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Handicapping

Shell Houston Open Predictions

Shell Houston Open Preview and Picks to Win
Dates: March 30-April 2, 2017
Course: GC of Houston Ė Humble, TX
Television: The Golf Channel/NBC
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com

It really is that time of year when golf starts to take a much bigger stage than at most points during the year. We are just one week away from The Masters and we just got to see a fantastic finish to the Match Play. It seems that the PGA is doing just fine without Tiger, as long as guys like Dustin Johnson keep winning, anyway. The Shell Houston Open takes place this week and the last tune-up before The Masters draws a big field as the GC of Houston tries very hard to make the course play as close to Augusta as possible. A good chunk of the Top-25 in the world is here, including favorites like Jordan Spieth and the suddenly red-hot Jon Rahm. Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott are also teeing it up with high expectations. Dustin Johnson pulled out from this week after his Match Play win and that is probably a good decision as he put in a ton of effort during a long week. Jason Day is also absent as he continues to spend time with his family after his mother received a recent cancer diagnosis. His schedule is very much in the air but I do hope we get to see him soon under positive circumstances.

The GC at Houston has found a niche as the lead-in to the yearís first Major and the willingness by the management to modify the course to approximate Augusta has helped the Houston Open flourish in a spot on the schedule that many other tournaments struggle with. The 7,441 yard, par-72 layout is most like Augusta on and around the greens where the speeds will be upwards of 13 on the Stimpmeter and players will be faced with challenging up and down opportunities after missed approaches. The course winds its way through the natural features of its Texas locale much like what we will see next week as well. Fast greens donít necessarily lead to high scores and players that figure out the pace and lines will make putts and the overall scoring pace for this event is moderate to high. The course record of 62 has been shot on multiple occasions, including during the 2015 event. This course will frustrate those who fail to get going with the irons as wayward approaches typically result in bogeys.

Each week, we take a look at the offerings at Bovada Sportsbook and give you our thoughts on the best bets. We make some picks to win and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that are most commonly featured on the golf betting sites. Here are our picks to win the 2017 Shell Houston Open.

Daniel Berger (35 to 1 odds to win)
Berger is an up-and-comer that has risen to 40th†in the OWGR and seems to play his best on the bigger stage. He has T2 and T16 finishes in the last two stroke-play WGC events and has made the cut here in each of his two career starts, finishing T5 last season. He is a pretty average ball striker by Tour standards but a near top-notch putter, entering the week 18th†in strokes gained on the green and he has the clutch gene as evidenced by his top-10 scrambling mark. He converts his chances well with the 9th†best one-putt rate and is also 9th†in birdie conversions on greens hit. If he is getting his approaches in the right area on the greens, he should be making those putts and getting himself in contention.

Charles Howell III (45 to 1)
Chucky has been a frequent flier on Tour with 13 starts under his belt already. He is still looking for a win but has been able to cash twelve checks in that span and owns eight top-25 finishes. He should be in line for another strong finish at a course that apparently suits him well. Howell has been in the top-10 on three occasions in the last four years, including a T7 in 2016. Charles isnít a face-paced birdie machine but he does so many things well that he grinds out the 20th†ranked scoring average. He is 15th†in scrambling and 13th†in three-putt avoidance so you wonít see him shoot himself in the foot too often. He doesnít stand out with the driver or the irons but the total package still has him about a stroke per round better than the PGA average and that will allow him to win if he just has a hot week.

Charley Hoffman (50 to 1)
Hoffman has seen a high bust rate in 2017 with just five made cuts in eleven starts but he also has multiple top-5 finishes in those events where he does see the weekend. He ran T4 at Riviera and nearly won the Palmer Invitational so he can hang with the deep fields and he has not missed a cut here since 2011. His birdie average is solid at just over four per round and while he isnít Bubba Watson with the driver, he is measured at 27th†in driving distance when you count all tee shots. His real achilles heel has been in saving strokes this season and he enters the week outside the top-200 in scrambling. That explains a lot regarding the six missed cuts so far but if he has a better week finding the greens or simply saving those pars, the ceiling can be a longshot win.

Head-to-Head Matches
Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with 5Dimes Sportsbook for single round matches and a variety of group, finish and prop bets.

Patrick Reed v. Matt Kuchar (pick to win: Kuchar)
I really liked Kuchar last week at the Match Play and he didnít quite come through but he didnít play poorly either so, in essence, he got himself a couple extra days off from the grind without the bad feelings that come from a missed cut. I think it is pretty clear that Reedís career trajectory is on the way up and likely to stay permanently ahead of Mattís given the age difference but Kuchar is the more consistent player right now. Reed is outside the top-100 in some very key categories like fairways and greens hit and trails Kuchar by about 100 spots in scoring average. It is just too hard to advocate for Reed right now given his spotty play. Matt is top-10 in scrambling and looks like the better fit for GC at Houston. Reed may right the ship any day now but it is time to bet against him until proven otherwise.

Rickie Fowler v. Justin Rose (pick to win: Fowler)
You can be very successful at golf betting without a true strategy to a large degree but you better have a little more than a gut feeling when you are parsing out these heavy-hitter pairings. Both players can hit the ball a ton but Fowler is quite a bit ahead in hitting the fairway, at least in 2017 play. Fowler also enjoys significant advantages in greens hit and GIR putting so it is no surprise to see him also ahead in scoring. The real factor for me this week is the scrambling and Rickie is leading the Tour in that stat at this moment. Rose is good almost always and legitimately great when he is on but Rickie is proving that he is in fact the stud talent that so many conjectured he would be. He has the head factor and the stats to back it up so ride him in head-to-heads this week. Bet your Houston Open predictions for FREE by taking advantage of a GIANT 50% bonus at MyBookie.

Shell Houston Open Betting Odds to Win

Jordan Spieth 13/2
Jon Rahm 9/1
Henrik Stenson 13/1
Rickie Fowler 15/1
Justin Rose 20/1
Phil Mickelson 20/1
Adam Scott 25/1
J.B. Holmes 33/1
Russell Henley 35/1
Billy Horschel 40/1
Daniel Berger 40/1
Matt Kuchar 40/1
Patrick Reed 40/1
Tony Finau 45/1
Charles Howell III 50/1
Charley Hoffman 50/1
Jimmy Walker 50/1
Patrick Cantlay 55/1
Rafa Cabrera Bello 55/1
Bryson Dechambeau 60/1
Jason Dufner 60/1
Bernd Wiesberger 65/1
Jhonattan Vegas 65/1
Keegan Bradley 70/1
Lee Westwood 70/1
Lucas Glover 75/1
Nick Watney 80/1
Peter Uihlein 80/1
Jim Herman 85/1
Hudson Swafford 90/1
Jamie Lovemark 90/1
Ollie Schniederjans 90/1
Ryan Palmer 90/1
J.J. Spaun 100/1
Kevin Chappell 100/1
Kyle Stanley 100/1
Luke Donald 100/1
Luke List 100/1
Brian Harman 120/1
J.T. Poston 120/1
Jason Kokrak 120/1
Andrew Johnston 125/1
Andy Sullivan 125/1
Cameron Smith 125/1
Cameron Tringale 125/1
Harold Varner III 125/1
Sean O'Hair 125/1
Stewart Cink 125/1
Danny Lee 140/1
Harris English 140/1
Matt Jones 140/1
Bud Cauley 150/1
Chris Wood 150/1
D.A. Points 150/1
Scott Brown 150/1
John Huh 160/1
Chez Reavie 175/1
Chris Stroud 175/1
David Hearn 175/1
David Lingmerth 175/1
Kevin Streelman 175/1
James Hahn 200/1
John Peterson 200/1
Kyle Reifers 200/1
Michael Kim 200/1
Michael Thompson 200/1
Retief Goosen 200/1
Beau Hossler 225/1
Ben Martin 225/1
Chad Campbell 225/1
Johnson Wagner 225/1
Martin Flores 225/1
Robert Garrigus 225/1
Roberto Castro 225/1
Vaughn Taylor 225/1
Whee Kim 225/1
C.T. Pan 250/1
Cody Gribble 250/1
J.J. Henry 250/1
Jonas Blixt 250/1
Morgan Hoffmann 250/1
Robert Streb 250/1
Seung-Yul Noh 250/1
Si Woo Kim 250/1
Alex Cejka 275/1
Sam Saunders 275/1
Shawn Stefani 275/1
Aaron Baddeley 300/1
Bill Lunde 300/1
Blayne Barber 300/1
Boo Weekley 300/1
Bryce Molder 300/1
Geoff Ogilvy 300/1
Grayson Murray 300/1
Greg Chalmers 300/1
Hunter Mahan 300/1
John Senden 300/1
Mackenzie Hughes 300/1
Nick Taylor 300/1
Rafael Campos 300/1
Smylie Kaufman 300/1
Sung Kang 300/1
Troy Merritt 300/1
Tyrone Van Aswegen 300/1
Ben Crane 350/1
Fabian Gomez 350/1
K.J. Choi 350/1
Mark Anderson 350/1
Patton Kizzire 350/1
Ryo Ishikawa 350/1
Zac Blair 350/1
Chad Collins 400/1
Davis Love III 400/1
Derek Fathauer 400/1
Freddie Jacobson 400/1
Jason Bohn 400/1
Jon Curran 400/1
Kelly Kraft 400/1
Steve Marino 400/1
Brett Stegmaier 450/1
Angel Cabrera 500/1
Ernie Els 500/1
Ricky Barnes 500/1
Robert Allenby 500/1
Tom Hoge 500/1
Bob Estes 600/1
Carl Pettersson 600/1
Ken Duke 600/1
Peter Malnati 600/1
Spencer Levin 600/1
Andrew Loupe 750/1
Brendon de Jonge 750/1
Charlie Beljan 750/1
Mark Hubbard 750/1
Matt Every 750/1
Stuart Appleby 750/1
Ben Willman 900/1
Rich Berberian Jr. 900/1
Steven Bowditch 900/1

Good luck and good golf!

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