Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: Houston Open
For the first time in 18 months and possibly the last time ever, the PGA Tour heads to the Golf Club of Houston for the Houston Open. Previously the lead-in event to the Masters, the Houston Open tailored the course to prepare the world's best to tune up for Augusta National by trimming the rough down and overseeding the bermuda greens. No such measures are necessary or planned this week, as the Tour will see the true character of GC of Houston before the event transitions to a new venue in 2020.
With the move to the swing season, and without the bid to Augusta or the comparable course conditions, the field is devoid of world class talent. Henrik Stenson is the highest-ranked player by Official World Golf Ranking teeing it up this week, and he sits at No. 34 in the current ranking. Some unusual names will be at the top of the pricing across the daily fantasy industry, and well-researched players will have a major advantage this week.
The forecast looks mostly OK this week, with cool morning temps giving way to Texas heat and winds in the afternoon. Golfers teeing it up early will have an advantage, especially if there is any precipitation, as the course will firm up and dry out quickly in the afternoon.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: Golf Club of Houston
Distance: 7,441 yards
Fairways/Rough: Fairways are bentgrass and ryegrass, rough is bermudagrass and ryegrass
|Season||Par||Yardage||Avg Score||Avg O/U Par||Rank|
GC of Houston was never particularly challenging, but any course with Texas winds and fast greens -- Fantasy National Golf Club elevates these surfaces to "Lightning" -- is going to defend well when it's blowing. Only Russell Henley in 2017 has cracked 20-under par, and he did so with one of the more dominant putting performances in recent memory, gaining 12.5 strokes on the field (notably he surpassed by Kevin Na this past week at the Shriners, as Justin Ray noted).
For a par 72, the course has held up fairly well in the past. The great unknown, of course, is how a season removed from PGA Tour action has softened this course, especially with it falling off the schedule entirely next season. The club members will no doubt be pleased to leave the Augusta pandering in the rearview and host a more traditional layout, and even with the rough grown out, we can expect a bit more forgiveness around and on the greens.
Comparable courses are tough to pin down this week, given that the setup, field, and spot on the schedule are all in flux. It is hard to shake Augusta given the history, but it is worth fanning out a bit more before committing fully.
TPC San Antonio - AT&T Oakes obviously shares the Texas connection, but bermuda greens and length in the 7,400s make it stand out all the more. Those greens are much smaller and harder to hit, however.
The Houston Open has the 8th-highest greens in regulation (GIR) percentage on Tour in 2018, whereas the Valero Texas Open had the 9th-lowest percentage in 2018 and the 13th-lowest last year. Country Club of Jackson and Keene Trace Golf Club are par 72 bermuda courses that have historically hosted alternate field events, and we can expect a similar vibe this week. The Barbasol Championship is a bit more like target practice than we've traditionally seen at the Houston Open, but the Sanderson has been stingy with eagles much like Houston.
These stats will be key to success in the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston.
|Key Stats for the Houston Open|
|Strokes Gained: Ballstriking|
|Birdies or Better Gained|
|Strokes Gained: Par 5s|
|Greens in Regulation Gained|
|Proximity Gained (200+ yards)|
Both off the tee and approach will be important this week, with golfers needing to find themselves at the right yardages and, more than ever at GC of Houston, in the fairway. Even without major rough to contend with, golfers still largely chose to club down off the tee here, although the lack of any bombers in the recent fields could also be a factor in the average driving distance.
With strokes gained: approach accounted for in the ball-striking stat, we can supplement with greens in regulation as well. And with the field hitting about 73% of greens in prior editions, finding golfers capable of eclipsing that mark should be a focus this week. Since many of the second shots (and the first on two of the par 3s) will be over 200 yards, isolating proximity from that range will also be important.
Birdies or better and par 5s go hand in hand this week -- we need birdies, but those elusive eagles will be even more valuable given that they have been much harder to come by at GC of Houston than the average event. In the last four seasons the Houston Open has been on the schedule, it has been inside the top-five courses in fewest eagles on par 72 courses.
Course History Studs
Henley is the name here with a win in 2017 -- one of five straight top-eight finishes.
Daniel Berger is not quite up to the Henley form, but he's no slouch with four straight finishes of T27 or better, including two fifth place finishes in 2016 and 2017.
Luke List showed he is not in fact a corpse last week at the Shriners, and he's been one of the best tee to green players the last two trips to Houston, finishing T24 and T3.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.