What’s goin’ on fantasy golf fans?! The time is almost here! Yes, The Masters is just a week away but we must focus on the Shell Houston Open first, to make sure we can build up enough bankroll before we blow it all away next week!
The Shell Houston Open will take place at the Golf Club of Houston, which is a long Par 72 ranging in just under 7,500 yards. The talk you will hear most of the week is that this track resembles Augusta National in certain ways, and is why many of the top guys play the event the week prior to the “tradition unlike any other.” Resemble might be a bit of a stretch, but the GC of Houston does have bent grass greens, the first time golfers will see bent grass this season. The rough is virtually non-existent here, and there are plenty of shaved run-off areas around the greens, creating similar around the green scenarios as Augusta. But that’s about where the resemblance ends. The GC of Houston has a ton of water, but that doesn’t prevent the winning score from creeping into the high teens under parl. Three of the Par 4s at this course are over 480 yards and will be critical holes when it comes to deciding a winner. The Par 5s are also reachable by most, which will give guys with some length off the tee or who are dynamite with their long irons an edge.
Stats for the Week
SG: Ball Striking – BIGGGG
Birdie or Better Gained
SG: Par 4 450-500
SG: Par 5s
2017 – Russell Henley (-20)
2016 – Jim Herman (-15)
2015 – J.B. Holmes (-16)
2014 – Matt Jones (-15)
2013 – D.A. Points (-16)
Alright, let’s get to the picks!
My favorite golfers for the week – for Cash and GPP contests.
Justin Rose – $11,400
If I am picking between any of the guys at the top, Justin Rose is the first guy on the list. Rose has back-to-back top five finishes and has come inside the top 10 an incredible 11 of his last 13 tournaments. If that doesn’t scream consistency, I don’t know what does. All of this amazing recent form is gearing up for next week, obviously, but another final group this Sunday will not hinder Rose’s Masters preparation. He is firing on all cylinders right now and it would be foolish to fade him.
Tony Finau – $9,000
This is Tony Finau’s week. It is time for Finau to finally break through and win a legit PGA Tour event (sorry Puerto Rico Open). Finau has been playing well this season and has put himself in the mix a few times already. Last week at the matchplay, he took Noren to the final few holes before losing his only match of the week on Friday. He is striking it very well, can make birdies with the best in the field and will have no trouble on these Par 5s. Even though his results at the Shell aren’t impressive, I will take the nice price discount you get with Finau and build a ton of balance-contrarian lineups this week.
Byeong-Hun An – $8,700
Benny An has been lights out lately in terms of key stats. Over his past 24 rounds, An ranks 5th in SG:BS, 8th in Bob Gained, 3rd in Prox. from 175+ and 19th in SG:Par 5. An has made an appearance on a couple of leaderboards lately as well, coming T5 at the Honda and T14 at Bay Hill. His putting will always be a concern but if he can continue to stick approaches, these greens in Houston are some of the easiest on tour from inside 10 feet. Benny An will not be highly owned because of his price tag and is still unknown to a lot of casual fans.
Keegan Bradley – $8,600
Keegan Bradley is basically the exact same golfer as Luke List, but he’s $1,000 cheaper and won’t be nearly as owned. Bradley is a terrible putter, that is a given, but he has gained strokes on these greens multiple times in his career. Keegs leads the field in SG:BS over the past 24 rounds, which will play extremely well at this track. In the past five times he has played here, Bradley has a T5, three top 15s and made four of five cuts. Even though he cannot putt most weeks, his ball striking will keep him in the mix come Sunday.
Jhonattan Vegas – $7,300
Vegas at first glance seems way to cheap for the golfer he is. Jhonny V has been struggling after he started 2018 well. However, his T20 finish in Mexico shows signs he has moved past his funk. He gained strokes in all categories other than putting (expected) and gets to return to an event he has posted solid results at. Vegas hasn’t missed a cut in Houston in four straight years, with back-to-back top 20s. At $7,300, is well worth the any amount of risk he carries this week.
Houston Open Interactive Data
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Identifying the chalk, and going elsewhere.
Henrik Stenson – $10,500
So far on FanShare Sports, Henrik Stenson is on pace to be the lowest owned golfer out of the +$10K range. He is one week removed from being in the last group at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he ended up in solo 4th. Perhaps people are worried about Stenson’s history with withdraws? That’s great news for us pivoters. He did miss the cut here last season, but he also has two runner up finishes in the last five seasons. Not to mention the savings you get with Stenson can do wonders elsewhere on the board.
Daniel Berger – $9,400
Perhaps my favorite pivot play of the week, Daniel Berger’s struggles lately put him in perfect position in Houston. Berger didn’t even halve a match last week in Austin, and hasn’t recorded a top 10 finish since last year’s John Deere. The thing about Berger is that he tends to play very well at a select few events, and the Shell Houston Open is one of them. He has back-to-back T5s and came T25 in 2015. Best part about all of this is that he is priced right below Luke List who will soak up a ton of ownership.
Matt Kuchar – $9,100
Kuch hasn’t been Mr.Reliable lately, failing to record a top 25 in his past four events, with the other three falling outside the top 40. He was heavily owned in Mexico where he came a disappointing T58. With that said, he is still a cut making machine and will be lower owned than usual in a field of this strength. His price seems a little cheap given the caliber of player he is. His 2nd place finish at the Shell in 2014 shows he has the came to contend in Houston.
Shubhankar Sharma – $8,400
People will be hesitant to play the unknown quantity that his Shubhankar Sharma. At $8,400, he isn’t cheap and is a hell of a lot pricier than he was in Mexico. He didn’t fare too well last week at the matchplay, but chalk that one up to inexperience. Sharma tore it up in Mexico, gaining strokes across the board. His price tag is a lot, but if he turns in another performance like he did two weeks ago, he will be on GPP winning lineups.
Bad course fit? Highly owned for the wrong reason? Players I will have no shares of.
Rickie Fowler – $11,500
Seeing Rickie at the top of the board doesn’t feel right, especially not with Spieth in the field. Rickie does have great course history, but he has never won here. At $11,500, top 10 to top 15 finish won’t cut it. He will always be a popular player in terms of ownership, and generally the highest priced golfer gets a little bump just because. I will much rather spend the $100 less for the lower owned Rose who likely has a greater win probability.
Luke List – $9,600
Welcome to Luke List chalk week. The $9,600 List is already creating a buzz early on in the week, leading the field in tags on FanShareSports.com. And I completely get it. His results have been impressive as of late and the stats are there to back it up. List also finished in a tie for third here last year, adding to the already high pile of praise he is receiving. But don’t forget, List is one of the worst putters in the field. Usually we are okay with the Lists and Glovers of the world who can survive just by hitting it close. But at a chalk $9,600, if the putter doesn’t show up like history suggests, that is the best type of chalk to fade.
Thomas Pieters – $7,500
There is something off with Pieters right now that people will ignore because of his name value. Typically one of the better birdie makers any given week, Pieters ranks 73rd in this field over the past 24 rounds in BoB Gained and has been playing very poorly on Par 5s, which is shocking for someone with his distance. He has only recorded one top 10 finish since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in early August. Add on the fact that he has never played the Shell before and is probably looking ahead to next week – this is all adding up for an early trip to Augusta.
So, you got burned?
Recently got screwed by a missed cut or a poor performance? Looks like a good time to jump back on.
Jordan Spieth – $11,100
Spieth has disappointed in his last two events, missing the cut at the Valspar and not making it out of the group stage of the WGC Matchplay. People will be hesitant to play Spieth, despite being the third highest priced player, because of his poor recent form and with Augusta looming right around the corner. There is no doubt Spieth needs a huge week to gain momentum for the next week to throw his name in the ring as the betting favorites alongside Tiger and Rory. This is the last week he has to make a splash, and no one would be shocked if in two weeks time, Spieth has won back-to-back events.
Jason Dufner – $8,300
Dufner keeps popping up in the news because of his ridiculous hats, but lately he has rarely been found on the leaderboard. He too missed the cut at the Valspar, an event that fit him perfectly, and couldn’t make it out of the group stage last week. Duf daddy is still looking for his first top 10 of the season and his T12 from last year suggests it is possible. His irons need to heat up a bit, but that is an area of his game he has never struggled with for long.
Scott Piercy – $7,500
Scott Piercy has been a stats darling for the last couple of weeks, but his results have been lackluster. After a strong Honda Classic, Piercy missed the cut at Bay Hill and came T60th last week in Punta Cana, which was pretty much a Web.com event. Now that the bandwagon has emptied a bit, Piercy is in a great bounce back spot. He has finished 10th and T19 in his last two starts in Houston and ranks 4th in SG:Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds in this field.
Thanks for reading the Shell Houston Open preview article! Follow me on Twitter @EPatGolf for more DFS and golf betting talk! Also, don’t forget to check out FanShareSports.com to get a full look at who the DFS golf community is talking about this week!
Good luck this week everybody!