The Shell Houston Open preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
A week off for the bore fest that is match play last week – always admitting that it can be an interesting format….Ryder Cup. So back to real golf with the now traditional pre Masters warm up the Shell Houston Open.
Played in Humble Texas the Golf Club of Houston’s 7,400 yard course has to be vulnerable to wind and one has to wonder what good that does the principal contenders for next week.
The course does offer the prospect of slippery surfaces with close shorn run off areas – with scramblers having done well this week down the years. An interesting stat when set against the difficulty in getting up and down this course has posed. Throw in minimal rough and the event has evolved into an Augusta-light in an attempt to lure the top players.
Which they haven’t. Dustbin pulled out. No Rory, Jason, Justin..etc, etc. Still they do have Speith and he’s done well here and is the top dog tee to green this season. Speiths build up to the Masters has been curious with just two events in the last five weeks. After a purple patch he’s gone off somewhat which perhaps explains the time off. You can easily see him in the mix but he’s too short at 7/1. Rahm backed into his first win and as talented as he is there must be a suspicion he’s a spent force after seven rounds in five days at the match play. Henrik has a great record here but never wins. Rose, Rickie and Milky – all at the forefront of the market – have shown glimpses of form but look no value. Scot has won this but does he play golf these days? You could argue that of the lot Milky can embrace winning here without fear of that impacting on his Masters bid. My concern is he started to hit it really wide when it contention in Mexico. And I mean really wide. Were it not for the dodgiest fan drop ever he’d have posted at least 2 more but that would have been a top ten regardless. It was the way his long game went that surprised. Having said that this course is ideal for wayward hitting and a killer short game. Again he’s just too short.
Tony Finau 1pt e/w at $41 with
Billy Horschel 1pt e/w at $51 with
Bryson De Chambeau 1pt e/w at $71 with
Tony Finau flattered to deceive last time out at the Arnold Palmer when he played sensational golf tee to green and looked to be playing himself into a top five. We went for him on the back of a great Valspar and three top tens in his previous seven starts. He’s broken 70 four times in six rounds here so he must like the place. Long and hitting greens he’ll need a good scrambling and putting week to post a second Tour win and earn a Masters place.
Billy Horschel also needs to win to secure a Masters spot and he’s showing signs he just might recapture his late 2014 form. A second here in 2013 when he was a Tour maiden shows he likes the place and his subsequent absence is simply down to the fact he had earned his Masters spot the past three years. Ten starts in 2017 for a 2nd and two top tens set’s him up nicely for the real golf. It’s been streaky but a T4 at the Honda and a nice T13 at the Arnold Palmer augur well. It’s all about putting and if he posts a positive strokes gained figure on the greens he contends given his ball striking.
Bryson De Chambeau was 15 ft from the joint second one off the lead at one point at the Valspar only to miss and fade away somewhat. He had shown some great form to that point and promptly went down to Puerto Rico and finished runner up. Anyone who saw his last putt on the 72nd, which he had to make, can’t but be impressed that he has the temperament, talent and guts to win. His 21st in the Masters last year when he butchered the 18th twice will make him desperate to win here and he’s just the sort of player to do it.