HUMBLE, TX - APRIL 02: Russell Henley poses with the trophy on the 18th green after winning the Shell Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston on April 2, 2017 in Humble, Texas. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Tournament Overview

The PGA Tour is staying in Texas this week for the Shell Houston Open, which will be played at The Golf Club of Houston. This course, formerly known as Redstone Golf Club, has been home to this event since 2006. This tournament has been commonly used as a good Masters prep for those who have already qualified or a last-ditch effort to get into the Masters for those who have not.

To the credit of The Golf Club of Houston, they have set this course up to play as close to Augusta as possible. By doing so, they entice a fairly strong field of players to stay in Texas and get some competition-level prep for the Masters. We are back to the traditional stroke play format here with a full field, Top-70 and ties make the cut.

Last year’s winner was Russell Henley, who shot a low score of -20 to win by three strokes. Henley’s win got him into the Masters, which is a common theme for this tournament and a huge motivation for a lot of the field. The average winning score here over the last five years is 16-under par, which is about average on tour. The weather conditions are something to monitor here as wind and rain are common and can significantly change how the course will play.

One thing to monitor or be aware of is the players who have already qualified. They may not do everything in their power to win this week, but rather hit more shots that they anticipate hitting next week’s major. Here is a look at some of the top players in the field this week:

  • Rickie Fowler
  • Justin Rose
  • Jordan Spieth
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Henrik Stenson

 

Course Breakdown

The Golf Club of Houston is a 7,441 Par 72 that again, sets up very similarly to Augusta National. The fairways are ryegrass and have limited rough on the edges. The course is filled with bunkers and water hazards in multiple areas, so players will need to consider this off the tee if they plan to compete. Some of the holes are better suited to club down off the tee, which differs from the common approach at Augusta.

The greens are bentgrass and should play fast (12-13 on the stimp), barring any rain that would slow them down considerably. These greens are known to be fairly large and flat for the most part, so they will not be nearly as challenging as what players will see in a few weeks.

Although this course is set up to play similarly to Augusta, there are some distinct differences that will lead to differing play from those who are trying to get the win.

 

Key Stats

Historically the winners here do not come from one specific type of player, as we have seen accuracy and distance prevail. There is some rain in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, so if that comes to fruition this course could play a bit longer and softer.

Scoring on the Par 5’s is always important, but the Par 4’s may be just as important this week. They play pretty difficult, so staying on or under par there could be the difference in making or missing The Masters. Here is a look at the stats I will be considering this week when building my model:

  • Strokes Gained Approach (25-30%)
  • GIR Gained (15-20%)
  • Good Drives Gained (15-20%)
  • Par 4 Scoring 450-500 (10-15%)
  • Proximity 200+ (10-15%)
  • Strokes Gained T2G (10-15%)

I will be taking a look at putting as well, but I do not like to put that in my model due to the high variance. Here is a look at top-20 based on my model for that last 24 rounds on Bent Grass:

 

Fantasy Strategy

Normal fantasy stroke play strategy comes back into play here. Emphasis should be placed on getting 6/6 through the cut, while maintaining winning upside. This is a pretty solid field, so you should be able to accomplish this while still getting some ownership leverage on the field.

I expect most people to take one of the Top-5 and then go balanced form there. I could also see taking two guys up top and a few sleepers down below, but that will not be my strategy for the most part. I think the winner will come from the mid-tier, so I will be getting exposure to a good chunk of those guys.

As always, be sure to leave a little money on the table to differentiate your lineups and eliminate the chance of duplicates. Monitor ownership and try to find some leverage throughout the week.

If you are looking for a good indicator of ownership, I like to use Fanshare Sports. Each week they review all the related DFS content they can find and count the number of times a player is mentioned. This is listed as a “tag”. These tags are continuously updated throughout the week and then they release ownership projections on Wednesday nights. This is a really quick and easy way to get a feeling for ownership and popular roster construction for any given week. Finding leverage or pivot plays is crucial for GPP success and the best way to do so is by analyzing accurate ownership projections.

They have a really good promotion going on right now for a free month of their “Pro” membership, sign up through the link below. If you have any questions on how to use the site, feel free to message me on twitter.

Link for free month can be found here

Picks

*Disclaimer – these are done early in week and may be subject to change as ownership projections evolve*

$10k+

Justin Rose ($11,400) – He has been playing really well this entire year with a number of top 10’s AND he plays very well at Augusta every year. To no surprise he rates out great in my model and I think he will make a great play. I have a feeling he will be chalky, but I will look to differentiate elsewhere and keep my rose exposure.

Jordan Spieth ($11,100) – We all know how well Jordan plays at Augusta every year and this is an Augusta-like course in Texas. Where is Jordan Spieth from – Texas. He has been putting poorly this entire year, but he can snap that at any moment. A common theme will be hoping for Jordan to play poorly this week, so his ownership stays down next week, but I am jumping in now. I think he can easily win this week and add to the already insanely high Masters hype.

$9k

Luke List ($9,600) – I have been playing List all year and I am not going to stop now. He was eliminated early last week in the match play, but he had a chance to beat JT, while putting with his WEDGE. I think he is due a win and a long course with relatively easy greens seems likes a great place for List. He is also a little expensive, so I am hoping this helps keep his ownership down.

Tony Finau ($9,000) – Finau has been playing really well this year and he had a good showing last week as well. He is rating out well in my model and it would not surprise me to see him win this week. I will be monitoring his ownership though, he is a darling of the DFS community and can easily garner a lot of ownership.

$8k

Byeong Hun An ($8,700) – I do not have a great feel for An, but he is rating out exceptionally well in my model besides his proximity numbers. If I expect him to be low owned then I will most likely be overweight and hope he can put up a good score. He is a good player and seems fairly priced, as long as he makes the cut.

Keegan Bradley ($8,600) – Keegan has been playing very well this year T2G and he is just an awful putter. I will take some shots and hope his putter gets going on these potentially easy greens. A little rain in the forecast could play even more favorably for Keegan this week.

$7k

Scott Piercy ($7,500) – Piercy is number 1 in my model somehow, so I have to take a look. He is historically a good putter on bent grass and plays well in the wind. This week could bode well for him and I do not think it will take much to be overweight. I will have some shares and trust the numbers.

Chez Reavie ($7,300) – Chez is not playing quite as well as he was on his tear to start the season, but $7,300 just seems like a crime. I think he is easily an $8k player, so I will definitely have some shares of him. He also rates out in my model and I think he is a good bet to make the cut.

$6k

Robert Garrigus ($6,600) – I was all over Garrigus in the DR and he burned me bad, but I am going to come back here with some GPP darts. He should be very low-owned, so it will not take much to be overweight. If I make some top-heavy lineups, I will look to use Garrigus to save some salary.

Danny Lee ($6,500) – I do not feel great about this one, but again he rates out well in my model. He is also plays decent in the wind and on Bent grass. This is a GPP dart and I will not have much, but an option down low if you need some $$$.

 

Final Thoughts

I think this should be a pretty fun tournament to watch and get ready for the Masters next week. I had a rough week last week, so I am looking to get right before the first major of the year. Be sure to monitor ownership throughout the week and adjust your rosters accordingly.

I would not be completely shocked to see the winner come from the mid-tier and qualify someone for the Masters. I think the guys up top can obviously compete and win any week, but they may be using this for competitive practice vs. really trying to win. I’d say Jordan or Rickie could use some good mojo heading into Augusta, so I do expect them to give it a good run.

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @thetipsandyips & @TheGolfFamily. Hope you all have a good week and win some $$$. Good luck and feel free to share your results!

Thanks for reading!

 

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