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25th April 2024 5:38 am

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

PGA Tour: The Houston Open

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Sandy Lane previews this week’s PGA Tour event, The Texas Children’s Houston  Open in Texas
Please note that bets must be placed by 12.20 on Thursday.
The Memorial Park Golf Course in Uptown Houston
Speaking of children, I nearly choked on my Cheerios on Monday when I read what Cameron Young, one of our selections to win the Valspar Championship in Florida, had said after his clumsy implosion in the Snake Pit at Copperhead: “I was worried about the 4-hour drive home with two toddlers in the car.
Really Cameron? Didn’t you think your infants might have enjoyed throwing your trophy around in the back seat? “Nuff of that”, as we Bajans say. At least CY finished second, thus securing the place element of our bet. No golf guru anywhere on the globe could have fancied the eventual winner, Peter Malnaty. The 300-1 shot had not won a tournament for nine years, partly, in my view, because of his insistence on wearing that very silly floppy hat, which, clearly, was not purchased at Locks of St. James.
Onwards and Onwards to the Houston Open, played at Memorial Park, a public course in downtown Houston. This Par-70 set-up, unusually, features only 17 bunkers. But other more punishing hazards abound in the shape of seriously thick, rough, tight sleep slopes and other complex contours. The key is to keep the ball on the fairway and then onto the greens as fast as possible. These are extra large, so the best putters are favoured. The most crucial stat, though, is strokes-gained-tee-to-green. There have been only three previous stagings at this course, and the event has been moved to March from November, allowing the winner to sneak in the Masters back door. Lots then of sliding doors.
With all this in mind, here are my Big 5 selections for the Houston Open: There are eight places generally –  Coral is ten places and Bet365 is five with a ¼ odds. Name and Current Price:
  • Will Zalatoris 22/1 Betfair 8p: It may be his first visit here, but his form leading up to the Players read 13-2-4, and Sawgrass is not his bag. He is a strong tee-to-green player and Memorial Park could have been designed just for him.
  • Satith Theegala 16/1 generally: This rising star’s latest form figures of 20-5-37-6-9 are outstanding and he ticks or double ticks 5 of my six stats boxes. He should figure prominently.
  • Andrew Novak 100/1 Paddy Power – Betfair: He’s a hot iron player, which is so important here, and has enticing form figures of 8-8-9-MC-17. A winner waiting to happen and way over-priced
  • Doug Ghim 60/1 generally: Before losing the plot with one dodgy round last week, Doug had gone 13-12-8-16. An outsider with a big chance.
  • Keith Mitchell 33/1: Held a healthy lead during the Valspar before a dramatic late collapse. He has generally been consistent this year and deserves another dice throw.
However, as they say in Texas, “Houston, we have a problem” Sorry, there are actually two problems! My preferred headline selection, Wyndham Clark (12/1), has declared a back injury today (Wednesday) and has drifted like a barge in the betting. We will need to review our portfolio after round 1 if he plays. The second is more straightforward. Scottie Scheffler 13/5), our hero at the Players, is a worthy red-hot favourite here and must carry a 4-point win stake to cover our 1 point each way on the players above and Tony Finau 28/1, who has been in ghastly recent form, but is the defending Houston champion.

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