Shell Houston Open
Analysis and write-up provided by KendoVT. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to see each player’s tournament history.
The final Tour stop for golfers before The Masters takes place from The Golf Club of Houston (GCOH) in Humble, Texas. This is the last chance for golfers not already in the field next week to get a shot at playing Augusta. The winner will get an automatic birth into the The Masters. GCOH does a good job mimicking Augusta National so many golfers come here to get in some practice before the big tournament next week. The Tournament Course at GCOH is a 7,441 yard par 72 with four par 3s and four par 5s. Off the tee golfers will see average width fairways with light rough, bunkers in the right (or wrong) places, and water on 10 holes. The greens use bent grass with a little bit of bermuda and ryegrass as well. They are above average in size and there is little to no rough surrounding them but like Augusta National there will be tightly cut shaved banks that lead to collection areas and bunkers. The greens have a little slope but are much flatter than what the golfers will see next week. They usually play firm and fast with a stimpmeter reading of 13.5, though if it rains they will play much softer and slower. Weather can play a factor as windy conditions are the norm and rain can make this course play really long. As of now it looks like it will be rainy on Thursday with light winds and it will be very windy on Friday. Since winds here usually pick up as the day moves on, looking at golfers who play the PM/AM wave this week could be to your benefit. Check the weather forecast as the week goes on to make your final decisions. Another thing you should probably look for are golfers that play a natural draw as much of the course favors a right to left ball flight.
Looking at the course description above and trends for the course the last few years, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats, current form, and course history to select golfers for my DraftKings lineups this week.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P) and Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G), which are key stats every week.
Driving Distance (DD):
The course plays long and it looks like rain is in the forecast for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, which will make the course much slower and much longer. Since the rough around the fairways are not that penalizing, hitting it a mile out there will be to a golfers benefit this week, especially if the forecast is correct and it rains the next few days on the course. I would not rule out shorter hitters that hit their long irons well but if the course is playing as soft as the weather projects it to, it could be tough for the shorter hitters to compete.
Birdie or Better % (BoB):
Even though the course tries to mimic Augusta National, there are a lot more birdie opportunities here at GCOH. Golfers will need over 20 birdies this week to contend. In the last nine years 22/31 golfers that finished Top 3 or better were inside the Top 75 in this stat for the specific year they finished Top 3.
Par 5 scoring (P5):
The par 5s are long but golfers will still need to take advantage of them to be able to contend. In the last 9 years 22/31 golfers that finished Top 3 or better were inside the Top 80 in this stat for that specific year.
Proximity from 200 yards plus (Prox200+) and Proximity from 150-175 yards (Prox150):
Over 30% of all approach shots at GCOH in the last nine years has come from 200 yards or more and over 20% of all approach shots have come from 150-175 yards. That means around 50% of all approaches to the green will be coming from these two distances. Finding a golfer who is strong at both of these distances will give you a leg up against everyone else.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
Ricky Fowler ($11,000):
Fowler has been having a splendid year with five Top 10s in his last six events played. He also comes in as my #1 ranked golfer this week when only taking stats into account. He’s 8th in SG:T2G, 9th in BoB, 1st in P5, 29th in DD, and 18th in Prox150. He hasn’t played too well here in the past which makes me a little hesitant to use him in cash games at his price but a victory is coming for him this year soon and this could be the week. (GPP only)
Henrik Stenson ($10,800):
Stenson rarely hits driver off the tee which would make people think he is at a disadvantage this week but he is supremely accurate with his three wood and still hits it close to 300 yards with that club. He hits his long irons well and always makes the cut. If he can get his putter going he can make some noise. He has made all four of his cuts at GCOH and has two Top 3 finishes here in the past. I also think he might be slightly under owned because he is stuck in between Fowler, DJ, and Mickleson in price. He is my #2 ranked golfer overall this week. (GPP and cash)
Dustin Johnson ($10,700):
DJ comes in as my #1 golfer overall this week. He hits it a mile and has great stats for the course. He has been playing fairly well this year with five Top 15 finishes in seven events. His course history here is a little checkered so I won’t be using him in cash lineups but he will be in many of my GPP lineups. (GPP only)
Phil Mickleson ($10,500):
Lefty is my #3 ranked golfer overall this week. He has had a solid season so far with four Top 11s in six events. He has made his last six cuts at GCOH with five Top 17s and a victory here 5 years ago. His stats for the course are great. He’s 6th in SG:T2G, 11th in BoB, 11th in P5, 41st in DD, 14th in SG:P, and 68th in Prox150. It’ is Phil and he can be volatile on occasion but his form looks good and his new putting technique looks solid, so I still feel comfortable using him in cash lineups this week. (GPP and cash)
JB Holmes ($9,700):
Holmes is the defending champion at this event and loves this course. He has made his last five cuts here at GCOH with FOUR Top 12 finishes. He hits the ball a mile and has great Proximity stats from both 150-175 yards and 200+ yards. I like his price a lot and he will be a staple in my cash lineup. (GPP and cash)
Brooks Koepka ($9,300):
Koepka is another long driver of the ball and like I stated before that should be very helpful this week especially if the conditions are soft because of the rain. He also makes a ton of birdies which is always helpful with the DraftKings scoring. (GPP only)
Jimmy Walker ($9,200):
Walker has been having a great season so far. He has SIX Top 13 finishes in nine events and has made his last five cuts at GCOH. He’s 18th in SG:T2G, 15th in BoB, 3rd in P5, 40th in DD, 36th in SG:P, and 15th in Prox150. He hasn’t finished too highly here in the past but I think this year could be the year where he does well. (GPP and cash)
Mid Level Golfers ($7000-$8900)
Charles Howell III ($8,900):
CH3’s high price tag worries me a bit but he has been one of the most consistent golfers out there this season. He has made 12/13 cuts this year with NINE Top 25 finishes. His stats are well above average and he has good course history at GCOH. (GPP and cash)
Ryan Palmer ($8,200):
Palmer is a Texas native who plays well in the wind. He is my #8 ranked golfer stat wise this week. He’s 47th in SG:T2G, 27th in BoB, 4th in P5, 8th in DD, 71st in Prox150, and 57th in Prox200+. He has made 8/9 cuts this year and finished 7th his last time out at GCOH. (GPP and cash)
Tony Finau ($8,100):
Finau is coming off a victory last week at the Puerto Rico Open which a lot of the time means he’s in for a down week. I don’t think that this is going to be the case for Tony. Even though he won last week he still has not qualified for The Masters and I think that will be a big motivation for him. Couple that with his high confidence because of the victory, I think he can make noise this week. He hits it a mile, makes a ton of birdies, and is accurate from 200 plus yards. (GPP only)
Cameron Tringale ($8,000):
Stat wise, Tringale is just average but he is the definition of a course horse this week. In his last four starts at GCOH he has finished 5th, 4th, 16th, and 8th. He is a slightly risky play because he has only made 6/10 cuts this year but he has a good chance of finishing high on the leaderboard this week. (GPP only)
Scott Brown ($7,900):
Brown has been playing some of the best golf of his career since the birth of his new baby. He has made the cut in his last five events and has THREE Top 10 finishes in that same span. I think he will make the cut and has a chance at a high finish. (GPP and cash)
Kevin Chappell ($7,800):
Chappell comes in as the #5 ranked golfer overall for me this week. He finished 2nd at Bay Hill and if you watched the telecast the commentators were really high on him. They stated that a lot of Tour players think that he has the game to be a multiple winner on Tour. These guys have more information on golfers than we will ever have and I will be taking their advice. His stats for the course combined with the information from the Golf Channel commentators leads me to believe that this could be his week. He’s 25th in SG:T2G, 63rd in BoB, 77th in P5, 46th in DD, 37th in Prox150, and 34th in Prox200+. He might be my highest owned golfer in GPPs this week. (GPP only)
Steve Stricker ($7,700):
Stricker’s game has been trending up the last few weeks. He doesn’t play much but he finished 11th at Riviera and 7th at the Valspar. He has made 8/9 cuts at GCOH with FOUR Top 10s. His stats are not the best but he is an elite putter and his experience here should help. Even though he has only made 50% of his cuts this year, I still think he is a safe bet to make the cut this week. (GPP and cash)
Brendan Steele ($7,400):
Steele is my #2 ranked golfer when just looking at stats for the course. He’s 31st in SG:T2G, 36th in BoB, 21st in P5, 22nd in DD, 37th in Prox150, and 38th in Prox200+. He has made all eight of his cuts this calendar year and I love his price tag. (GPP and cash)
Gary Woodland ($7,300):
Woodland is another bomber that has good stats for the course. He’s 20th in SG:T2G, 17th in P5, 2nd in DD, 8th in Prox150, and 62nd in Prox200+. I like his price and I think his length will be very helpful if the course plays longer because of rain. (GPP only)
Patrick Rodgers ($7,300):
Rodgers seems to have righted the ship after a month long stretch of poor play. He finished 21st last week in Puerto Rico which loses its luster a little bit because of the weak field but he finished 20th the week before at Bay Hill which was a very strong field. He’s a long hitter who plays par 5s well and is accurate from 200 yards plus. (GPP only)
Low End Value Picks ($5000-$6900)
Kyle Reifers ($6,900):
Reifers has been playing well recently making four of his last five cuts on Tour and has good course history here with an 11th and 21st place finish in his two appearances here. His stats are just average but he does play par 5s well. (GPP only)
Alex Cejka ($6,800):
It looks like Cejka is over his hand injury and has played well recently making his last three cuts on Tour. His stats for the course are just average but his scoring stats are great. He’s 40nd in SG:T2G, 34th in BoB, 14th in Bogey Avoidance, 2nd in Par 3 scoring, and 11th in Par 4 scoring. Since DraftKings rewards scoring I like his chances this week to at least reach value. He finished 11th here last year. (GPP only)
Sean O’hair ($6,800):
O’hair hits the ball long, is a great putter, plays par 4s very well, and is great out of the sand. All these things should help him this week. (GPP only)
Chez Reavie ($6,700):
Reavie has quietly had a solid season making 10/12 cuts with five Top 26 finishes. He’s not the longest hitter but he has a great Tee to Green game, avoids bogeys, is accurate off the tee, is an elite scrambler, and is very accurate from 150-175 yards and 200+ yards. He has made his last three cuts at GCOH and I like him as a value play in cash lineups this week. (GPP and cash)
Hudson Swafford ($6,000):
Swafford hits the ball far, plays par 5s well, is a good putter, and is accurate from both key distances this week. He has been playing well recently with three made cuts during the Florida swing and he is 1/2 in made cuts at GCOH. (GPP only)
Jhonnattan Vegas ($5,700):
Vegas has made three of his last four cuts on Tour and has made his last three cuts at GCOH. His stats for the course are solid. He’s 64th in SG:T2G, 44th in P5, 28th in DD, 57th in SG:P, and 16th in Prox200+. He is also elite in Greens in Regulation and I like him a lot this week at this price. (GPP and cash)
Andrew Loupe ($5,700):
Loupe has really good stats for the course. He’s 22nd in BoB, 36th in P5, 20th in DD, 27th in SG:P, and 29th in Prox200+. He has missed his last two cuts making him a GPP play only but he does have THREE Top 10s this year so the upside is there. (GPP only)
JJ Henry ($5,000):
Henry has made 8/9 cuts this year and has made 75% of his cuts at GCOH the last eight years. That plus his minimum price is enough for me to roster him in stars and scrubs lineups this week. With all the firepower up top, I can even see using him as a punt play in cash lineups so you can roster multiple 10k+ golfers. (GPP and cash)
That’s it for this week. For more PGA DFS knowledge check out my Podcast. It’s called Fantasy Golf Degenerates and you can find it on iTunes. You can also follow me on Twitter for more fantasy golf info!
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Commentary based on DraftKings strategy and scoring.