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Memorial Park GC hosts for the third year running
World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler leads the betting
Is it third time lucky for Sam Burns?
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Sam Burns is the outright pick at +1400 with BetMGM
Mackenzie Hughes top 10 at +600 with Bet365
Denny McCarthy to beat Jason Day at +105 with DraftKings Sportsbook
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The Houston Open has been a regular stop on the PGA Tour ever since the end of the Second World War.
Byron Nelson won the first edition and many big names have followed him onto the honors board since then including Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Ray Floyd, Curtis Strange, Vijay Singh, and Phil Mickelson.
It’s never quite been in the top grade of tournaments and since moving to the Fall that has been even more apparent.
But two years ago it moved to a new venue and it has proved a very fine examination.
The Memorial Park Municipal Golf Course is John Bredemus's layout but, ahead of hosting this event, Tom Doak completed a renovation that has turned it into something of a monster.
A quirky monster, too, because it has only 17 bunkers and yet has proved one of the tougher tests on the schedule.
It’s a par 70 at 7,432 yards, but one with five par 3s and three par 5s. It has Bermuda grass and rough that makes life difficult for wild drivers of the ball.
Scottie Scheffler says of it: “It kind of forces you into being patient just because you can't really miss too many greens.
“Around the greens out here it’s also very, very difficult to get up and down. You can get into some spots where you start playing ping pong across these greens and it's brutal. Fairways and greens is definitely at a premium this week.”
Tournament favorite Scheffler famously won four times in six starts earlier this season, a run that vaulted him to the top of the world rankings.
He lost that spot last month but can retrieve it this week with an excellent result.
Texas-based, he was the tournament runner-up last year and he arrives fresh from finishing third in Mexico last week.
Aaron Wise has solid course form having finished the top 30 in the last two years.
He’s also a former winner in Texas, claiming the Byron Nelson Championship in 2018.
He’s in a nice trot of form, landing sixth in his season opener and 15th last week at El Camaleon.
Big Tony Finau missed the cut last week and almost missed the cut 12 months ago.
Before his weekend off in Mexico, he’s landed four top 10s in five starts, including two wins.
However, on debut at Memorial Park, he only finished 24th. He might be up against it this week.
The astute among you will have noticed that we are yet to discuss the second favorite Sam Burns and with good reason: because he’s the first tip owing to the fact that this week just looks right in the Kentucky man’s wheelhouse.
Over the last two years, he has proved himself a world-class performer but that has been especially true when he’s on Bermuda grass.
He’s won twice at Innisbrook, been triumphant once at Jackson, and lost a playoff at Southwind.
What about in Texas? He’s been a runner-up at Craig Ranch and a winner at Colonial.
His form? He finished seventh last time out at Congaree in THE CJ CUP.
And the clincher? His course form is superb.
In 2020 he actually led this tournament through 36 and 54 holes before finishing seventh.
A year later he was seventh again.
Take him in the outright at +1400 with BetMGM which is the industry's top price.
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Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes landed a second PGA Tour win last month, a pleasing return after a period of hard work with his coach designed to take his game to a different level.
As with this week (and with his first win at Sea Island in 2016), that triumph came on Bermuda grass greens and his putting has been strong this new season - he ranks top 20 for Strokes Gained Putting.
That is likely to matter this week because the slopey putting surfaces at Memorial Park have found plenty of golfers out.
It’s also clear that Hughes enjoys a tough course (scoring in the last two years at Memorial Park has been difficult).
Examples of his willingness to graft come in second place at PGA National in 2020 and a shared 54-hole lead in the 2021 US Open.
He finished seventh in this event in 2020 and was 29th last year.
In fine form, he can grab another top 10 with Bet365 offering top price at +600.
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Jason Day has a fine career record in Texas (with wins at both Austin CC and TPC Las Colinas), he’s rediscovered his form (finishing top 25 in each of his last three starts), and he has good course experience (seventh in 2020 and 54th last year).
It means that he is understandably well-favored this week.
It might, perhaps, be wise to go against the flow.
For one thing, the Australian hasn’t landed four top 25s in a row since early 2019.
For another, he has long-standing injury problems that can crop up at any time.
Denny McCarthy leads the head-to-count 14-6 over the last 20 tournaments which both he and Day have played.
Take McCarthy to prevail again at +105 with DraftKings Sportsbook.
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Tournament: The Cadence Bank Houston Open
Location: Memorial Park Municipal Golf Course, Houston, Texas
Date: Thursday, November 10 - Sunday 13 November
How to watch: Thursday-Sunday 1-4 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. And all four days on Sky Sports.
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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