Golf Club of Houston, Humble TX Par 72, 7,441 Yards
Defending Champion: Russell Henley (-20) by three shots over Sung Kang
Primary Stats: SG: Ball Striking, Birdies or Better, Greens in Regulation
Secondary Stats: SG: Putting, Proximity: 200+ yards
Roster Lock: 9:00 am CST (10:00 EST, 8:00 MST, 7:00 PST)
Well that was a crazy finish to Friday. The cut was sitting at -4, until two of the last golfers on the course made bogey, to drop it down to -3. This means 90 golfers made the primary cut and will initiate the secondary cut for the first time this year. What this means is that after Round 3, Top 70 and ties will get to play Sunday. Those outside of the Top 70 still get paid and a few FedEx Cup points: they just don't get to play Sunday. This also means we may see some low ownership on golfers currently at -3 or -4, since they are the most vulnerable ones to miss the secondary cut. In tournaments, I don't mind taking a shot on one or two of them and hope they go low. But, understand the risk of being completely done if one shoots poorly and misses the secondary cut. Here are some things to look at and players to consider:
- There are 4 players who have not made a bogey through 36 holes: Henrik Stenson and Scott Piercy are bogey free. Phil Mickelson and Emiliano Grillo have not made a bogey, but have made at least a double bogey or worse.
- Three Players who have made 12 birdies, but sit at -5 or -6: Robert Garrigus, Troy Merritt, and Adam Schenk. Sam Ryder leads the way with 14 birdies.
- Grayson Murray (7,500) leads the field in SG: Tee-to-Green at +3.42, with a nice balance across the three categories (Off-the-Tee, Approach, Around-the-Green). He has lost over a stroke putting though. He has made 11 birdies, third best in the field. He was someone I was on a little bit coming into the week, but limited exposure to him due to his volatility. Same thing here: He has tremendous upside, but is also capable of shooting 77 in a round. High Risk, High Reward.
- I mentioned Phil Mickelson (9,300) as one of the players who haven't had a bogey. Instead, he has had a double and a triple. I know he will be poupular, but with 10 birdies and two awful holes (this is Phil after all), I can see a case for him. What is slightly concerning is that he is +2.47 Putting, and -1.56 Tee to Green. As you may be able to tell, I'm torn on what to do with Phil. I think the two bad holes are more of a fluke. But, that Tee-to-Green number scares me. I understand a fade: I understand a full out play.
- A couple of things concern me about Rickie Fowler (9,800): First, he's gained nearly 2.5 strokes Putting, though he his positive in every other strokes gained category. Second, he has had some awful Sunday rounds this year, while in contention. That's the only reason I may not play him in Weekend Golf.
- Instead, if I'm spending up, I'm looking at Justin Rose (9,700) and/or Jordan Spieth (9,500). Rose has shot 66 or 67 in four of his past five weekend rounds. He has gained 2.56 strokes Tee-to-Green, with everything being positive except Putting (-0.65). I love that profile for weekend golf. Spieth is second Tee-to-Green, gaining nearly 3 strokes. He's only slightly negative putting, but looks more confident in the putter than he has a lot of this season. Spieth has also made 12 birdies through 2 rounds.
- My potential low-owned flyer is one I actually wrote about in the main article this week: John Huh (7,300). 8 birdies and an eagle, Huh has gained 1.42 strokes Tee-to-Green. He's positive everywhere except a very slight negative (-0.06) Off the Tee. He does have some weekend rounds in the 60's this season, and at an expected low ownership, I'll take a chance on him.
- Golfers not already mentioned who have gained at least 1 stroke Tee-to-Green, but lost at least 1 stroke Putting (I will consider): J.B. Holmes, Jamie Lovemark, Bill Haas, Rory Sabbatini, Chris Kirk, and Fabian Gomez.
- Golfers not already mentioned who have gained at least 1 stroke Putting, but lost at least 1 stroke Tee-to-Green (I'm not playing): Andrew Putnam, Martin Piller, Stephen Jaeger, Rod Pampling, Kelly Kraft, Dominic Bozzelli
- Other Golfers I may end up in my Weekend Lineup: Russell Henley (the picture you see at the top of this article if on My Fantasy Fix), Chesson Hadley, Luke List, Henrik Stenson, Sam Ryder, and Keith Mitchell.
I posted my Masters article and updated tournament history file earlier on Friday. They are available for subscribers ($9.99 for 30 days) on the MFF login page. For everyone, including non-subscribers, I have the 2017 Majors Summary file up to reference. You can see who played well in all four majors from last year. Also, I will be on SiriusXM Saturday morning at 11:35am EST talking with Lou Blasi and Walter Kuberski on the Fantistics Insider Baseball Show on XM 87. I will be talking about The Masters and my thoughts on Tiger, Phil, Rose, and maybe a couple sleepers to think about for Augusta.
In the meantime, good luck with weekend golf in Houston and get some extra spending money for The Masters next week!
Lots of rain Wednesday night into very early Thursday morning. After that though, no rain forecasted and no winds greater than 10 mph. This course will play a little bit longer on Thursday, due to the wet conditions. Maybe a slight boost to the big driving distance players. But, use that as a deep tiebreaker. Other than that, I don't see any tee time advantages: just be aware that Round One may not be completely finished on Thursday or Round Two completely finished on Friday, if there's a delay to the start of the tournament.
Article Format Change
Fantistics just entered into a sponsorship with DraftKings for DFS. So, starting with The Masters article, I will be using DraftKings pricing in my articles. I will still point out values I like on FanDuel and FantasyDraft though.
Ownership (According to FanShare Sports)
Not many over 20% this week, so here are the projected top owned golfers: Luke List (+20%), Thomas Pieters, Phil Mickelson (+20%), Daniel Berger, Justin Rose, Tony Finau, and Scott Piercy.
I've lowered my exposure to Mickelson and List for this reason. But I'm just going to eat the chalk on List on FanDuel, as he is just below average price. I am using Rose and Finau in normal lineups.
Players I'm playing not written in original article: None
Players I wrote about as Primary or Secondary Play that I am not using: Brandt Snedeker (worried about the last 3 rounds he has played and price), Steve Stricker (just didn't fit my lineups), Tom Lovelady (just found other values I preferred). The order I would play them if I had to: Lovelady, Stricker, Snedeker.
Players I used the most: Russell Henley, Jordan Spieth, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Byeong-Hun An, Corey Conners
It could be a wild week with many golfers having different motivations for playing. I will be starting the Masters Article on Thursday, and should be out by Saturday morning. The weekend article will be done Friday night. Good luck this week.
The last chance to make the Masters for 128 golfers (16 already in) comes this week at Houston, as the Houston Open will award the winner a spot at The Masters. A lower scoring course will add to the fun as we should see lots of birdies and maybe some Sunday drama if someone is in contention, and needing to win to get into the first major of the year.
National Fantasy Pregame Show
https://www.facebook.com/nationalpregame/. Also will be on the MyFantasyFix page on Tuesday night.
Masters Files and Article
Files are already posted for you: a summary of all 4 majors from 2017 and a Masters history from 2010-2017. The article should be posted by Saturday morning this week. Also, I will be appearing on SiriusXM this Saturday, joining Lou Blasi and Walter Kuberski on the Fantistics show.
It will done Friday night this week, probably by 10:00 pm EST. Free for everyone, including non-subscribers.
The Golf Club of Houston is over 7,400 yards but we haven't seen that eliminate shorter hitters from winning. But with lots of water, there is going to be the need for some accuracy, though the rough is short. It's why I went with Ball Striking as a stat, with more emphasis on GIR. A lot of the Par 5s and four of the Par 4s will play long, so looking at players who hit it well from 200+ yards is vital, along with Birdies or Better. Finally, putting has shown itself to be a key stat. Any course that tries to mimic Augusta National as best as possible (not as undulating greens though) means putting needs to be looked at, as I'm sure the speed will be similar. Onto the picks
Justin Rose (12,600)
When you see my article later this week for The Masters, you will see that Rose is my pick to win in Augusta. He has played well there and is in great form as well, with three Top 10s in four North America starts this year. Rose was 15th here in Houston a year ago and was 37th in his only other appearance. He ranks 1st in Birdies or Better, 2nd in Putting, 14th in Proximity from 200+ yards, and 19th in Ball Striking. He's the highest priced player due to his form so while you certainly do not have to spend big money this week, picking Rose is a good start if you decide to go this route. (Cash and GPP)
Phil Mickelson (12,400)
We should all know the narrative by now: Phil likes to play the week before a major. With the way he's been playing, he may join Patton Kizzire, Justin Thomas, and Bubba Watson as multiple time winners this season. He has four straight Top 6 finishes in stroke play events, including a win at WGC-Mexico. He didn't play bad at the Match Play event last week, going 2-1 in his pod, but didn't get out of the group thanks to Charles Howell going 3-0 (more on him later). You see a lot of Top 20s in the tournament history, though he did struggle here last year. Mickelson comes out #1 in my model this week, ranking 2nd in Birdies or Better, 3rd in Putting, 6th in Ball Striking, 7th in Proximity: 200+ yards, and 19th in GIR. If I look at his putting stats on Bentgrass, he is Top 5 in every range from past 24 rounds and fewer. Mickelson is a really nice price at 10,200 on DraftKings, but can be played here as well. Ride the wave with Phil this week and next. (Cash and GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Jordan Spieth (12,100) didn't play bad at the Match Play, going 2-1 but losing in the winner take all match to Patrick Reed to get out of his pod. Had a 2nd and 13th here prior to a missed cut last year. Not great with stats over past 12 rounds: 13th in Ball Striking. But, I have a feeling on him playing well this week, so I will have him in at least one lineup.
- Rafa Cabrera-Bello (11,500): See National Fantasy Pregame Show Video
- Tony Finau (11,300) has missed two of his last four cuts, but still has Two Top 10s this year. Has made two of his three cuts here in Houston. Ranks 5th in GIR, 17th in Ball Striking, and 25th in Birdies or Better
GPP: Spieth, RCB, Finau
Charles Howell III (10,300)
I am not a big fan of many in this range. Howell probably gives you the best value here, as he does have Three Top 10s in his past five starts at the Houston Open, gaining 25.3 strokes. He has made 5 of 6 cuts this season and did win his pod last week at the Match Play event. Howell is a little bit of a statistical anomaly here: 3rd in Ball Striking and 9th in GIR. However, he ranks in the 100s in the other three categories. An Augusta native, Howell has to win to make The Masters, so there is that extra motivation. But, I'm keeping him as a tournament play only. (GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Brandt Snedeker (10,800) is another one who needs to win to get into The Masters. Played well at Valspar before a rough Sunday. Missed cut at the Arnold Palmer and doesn't have a great history. Ranks 22nd in Putting and 24th in Birdies or Better.
- Russell Henley (10,200): See National Fantasy Pregame Show Video
GPP: Henley, Snedeker
Luke List (9,900)
List didn't enjoy Match Play (I think I took him to win the group last week. Oops.) but has been playing great prior to that: 2nd, 7th, and 16th the past three stroke play tournaments. He did finish third here last year, along with a 27th two years ago. He can hit the ball far which could help on a longer course. He has good stats as well: 1st in Ball Striking, 4th in GIR, 6th in Birdies or Better, and 24th in Proximity from 200+ yards. He's a great price here on FanDuel and is potentially heading to being chalky on all of the sites. He fits here, seems to be a great play. However, we've seen these types of golfers miss cuts this year. I will have shares, but don't think fading him in tournaments is a bad move. (Cash and GPP, GPP fade is viable)
Keegan Bradley (9,600)
Bradley is starting to trend upwards, improving on his position in each of the past three tournaments. He has had success at Houston with three Top 10s and a 15th the past six years here, gaining 22.2 strokes here the past five years. As usual with Keegan, his putting is of concern. Other than that, he does rank 4th in Ball Striking, 17th in GIR, and 29th in Proximity from 200+ yards. Never a safe play, Bradley does have some upside and is another one who needs to win to make it to Augusta next week. (GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Steve Stricker (9,600) has won his past two events on the Champions Tour, and also has improving finishes on the PGA Tour (31st, 26th, 12th). Ranks 19th in GIR and 30th in Birdies or Better.
- Byeong-Hun An (9,500): See National Fantasy Pregame Show Video
- Jason Kokrak (9,300) was playing well before his missed cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Prior he had made six straight cuts with three Top 25s. Not a stellar history here, though he does he have a 9th a few years back. Ranks 18th in Ball Striking and 23rd in GIR.
- William McGirt (9,200) doesn't have a great past here but has a 16th, 26th, and 33rd the last three tournaments this year. McGirt ranks well in stats: 6th in Birdies or Better, 21st in Proximity from 200+ yards, and 29th in Ball Striking.
Others You Can Play: Chris Kirk, James Hahn, J.B. Holmes, Lee Westwood
Cash: Stricker, An, McGirt, Hahn
GPP: Everyone I mentioned in this tier
Patrick Rodgers (8,900)
Rodgers is not one I have played a lot this year but his stats and form are standing out to me. Rodgers has made six cuts in a row with four Top 25s in that span. He let some people down last week at Punta Cana with a 22nd, so maybe ownership will be a bit lower due to that. His stats are also good: 3rd in Birdies or Better, 5th in Proximity from 200+ yards, and 11th in Putting. I like his form and am willing to play him for the first time this year. (GPP, Cash Game Playable)
Brandon Harkins (8,300)
I may not have played Rodgers much this year, but I've played Harkins quite a bit, and have done just fine playing this rookie, who has made 10 of 13 cuts. Even his missed cuts are usually only by one or two strokes. He fits statistically, ranking 2nd in Ball Striking, 15th in Proximity from 200+ yards, and is average or slightly above in all other categories. I feel he should be priced a little higher, so I'll gladly take the discount here. (Cash and GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Chesson Hadley (8,800) struggled in Florida, but had been playing well in the Fall Swing and west coast, which does have some lower scoring courses like this one.. Ranks 18th in Birdies or Better and 21st in Ball Striking. Is 2 for 2 in making cuts here.
- Grayson Murray (8,800) is coming off a 14th at the Arnold Palmer. Is 1st in Proximity from 200+ yards and 5th in Birdies or Better. Another player whose weakness is the putter.
- Corey Conners (8,600): See National Fantasy Pregame Show Video
- John Huh (8,400) has made 6 of his last 7 cuts with a Top 10 and three Top 30s. Has Two Top 20s, and two other Top 40s in his last six starts here. Average stats.
Cash: Conners, Huh Playable
GPP: Hadley, Murray, Conners
Players to Consider:
- Sung Kang (7,700) led first three rounds here last year before succumbing to Henley. Has made three of last four cuts, and ranks 4th in Proximity from 200+ yards and 5th in GIR.
- Tom Lovelady (7,600) was 5th in Punta Cana last week and 17th two starts before that. Ranks #1 in GIR and #4 in Birdies or Better. Average in other stat categories.
- Talor Gooch (7,600) has four Top 30s this season, including a 26th at the Arnold Palmer. A little bit streaky, does have good stats: 11th in Birdies or Better, 17th in Proximity from 200+, and 25th in Ball Striking. Struggles with Putter.
All GPP Plays
A rare time where I don't mind some of the low 8k or even 7k players. Should give you some flexibility in lineup construction this week. Wednesday Update will include ownership projections from FanShare Sports. Don't ignore that Wednesday Update as it has some vital information, including some players that at low ownership, you should consider. Good luck with your lineups and feel free to contact me on Twitter (@skeeterrobinson) if you have any questions or suggestions.