With just one week to go until the first major of the golf season, all of those with an invite to Augusta National are putting the work in to make sure their game is in tip top shape for the Masters. For some, that means competing at the Shell Houston Open which begins on Thursday at the Golf Course of Houston.
Last year’s renewal saw Jim Herman win his first PGA Tour title. The victory also gave him the final berth at the Masters which is the prize on offer for all of those in the field this week who are yet to get that most special of invitations. But what sort of challenges will they have to master to get to the Masters?
As the unofficial warm up event for the Masters, the Houston Open organisers make no secret about the fact that they set the course up to mimic many of the challenges of Augusta. Primarily that means wide fairways with little rough and very fast putting surfaces. The par 72 course is pretty long at 7,441 yards but neither distance nor accuracy are vital off the tee. The Golf Course of Houston is pretty much a second shot course where hitting greens in regulation is key.
Rickie the Short Odds Player to Favour
The Shell Houston Open is a well-regarded tournament amongst the PGA Tour players but there’s no question that the big boys all have an eye on next week. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that there have been some long odds winners in recent years.
It makes perfect sense to take a bit of a punt on some long odds shots but of the shorter odds shots in the field, Rickie Fowler looks like the man worth backing. The American is in good form having picked up a big win at the Honda Classic and he decided to skip the WGC Match Play last week so will be nice and fresh. He’s had a couple of top 10 finishes at this event and can prove his class once more at odds of 20/1 with Betfred.
Horschel Can Fire Again in Houston
Billy Horschel has never really hit the heights since winning the FedEx Cup in 2014. This season has been a mixed bag from the man from Florida but there have been some encouraging signs of late. His game is looking very good from tee to green but he’ll need his best stuff on the greens to challenge this week.
Without a spot at the Masters, Horschel has plenty to play for and he looks a good each way shot at odds of 50/1 with Ladbrokes.
Tringale’s Course Form to Stand Up to Scrutiny
Having been on the edge of the world’s top 50, Cameron Tringale’s slide down the rankings has been alarming. He turned pro with a bit of a fanfare after a good college career but his only PGA Tour win so far came in the Franklin Templeton Shootout alongside Jason Day.
Tringale’s confidence is a little shaky but he’s got a very good record at the Golf Course of Houston which his odds of 125/1 with Bet365 don’t reflect.