Shell Houston Open Preview and Picks to Win
Date: April 1st April 4th, 2010
Location: Redstone Golf Club (Tournament Course) Humble, TX
TV: The Golf Channel/NBC
by Evergreen of Predictem.com
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Only one event remains until the Masters and the return of Tiger Woods leaving this weeks Shell Houston Open as the last tune-up for players looking to sharpen their games for the years first Major. The Tournament Course at the Redstone Golf Club plays host to the event for the fifth time and defending champion, Paul Casey, is among those in attendance. Ernie Els is also in the field, looking to earn his third victory of 2010 against a very strong field that includes most of the top European players.
Redstone isnt exactly a Major-style course, but is no pushover either, ranking 22nd in difficulty of the 51 courses used in 2009 play. The par-72 track will measure 7,457 yards for the championship and while the players will have to deal with the standard hazards of sand, water and quick greens, the winds of Texas will be a factor this week as well. The contenders will undoubtedly take advantage of the par-5s this week as those holes are four of the easiest on the course and present the best birdie opportunities. The par-4, 18th will have a say in the end as the 488 yard finisher is the toughest hole on the course. Last years winning total of 11-under was the highest winning score since the event moved to the Tournament Course at Redstone with the average winning score in four events standing at almost 16-under par. Length will help this week should the course be played from the tips, but controlling the ball both off the tee and into the greens will play out more than sheer length.
Each week, we take a look at the online golf sportsbooks and highlight the players that we like to make a run on Sunday. Well give you a short, middle and long odds golfer to win and breakdown a few head to head matches as well. Here are our picks for the 2010 Shell Houston Open.
Short Favorite: Paul Casey (12 to 1 odds to win)
Casey is either first or second on most boards depending on where you bet but actually brings pretty good value in the 12 to 1 range given he has four top-10 finishes in four starts this year. The defending SHO champion has a nice mix in his overall game, currently ranking 24th in driving distance, 10th in greens hit and 3rd in putting average. All that adds up to the 9th best birdie average and 12th best scoring average this year and the rest of the stat sheet has Paul ranked 5th in the all around stat. Casey also makes quick work of the par-5s with a 16th best birdie or better mark and is 1st on Tour in holes per eagle with five eagles recorded already in just the winter season.
Middle of the Road: Anthony Kim (25 to 1 odds to win)
The youngster isnt all the way back to the form he had when he won multiple times in the 2008 season but 2010 has seen five cuts made in five starts and a solo second at the Honda a few weeks back. Kim has a reasonable track record here with a T26 last year and a T5 in 2007. Nothing is jumping off the stat sheet in the early season, but a very balanced game at this point has Anthony ranked in the top-60 in driving distance, GIR%, and putting average. Thats been good enough for the 5th best scoring average and an even four birdies per round. Kim is doing well in the early rounds with the second best scoring average before the weekend, but has faltered on Saturday with a scoring average north of 72. A turnaround there and a visit to the winners circle could be in store this week.
Longshot: Kevin Streelman (40 to 1 odds to win)
For those of who get annoyed at the PGA superstars who cant seem to play more than two weeks in a rowmeet Mr. Streelman. Kevin has played eight times already in 2010 with six cuts made and three top-10 finishes. He gave away a win in Puerto Rico with a shaky finishing round but bounced back with a T7 at Bay Hill and has a little success here with a T8 in 2008. Streelman is 15th in total driving and follows that up with a solid 52nd in greens hit for a top-25 ballstriking stat. Kevin is currently second in birdies per round and has carded the third most birds overall this season and that should continually produce quality finishes.
Justin Leonard (-115) v. Ben Crane (-115) (Crane)
The savvy golf bettors out there know that the Texas boys are good bets when the event is in the Lonestar state, but you just cant back Leonard this week. Justin is outside the top-100 in greens, putting average and ballstriking and his birdie average is 160th. There is some hope as he is hitting fairways at a high rate and his 57th rank in scoring average is far better than what you would expect given the rest of the stat sheet, but its too hard to tab him here against a 2010 Tour winner in Crane.
Bubba Watson (-115) v. Adam Scott (-115) (Watson)
Watson took one on the chin in missing the cut last week, but he is a good bet this week in most head to heads. Along with one of the longest driving averages out there, Bubba ranks 18th in greens hit, 17th in ballstriking and owns the 16th best scoring average. Scott has a feather in his cap at Redstone as the owner of the single round course record but his 150th rank in birdies per round and 120th best scoring average put him a full notch below Watson in this matchup.