2017 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, Jon Rahm, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Adam Scott and many others.

I took last week off from my column (#sorrynotsorry Puerto Rico Open and WGC Match Play), but two weeks ago my picks at the Arnold Palmer Invitational were straight nails as my Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week on Marc Leishman took home the trophy.

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


Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson
– It was a toss-up for me to either put Phil or Kuchar here, but I went with Lefty this week.  He won here in 2011, then since has gone t-4th, t-16th, t-12th, t-17th, t-13th here.  You could say that you fear that his mind will already be in Augusta for the Masters next week, but that same thought process would’ve applied those past several years as well, in which he was in or near contention every year the past 6 years.  The truth is that Phil LOVES Augusta more than any other tournament and plays here as a tune-up for earning those green jackets, of which he has 3.  Following a very solid performance at last week’s WGC Match Play in which he dominated every match up until the quarterfinals (I’m actually glad he lost on Sat afternoon so that he didn’t have to play 36 holes on Sunday to save some energy), a top 20 this week is a virtual guarantee with top 5 upside.


Russell Henley
Russell Henley
– This fist-pumping, rock-rollin’ Georgia boy would love nothing more than to win this week and to earn an invite into next week’s Masters “tooniment.”  Well, he’s definitely on the right track at this Golf Club of Houston venue, as he’s 4/4 here in cuts made with his last 3 finishes here going t-7th, 4th and t-5th.  I fear that his ownership will be high, but you can’t argue with that supreme course history and oh yeah, he’s made his past 4 cuts on Tour including a t-9th just a few weeks ago at the Valspar Championship.


Patrick Cantlay
Patrick Cantlay
– Oodles of career upside on this recently-turned 25-year-old’s shoulders, but just because he finished runner-up 3 weeks ago at the Valspar Championship, don’t automatically pencil him in this week.  He’s a first-timer here at the SHO and now with his PGA Tour card secured for the season he may let up a bit.  You might argue that’s exactly what he needs- to feel that relief to free-wheel it- but, let’s keep expectations in check and allow for him to bloom a bit before expecting too much.


Morgan Hoffmann
Morgan Hoffmann
– Whoa Joel.  It’s not even baseball season yet and this one is totally out of left field! (yeah yeah, sorry for the corny line).  Well hey, BOLD style is the way that I roll and that’s what I’m doing with Morgan here this week.  After some very positive trajectory earlier in March, including a t-2nd at the Honda Classic he crashed with a MC two weeks ago at Bay Hill, where he’s contended before (4th two years prior).  His course history here at the Golf Club of Houston is an 0-fer, but let others get caught up in that while you pounce on what’s sure to be super low ownership, then thank me later.


Joel Harrington



    One of the best…use your picks in DFS and generally make some cash

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