It may have lost its title sponsor but there is still a buzz around the PGA Tour as we head to the 2018 Houston Open for our golf preview and betting predictions this week.
We are just one tournament away from the Masters and while there are some notable absentees in Texas, we still have a strong field looking for form ahead of 2018’s first major.
Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas sit this one out while our most recent winner Bubba Watson also takes a break and that leaves us with a tight market ahead of the first tee time.
Many betting sites for Americans have Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth locked as favorites at around 10/1 while in some places Rose is just a few points ahead. The Englishman has enjoyed a steady start to the new season without really threatening to claim a trophy so his position at the top of the betting may be something of a surprise.
Spieth has been second here, in 2015, but while we have recently tipped his trophy drought to end, the reigning Open Champion has done little to justify our faith.
We should also mention Rickie Fowler in our extended list of favorites this week as one bookmaker also lists him at the same Houston Open outright winner odds as Spieth and Rose. He is further back with most outlets however but could have the stats to deliver in Houston.
At the head of the chasing pack is Henrik Stenson (+1200 with Bovada) who has finished as runner up in this event on two previous occasions. The last of those came in 2016 and while the Swede missed the cut last year, a return to form at the Arnold Palmer Invitational will see plenty of interest in the former Open Champion.
The first name that really interests us, however, is that of Phil Mickelson (+1200) who is priced identically to Stenson in some quarters but he seems to have everything going for him. Relevant stats see Phil head the Power Rankings this week. He is a former champion in 2011 and is in top form with high finishes to go alongside victory in the WGC Mexico Championship at the start of the month.
The market really starts to drift from this point so the outsider section is going to be a busy one. At the head of it are Luke List and Daniel Berger (+2500) who can’t be separated by the oddsmakers and marginally further back is our reigning champion Russell Henley (+3300). The American won by three clear strokes in 2017 but it was his first victory in three years and he has yet to add to a modest record of three tour trophies.
Moving right down, JB Holmes (+7000) is another name that interests us as we get out into some distant prices. He won this event following a play off in 2015 and like Russell Henley, Holmes is without a victory since but he has the stats to mount another challenge this week.
A shorter option may be Tony Finau (+2800) who is ninth in the FedEx standings. He is a big hitter who should be suited to the length of the course but has a poor record at this event despite standing in 14th place on this week’s Power Rankings. Matt Kuchar also features highly in those rankings and is a former runner up here while there are a host of names we could add to the list in a very open field.
Houston Open Predictions, Course & Betting Trends with Our Preview’s Picks
It has seen a number of venues in its 72 year history but this tournament now seems settled at its current home, the Golf Club of Houston. Here we have a relatively lengthy par 72 course at over 7,400 yards but driving stats appear unimportant with neither distance nor accuracy proving to be particularly prevalent among our list of most recent winners.
Greens in Regulation does, however, tend to shine through and that is the main factor that we will keep an eye on while making our Houston Open 2018 betting predictions. Multiple winners are very rare and we have yet to see a double or higher since Australia’s Stuart Appleby lifted his second trophy in 2006.
On to this year and while the three men at the top of the betting all make a strong case, we will dip slightly further down and back Phil Mickelson. We have been behind the veteran for most of his return to form in 2018 and agree with those who have placed the left hander at the head of the Power Rankings. So looking to our Houston Open predictions, these are our preview’s betting picks: