2018 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! ALERT THE AUTHORITIES! Cue me some David Loggins asap!), organizers of this week’s 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.

A side note that it’s a bit of a somber week at the Houston, as in all likelihood this will be the final year of this tournament.  Most reccently sponsored by Shell, this tournament is now without a title sponsor and will likely be replaced in its run-up to Augusta next year by the Valero Texas Open (they may have to beg for players to tee it up at that monstrosity the week before Augusta).  Here’s to hoping that a title sponsor steps up and keeps the Houston Open at this wonderful, which models its conditions to try and match Augusta, for years to come (I’m not holding my breath).

There are a number of big names in the field this week working on eleventh hour tune-ups for Augusta, including Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar and others.

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

LOCKZILLA

Daniel Berger
Daniel Berger
– The 24-year-old disappointed me last week at the WGC Match Play, but then again, that event is basically a crapshoot from a picks standpoint, so I’m writing it off completely.  Looking past that, I’ll stare right at his finishes here in Houston of t-25th, t-5th and 5th, which goes quite well with his solid form YTD.  All the Berger this week, please.

SEMI-FLIER

Byeong Hun An
Byeong Hun An
– A first-timer here in Houston, the South Korean has been in fine form of late, most recently notching a t-14th at Bay Hill and a t-5th two events prior at the Honda Classic.  Still searching for that maiden PGA Tour victory and while I don’t necessarily expect for it to happen this week, I do love his chances to contend and finish around the t-8th-t-12th mark.  Oh yeah, FYI- I picked last year’s Houston Open winner Russell Henley in this very same Semi-Flier spot last year.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson
– Each golfer has their own way to get their games into shape heading into a major and for Phil, that’s always meant playing the week before.  While Lefty is obviously in incredible form so far this season and even though he has a strong track record here in Houston, I can’t help but think after last week’s Match Play exit that he’s looking beyond this week more so than usual to Augusta next week.  He’s been quoted in the past of saying that he’ll work on certain shots for Augusta in Houston during competition, even if the hole that he’s playing doesn’t specifically require it, which makes sense if, well, you are Phil Mickelson.  But, basically just calling for a quick departure to Georgia for Lefty this week.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK

Grayson Murray
Grayson Murray
– Yep, a little extra dash of bold this week.  Whether you’ve been noticing or not, the wacky, formerly toothless Murray has been having a solid season thus far, making 9 of 11 cuts, with 4 of those going for top 15 finishes (including a t-14th finish at Bay Hill a couple weeks ago).  Only one appearance here in Houston (t-55th last year), but don’t let that stop you.  Grayson Murrary is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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