Kuch Too Cute For Shell Houston Field
Shell Houston Open
The PGA Tour heads to the sweltering south as a world class field make last minute Masters’ preparation at the Shell Houston Open.
Since 2007, the Houston Open has become the warm-up event for the Masters, and is also the last chance for players not currently in the top fifty to sneak into that club and so qualify for the year’s first Major. The tournament has a healthy prize fund of $6.6 million and most of the world’s top players will be in attendance in Texas this week.
At 7,441 yards long, with plenty of bunkers, and lightning fast greens, the Redstone course at the Golf Club of Houston is a good preparation for Augusta. Punters should be looking for long hitters, solid putters, and good scramblers. This is a demanding course; the water-dominated par four eighteenth is one of the toughest holes on the Tour, and a player has to be in some sort of form to do well there.
In The Bunker
Having emerged victorious in San Antonio at 20/1 last week, Jimmy Walker will be confident of landing a Texas double in Houston, but as his current price, he can be opposed. Although he regularly makes the cut in this event, he’s only once cracked the top-twenty five. Back to back wins on the PGA Tour are pretty rare and at odds of 12/1 he looks a little short in such a competitive tournament.
After looking good in January, Matt Kuchar’s form has dipped in recent weeks, but there were positive signs at the Texas Open as he hit a final round 69 to make the top fifteen, and that bodes well for an event where he has a solid record.
He made the top ten in Houston in 2010 and 2011 and after missing the 2012 and 2013 editions, returned last year to finish second after losing out to Matt Jones in a play-off.
He’s a reliable player coming in to form and at 14/1 is better value than Walker.
Patrick Reed was last seen losing out in a play-off at the Valspar Championship, but after a couple of weeks off is a good bet to bounce back in Houston. He has already bagged one title this season, and with wiser shot selection he might have had a couple more. His scrambling ability will stand him in good stead this week and if he can temper his risk-taking instincts, he has a great chance at 16/1.
After four failures on the PGA Tour including three missed cuts, Justin Rose doesn’t stand out as an obvious selection, but his decision to play this event for the first time since 2010 is an interesting one. He finished inside the top fifteen that year so has some course form, and knows how to peak for a Major. You won’t be able to back him at 35/1 too often this year, so he’s worth adding to your shortlist.