2016 Shell Houston Open Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

With the season’s first major next week already (let me repeat that- THE MASTERS IS NEXT WEEK!!  Cue me some David Loggins asap!), organizers of this week’s Shell Houston Open again have annually prepared the course to emulate conditions that players will see at Augusta next week—tightly cut, shaved banks instead of deep rough around the greens allow for crafty bump-and-runs to be played onto the firm and fast greens.  The rough in general is cut more than half of standard PGA Tour length, as that is how the green jackets at Augusta like to keep it.  Overall, the Rees Jones design is a par 72 that measures 7,441 yards, which will provide a stern test to all of those teeing it up this week.

There are a number of big names in the field this week working on eleventh hour tune-ups for Augusta, including Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and many others.

My picks last week at the Puerto Rico Open were just so-so, as all 3 players made the cut, but all finished in the t-21st to t-39th range.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Rodgers t-21st)

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson
– A surprisingly poor track record here may throw many off of DJ’s scent this week (he did finish t-4th here in ’13), but the SHO course setup couldn’t be more TaylorMade to fit his game (pun absolutely intended).  Long, short rough, driving accuracy essentially not required and oh yeah, the fact that DJ’s last 3 tourney finishes have gone: quarter-finalist at last week’s WGC Match Play, a t-14th at Doral where he was in the final group and ballooned on Sunday to skew his finishing result, and a solo 4th at Riviera, all make me love his chances this week.  He’s in prime form heading into the season’s first major next week, and he very well may do so with the SHO trophy in hand.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Weekley t-35th)

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka– Brooks ran into the Jason Day buzzsaw last week in the WGC Match Play quarterfinals, but was in fine form all week, just like he has been most of this calendar year.  He’s a SHO first-timer, but have no fear, this Golf Club of Houston course was built for his type of game.  Wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever to see Brooksy in contention on Sunday.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Cejka t-11th)

Louis Oosthuizen
Louis Oosthuizen
– If history has taught us anything, it’s that Louis can never be fully trusted.  Yep, I do realize that he played some superb golf last week and finished runner-up at the WGC Match Play.  And yep, I also do realize that he claims he’s fit and this his back feels great.  But, I also don’t have a short-term memory and remember that this is the same Louis who time and time again unexpectedly WD’s from tournaments and falters when the hype is at its highest.  Take last spring for example- after a solid stretch of going t-19th at the Masters, t-7th at the RBC Heritage and playing his way into the WGC Match Play quarterfinals, he went: t-69th at the PLAYERS Championship, then missed the cut at the Wells Fargo and WD’d from the Colonial after round 3.  Then, coming back from that Colonial WD, one month later at the U.S. Open when nobody was predicting anything from him, he bounced back from an opening round 77 and nearly won the damn tournament, finishing t-2nd one stroke out of a playoff.  There are MANY examples like this throughout Louis’ career—he simply can’t be trusted on any consistent basis, especially after playing 72 holes in two days over the weekend.  Stay away from Louis this week and thank me later.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK-BOLD-PLAY-OF-THE-WEEK (Last week: Toms t-39th)

Patrick Rodgers
Patrick Rodgers
– A slow start to 2016 had many fantasy golfers alike cursing PRod’s name, but his inevitable talent is heating up.  He’s carded 8 straight rounds of par or better, finishing t-20th at Bay Hill and t-21st in Puerto Rico in his last two events.  First timer here at SHO, but much like Koepka in my Semi-Flier spot above his length off the tee will serve him well this week.  Expect another top 20-ish finish from PRod this week with top 10 upside.

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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