This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Golf Club of Houston (7,441 yards, par 72)
Purse: $7.5 million
Winner: $1,350,000 and 500 FedExCup points
The Houston Open has traditionally been held in early April before the Masters, but it was a casualty of the condensed schedule that debuted last season. Fortunately, the Houston Astros Foundation stepped up to sponsor the tournament for the next five years, keeping it on the schedule and giving it a new date in the fall. This will be the last year the Golf Club of Houston hosts this event, as in 2020 the Houston Open will move to Memorial Park Golf Course after it finishes a $13.5 million renovation. The field is headlined by Henrik Stenson who has a impressive record in Houston that includes three top-three finishes. Keegan Bradley is the only other player inside the top 50 in the OWGR that is in the field this week. Early-season winners Sebastian Munoz and Cameron Champ will be teeing it up in Houston looking to pile up more FedExCup points. Temperatures will vary by over 30 degrees throughout the tournament and a thunderstorm delay can't be ruled out this time of year. Winds should average between 10-15 mph for the week.
Key Stats to Victory
The rough was always a non-factor in Houston when it was held in early spring. This time of the year, however, the rough will be much lusher, which will put more of an emphasis on keeping it in the short grass. That being said, bombers still have to be valued at the Golf Club of Houston, as they mow from green to tee, which limits rollout on tee shots. There is also a beefy set of par-5's, and only the longest hitters will be able to reach all four of them. The large bermuda greens this week are well segmented, which makes quality iron play critical. Scrambling is usually pretty simple around this track, as well. GIR percentage takes a back seat this week to SG: Approach and proximity. The greens roll so smooth that piling up scoring chances will be the biggest factor in contending this week.
FanDuel Value Picks
Henrik Stenson ($11,900)
Your best pick this week doesn't have to be a hard one. Stenson is a ball-striking machine who doesn't even need the putter to be working for him to get into contention. The Swede hasn't finished worse than T27 in any of his last seven starts worldwide. He loves this course, as evidenced by four top-6 finishes, including a pair of runner-ups. Stenson is $800 more expensive than any other player in the field for a reason.
Cameron Champ ($11,100)
The Golf Club of Houston is a track for bombers. While the rough will be more of a factor at this time of the year, it doesn't change the advantage that a player like Champ will have. He will be able to comfortably reach all the par-5s and the short par-4 12th hole, presenting him five easy birdie opportunities. Champ ranks first in SG: Off-the-tee and ninth in SG: Tee-to-green this season.
Daniel Berger ($11,000)
Berger went T23-T18 the last two weeks and heads into Houston, where he has always found success. In his last four starts on this course, Berger went T25-T5-5-T18. A big part of that is his affinity for bermuda grass, which the Florida native is accustomed to. Berger is sixth this season in birdie average and second in putting average.
Russell Henley ($10,500)
The 2017 champion also has four other top-10s in his career at the Houston Open. His scoring average here is just a tick above 69. Henley has been a streaky player throughout much of his career, but he made the weekend in each of his last seven starts on Tour. Henley has improved his iron play this season, ranking 34th in SG: Approach and 26th in GIR percentage thus far. The Georgia product loves these greens, and that is enough for me to disregard his early-season putting woes.
Longer Shots with Value
Kevin Chappell ($9,300)
Chappell missed all of last season after undergoing back surgery. It was a real shame because the 33-year-old was playing the best golf of his career prior to that. Chappell's finishes this season (T47-T40) aren't eye popping, but he has already made headlines by shooting a 59 in the second round at The Greenbrier. At his best, Chappell is an excellent ball striker who has the length to challenge this course. He finished T6 here back in 2013.
Richy Werenski ($9,000)
Werenski is off to an excellent start to the season, going T3 at The Greenbrier and T18 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He will be fresh after having taking the last two weeks off. Werenski ranks sixth thus far in SG: Putting, and he should keep rolling on the greens thanks to the perfect surfaces. He is also sixth in SG: Total. There is solid value here at only $9,000.
Stewart Cink ($8,300)
The 46-year-old plays much more sparingly these days, but in his last five starts on the PGA Tour he made the cut in four of them. Cink has also made five straight cuts in Houston, including a T6 back in 2013. So far this season, Cink ranks 32nd in SG: Approach and fifth in SG: Putting, two stats which have a strong correlation to success at this course.
Zack Sucher ($7,800)
Like Werenski, Sucher is also off to a good start this season. He posted a T24 at The Greenbrier and followed that up with a T18 at the Sanderson Farms event. Sucher has pretty solid length, which is why he is currently 17th this season in SG: Off-the-tee. He is also 11th in SG: Tee-to-green and 22nd in scoring average. You aren't finding anyone else down this far that has been as solid this season as Sucher.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on a 60k standard salary cap)
It's difficult to properly weight course success and early-season success this week. Two reasons for that: 1) the field is much weaker than it was in it's normal pre-Masters date; and 2) the course should play a little differently than it does in early April. That's why I think Stenson and Berger are musts this week, as both have a great track record in Houston and have had a couple good finishes recently. Other strong options not included above would be Texan Scottie Scheffler, who has been playing great the last two months. Also Brian Harman, Denny McCarthy, and Lanto Griffin, who in 10 combined starts this season have a worst finish of T31. As for some players that have had success at the Golf Club of Houston, Beau Hossler, Sam Ryder, Luke List, and Cameron Tringale are all other guys I like this week who have posted top-5s here within the last four editions of the tournament.