked at the same attributes again as Herman did seem to conform even if he wasn’t an obvious winner.
Justin Rose hasn’t played a lot of golf this year due to injury so unlike some of the others at the top of the market, he will be eager to get the most out of Houston in order to prepare for Augusta. In recent times he has missed this tournament as he prefers a week off to prepare for a major however he was 14th in 2010. But with his relative lack of events I think it is telling that he is teeing it up on a course that doesn’t immediately jump out as one that will suit him.
Since Rose became the world-class force that he is, he has played well the week before his win. On his last 6 wins he has finished 22nd, 6th, 2nd, 1st, 8th and 5th in the tournaments preceding his win. He is good enough and experienced enough now to see no negatives in winning the week before and we have seen plenty of the game’s best players do it over the last 10-15 years.
Rose is no slouch off the tee and he ranked 26th in driving distance in 2016. Few players hit more greens on a consistent basis and over the last 3 months he ranks 15th for Par 4 scoring. While he isn’t the best of putters, it is usually more the 5ft-15ft range that he struggles with rather than holing out. He has always looked more assured on smoother bentgrass greens and 5 of his 7 PGA Tour wins have been on the surface. Ultimately though, Rose just looks a little forgotten about in this field and at 22/1 he looks a very solid each way play.
With Tony Finau just missing out on the match play there was a lot of talk about him last week and that has held over this week heading into Houston. Despite missing the cut last year, the wide open fairways and length of the course suggest that Finau should be suited to the layout. Last year, while he was playing very well at the time, he wasn’t hitting as many greens as he is this year and he was also coming off his first PGA Tour win the week before. That is never quite ideal as you only have three days to celebrate and prepare for the next week. This year he ranks 14th for GIR whereas he finished the 2016 season in 106th place. That improvement will help him on a second shot course like he faces here. Digging a little deeper into the GIR stats shows that Finau is performing even better from 175-200 yards as he is 3rd on Tour. A solid long iron game will always be helpful on a course where past winners include Hunter Mahan, Paul Casey and Adam Scott.
It’s very possible that Finau won’t putt well enough to win this but the switch over to bentgrass should be favourable for him. While he is beginning to look a little skinny at 40/1, he will have the added motivation of trying to qualify for the Masters next week and hopefully that will be enough to see him get competitive and give us a run for our money.
Last year I tipped Lydia Ko to win the first Women’s major of the year at 9/2 (almost the last winner on the blog!) and while she is in fairly poor form by her standards, I can’t resist the 18/1 on offer this time around at the ANA Inspiration. It is more of a suggestion on price alone as the odds make her 10th favourite this week and while the strength in-depth on the LPGA is by far and away the best it has ever been, I feel like her achievements have been dismissed a little too easily here. Ko did miss her last cut but prior to that she recorded 3 top 10s in a row. The New Zealander has changed clubs and coach since her last win in July so a transitional period was to be expected but it is surely just a matter of time before she turns things around. At odds of 18/1 it’s easy to play this week just incase last year’s major win inspires her again. Just 1pt win only though.
Summary of Bets
Justin Rose – 1pt ew @ 22/1
Tony Finau – 1pt ew @ 40/1
Lydia Ko – 1pt win only at 18/1
Weekly points advised – 5pts
Total pts advised – 140pts