Table of Contents
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
HOUSTON, WE HAVE GOLF
As we trail off toward the unofficial finish of 2022 competitive golf on the PGA Tour, there’s two chances left at snagging FedEx Cup points and getting that precious jumpstart on 2023 earnings. On the heels of Russell Henley’s walk-in-the-resort win at Mayakoba the tour jets a couple hours north over the Gulf to oil country for the Houston Open. As the second to last official event this week has the cadence of a getaway day in baseball terms – shoutout to the Astros for getting it done in the host city.
I love how sneaky cool Memorial Park GC is, the host course of this event in recent years. This event has definitely bounced around but I think it’s found a unique home for years to come. For those of you who don’t know (and there’s not a to know), it’s essentially a gigantic cluster of flat land, roads in every direction and not much greenery. This is exactly why the landscapes at Memorial Park contradict everything I just mentioned. It’s the Houston Open but when you watch it feels like this course could be in almost any state.
SHOWING LOVE FOR THE MUNI
Being a classic parkland style urban course, Memorial Park is right in front of your eyes. For a switch up, it’s nice every once in a while for the PGA Tour to play a muni course just like the rest of us – a no, nonsense, what you see is what you get type of track. Moderate in length, light in bunkers (only 30) and water hazards are sparse and small. The name of the game is to keep your ball in short grass for as long as you can, and to grind for pars on this sneaky difficult layout. Brace yourself – the PGA Tour golf you see will look a lot like the tracks you and I play on Saturdays, but the golf will be slightly elevated.
Teeing it up in Houston to get some last meaningful swings in are Scottie Scheffler (a Texas native), Hideki Matsuyama, Sam Burns and Tony Finau. Defending champion Jason Kokrak is living his best life on the LIV Tour so he for sure won’t be there, but keep a look out for a slew of Korn Ferry grads and young gunners to pepper this November leaderboard.
FORECASTING THE HOUSTON OPEN
In recent Houston Opens, it hasn’t been the predictable narrative of Tour pros tearing up your local muni and shooting a million under. Player feedback on Memorial Park is that it’s a stern test with little to no secrets or hidden danger. One of those courses you can;t complain about bad breaks very often – it’s the archer and not the arrow.
I’m prefacing my weekly picks based on exactly what I value the most. With every play I make, I’m always taking into account these factors and for the action in Texas, I’m working the 2021 leaderboard to see who likes the test here, and snagging a couple hot putters to balance out my picks.
1. Who’s hot and trending – recent high finishes, top 10 streaks and consistent play are never a bad thing.
2. Horses for courses – players love certain courses and course familiarity and experience are invaluable in a field of the world’s best.
3. What the numbers tell you this week – while I’m far from analytical, there’s always a tournament darling or two scattered across the golf talk stratosphere that stuns on paper.
4. Intangibles – while this allows for theater of the mind, there’s a mysterious optimism surrounding that feels “due” or if the price looks just right for buying.
At Mayakoba, I didn;t deliver a winner but it was another ”model of consistency” week for picks. Seamus Power finished 3rd to back up the W, and three other top 10’s from my card made a well rounded group of picks yet again. Not quite an A but a solid B+ week for pick’em!
THE SIX PACK OF PICKS
(Wanna start a Pick-X pool with your friends? Learn more here! Or, if you’re looking to start your own PGA One-and-Done pool, check those out here) (Hint: the main difference between the two is how many players you’ll pick each week)
1: Scottie Scheffler – Texas kid, looking to wrap up his DREAM 2022 year on a good note. He’s bound to contend and knows the track well, 2nd here last year
2: Russell Henley – Fall seems to be allowing for hot dice rollers. Seamus Power backed his W with a 3rd so let’s roll with last week’s winner to continue good form and the pattern.
3: Taylor Montgomery – Our go-to pick racked up another top 10 at Mayakoba (it’s exhausting I know) making it five top 20’s on tour for the rookie. Why won’t he keep it going?
4: Joel Dahmen – The jokester has serious game and he likes Memorial Park – top 10 finish here last year.
5: Patrick Rodgers – Trailed Rodgers for a good finish or two this fall and he’s been putting much batter as of recently – due for another leaderboard cameo.
6: Beau Hossler – Taking a bit of flier on a Texan with Houston connections, it’s that time of the year to dig deep when needed.
RYP One and Done Pick: Russell Henley
Where to watch: Golf Channel and Peacock all weekend – Memorial Park is the greenest section of Houston you’ll find and it will be on full display.
Why to watch: An intriguing city course takes center stage in Houston for the second to last PGA Tour event of the 2022 calendar.
What to eat: Houston does offer a delightful array of top tier cuisine. It’s easy to say BBQ, but I’ve had the best Thai food of my life there. Order up the Pad Thai!
Purse: $8.4 million
Winner’s Share: $1.51 million