This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Cadence Bank Houston Open
Course: Memorial Park Golf Course (7,412 yards, par 70)
Winner: $1,512,000 and 500 FedExCup points
The Houston Open dates back to 1946 when Byron Nelson defeated Ben Hogan at River Oaks Country Club. Since then the event has been moved to a number of different courses. The longest running host venues were TPC at The Woodlands from 1984 through 2002 and the Golf Club of Houston from 2003 through 2019. The last two years, and for the foreseeable future, the Houston Open has been held at Memorial Park Golf Course, which hosted the event in 1947 and from 1951 to 1963. Memorial Park is a municipal course that received $34 million from the Astros Foundation to renovate and redesign the golf course and facilities with input from Brooks Koepka. It has developed into one of the more challenging courses on Tour and will force players to bring out their A-game in order to challenge for the title come Sunday afternoon.
Ironically three of the last four winners of the Houston Open have moved onto LIV Golf. Thus, Jason Kokrak will not be back to defend his title. Texas-native Scottie Scheffler will headline the field in Houston after finishing runner-up last year here. Scheffler will have a chance to retake World No. 1 from Rory McIlroy with a what would be his fifth victory of 2022. Hideki Matsuyama will also be in the field this week and this fellow Masters champion also scored a runner-up finish at Memorial Park back in 2020. Sam Burns and Tony Finau make it four players from the Top-20 in the OWGR that will tee it up in Houston. Last week's winner Russell Henley will also be in the field. His last win before Mayakoba was the 2017 Houston Open.
As can happen at this time of year, we are set to see a major weather switch during the 2022 playing of the Houston Open. Early week temperatures will reach highs in the mid-80s, but over the weekend temperatures are not expected to hit 60 degrees. The most difficult conditions should come on Saturday when there is a potential for rain and the most significant wind should arise. The player that is best able to adapt to the distance differences in massive temperature changes will have a great chance to walk away with the trophy and 500 valuable FedExCup points this week. Next week's RSM Classic at Sea Island will be the final official PGA Tour event of the fall.
2021 - Jason Kokrak (-10)
2020 - Carlos Ortiz (-13)
2019 - Lanto Griffin (-14)
2018 - Ian Poulter (-19)
2017 - Russell Henley (-20)
2016 - Jim Herman (-15)
2015 - J.B. Holmes (-16)
2014 - Matt Jones (-15)
2013 - D.A. Points (-16)
2012 - Hunter Mahan (-16)
Key Stats to Victory
- GIR Percentage
- SG: Approach
- SG: Putting
Memorial Park is a par-70 that can stretch to over 7,400 yards and features five par-3s and three par-5s. This will be a tough test for the field of 132 this week. Distance could be an advantage at Memorial Park, especially when it gets cold over the weekend. The bermuda rough will be cut at 2.5 inches this year, and with less hazards to worry about than say Mayakoba last week, it will allow some of the longer players to be aggressive. Iron play I still believe will remain king this week. The greens are not the largest targets on Tour and we will see a lot of pins cut very close to some severe runoff areas. Missing your target by just a few feet could result in a massively difficult next shot.
The other side of that thinking is that players will elite short games will be very excited to take a crack at Memorial Park this week because the closely mown runoff areas will present players with many options and allow them to pick up strokes around the greens. For whatever reason, the bermuda greens here have been exceptionally difficult to convert on. The putting surfaces will be prepped to run at 12 on the Stimpmeter, but that may change depending on any potential weather. This won't be one of those weeks where you can get away with struggling in a certain area of the game and compete. Everything will be tested at Memorial Park, which really hasn't been the case at any of these courses during the fall portion of the schedule.
FanDuel Value Picks
Scottie Scheffler ($12,000)
The big story the past few months with Scheffler is how much he has struggled on the greens. Because of that he tried out a mallet-style putter, but over the weekend at Mayakoba he switched back to his trusty Scotty Cameron. Scheffler fired a 62 in the final round to grab a share of third place. He was T4 in terms of greens hit in regulation at Mayakoba and is a great driver of the ball. Scheffler finished runner-up here last season and it feels like he's trending toward making a statement as 2022 comes to a close.
Sam Burns ($11,800)
Burns is a great putter in general, but he is deadly when you put him on bermuda surfaces. He has the distance you want for a course with this big of number of the scorecard and his short game never gets as much credit as it is due. Burns is coming off a T7 finish at the CJ Cup and finished T7 in both of the last two Houston Opens at Memorial Park.
Aaron Wise ($11,500)
Wise has gone solo sixth at the CJ Cup and T15 at Mayakoba in his last two starts. Wise is now heading to a place that should suit his game perfectly. Last season he ranked top-35 on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green, GIR percentage, proximity to the hole, and scrambling. It's not surprise that he has finished T11 and T26 in two starts at Memorial Park.
Joel Dahmen ($10,500)
Dahmen just continues to play well. Last week he posted a T3 showing in Mayakoba that included an eagle and 23 birdies for the tournament. That was his third top-16 finish in his last four starts. Dahmen now ranks top-15 this season in SG: Tee-to-Green, proximity to the hole, and scrambling. He shot a final-round 65 last year at Memorial Park to finish in a share of fifth place.
Longer Shots with Value
Mackenzie Hughes ($9,800)
Hughes has been top-25 in all three of his starts this season including his victory in Jackson. The Canadian has the ability to get hot with the putter and has seen clear improvements with his iron play. Hughes' short game remains pretty strong and he is going to a course where he has gone T7 and T29 in two years.
Adam Schenk ($9,500)
Schenk is starting to play some really strong golf. Throw out an odd third-round 76 in Bermuda, Schenk has posted a 67.1 scoring average over his last three tournaments. He has seen a turnaround with his iron play and found some extra distance as well. Schenk scored a T29 finish last year at Memorial Park that included a second-round 64.
Will Gordon ($9,300)
It's not easy to come right off the KFT and put together solid results on the PGA Tour. Gordon has been able to do with top-45 finishes in all five of his starts this season and shined with a T3 last week at Mayakoba. Gordon has the ideal length for a test like Memorial Park. He is also 34th in GIR percentage and 29th in birdie average.
Justin Lower ($9,000)
Lower's 72 in the final round at Mayakoba snapped a streak of 10 straight rounds in the 60s. The 33-year-old's salary goes down by $500 this week in a weaker field, making this an obvious number to try to exploit. Lower is gaining strokes across the board this season and ranks eighth in birdie average. You can't find a more well-rounded player in this range at the moment.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
This field feels more top-heavy than last week's field in Mayakoba. Players in the $11K range I'd have pause on would be Hideki Matsuyama ($11,400) because we haven't seen much of anything over the last few months and Russell Henley ($11,300) because it's incredibly hard to come off a performance like he had last week and carry it into the next event. If you need a few sleepers to throw a dart at this week try Johannes Veerman ($8,200), David Lingmerth ($8,100) or Stephan Jaeger ($8,100).