I was ready to forget about Houston after the conclusion of the World Series this weekend, but alas, Houston is here to stay for yet another week. The 2023 Cadence Bank Houston Open is on tap next at Memorial Park Golf Course, with a full field of PGA TOUR odds to navigate.
The cadence in which we cycle through title sponsors at the Houston Open is just about yearly now. Cadence Bank is a first-time sponsor of this event. It was preceded by Hewlett Packard Enterprises and Vivint in 2021 & 2020, went unsponsored in 2018 & 2019, and endured a longer tenured sponsorship with Shell prior to that.
Despite the change in the name, Houston remains a mainstay for this event, and Memorial Park will host now for the third consecutive year. It’s a bit of an outlier compared to the birdie fest layouts we’d typically expect in the Fall Swing. In the last two years hosting, Even Par through four rounds has been good enough for a T40 finish, so Bogey Avoidance and Scrambling will be at a premium. Overall, players who have a proven track record in difficult or Major-like conditions should be best equipped to navigate Memorial Park.
Now let’s get into the key facts and info about Memorial Park Golf Course before betting Cadence Bank Houston Open odds.
CADENCE BANK HOUSTON OPEN ODDS: THE FAVORITES
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CADENCE BANK HOUSTON OPEN ODDS: FIELD AT A GLANCE
The Houston Open has attracted some solid fields over the last two years since relocating to Memorial Park, but this field of 132 leaves a bit to be desired. Local Longhorn (by way of New Jersey) Scottie Scheffler is here to headline the field amidst an active Fall Swing for the World No. 2. He has solid history on this course with a runner up finish here last year, and is poised to be the favorite once again. Scheffler is also joined by Sam Burns, Tony Finau, and Hideki Matsuyama to represent the OWGR Top-20.
We’ll also see solid names like Aaron Wise, Sepp Straka, Taylor Montgomery, Russell Henley, Emiliano Grillo, and Denny McCarthy who should represent the second tier when odds are released.
Noticeably absent this week will be each of the last two Houston Open winners at Memorial Park, as Jason Kokrak and Carlos Ortiz are instead sidelined for the next several months amidst the LIV offseason. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Cameron Tringale are also amongst the top-10 of total strokes gained at Memorial Park, but will be absent this week for the same reasons.
Russell Henley and Jim Herman represent the only past champions at the Houston Open in this week’s field.
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INTRODUCTION TO MEMORIAL PARK GOLF COURSE
This will mark the third consecutive year of play at Memorial Park for the Houston Open after a sustained 16-year stretch from 2003-2019 at the Golf Club of Houston. In 2019, Tom Doak completed a significant overhaul of Memorial Park, which was funded with $34M from the Houston Astros Foundation with input from none other than Brooks Koepka. Prior to Doak’s renovation, Memorial Park had hosted the PGA Tour’s Houston Open 14 times between 1947-1963, with Arnold Palmer notably winning here in ’57.
Whenever a player is brought on in an advisory role, it’s usually more cosmetic for marketing purposes, with the architect’s vision prevailing. In the case of Brooks Koepka at Memorial Park however, you can’t help but feel his influence. This renovated golf course does not possess the historical significance or stakes of a Major, but it’s been constructed in a way that closely emulates Major conditions with a combination of length and difficult green-side runoffs that reward all-around skillsets of distance, ball-striking, and short game.
How It Breaks Down
Memorial Park is a long par-71, playing to 7,412 yards on the scorecard with three par-5s, five par-3s, and 10 par-4s. Of the par-4s, half will play over 490 yards, which will impose a stern ball-striking test on the field.
There are only five holes with a scoring average under par, which is a stark contrast from the birdie fest conditions we’ve become used to over the last month. Unsurprisingly, the five 490+ yard par-4s and 237 yard par-3 are the most difficult scoring holes on the course.
What I found most interesting about Memorial Park is that through the first two years of play post-renovation, the shortest par-3 (155 yards), par-4 (382 yards), and par-5 (576 yards) each have a scoring average over-par. This shows that the firm conditions, tight runouts around the green, and susceptibility to gusting Texas winds all make this golf course play even more difficult than the stock scorecard yardage would suggest.
Looking at the hole-by-hole breakdown at Memorial Park, the top-10 players best suited for a course which features this mix of Par 3, 4, and 5s are Tony Finau, Emiliano Grillo, Aaron Wise, Andrew Putnam, Sam Burns, Taylor Pendrith, Scottie Scheffler, Callum Tarren, Mark Hubbard, and Jason Day.
Traits And Recent Notable Facts
Fast, oversized Bermuda greens with tight surrounding runoff areas highlight the identity of Memorial Park. Not unlike Southern Hills or other recent links-style courses, Memorial Park will call for creative shot making around the greens, with a myriad of options to scramble when approaches inevitably miss their target.
The wind has been fairly calm in the first two iterations of this event, but we should always anticipate gusting winds whenever golfing in Texas, which will further emphasize short game. Over its first two years, Memorial Park has ranked inside the top-10 of most difficult courses to score from around the greens, both from the rough and tight fairway runoff areas.
Despite its length, standing over 7,400 yards, the par-3s offer somewhat of a respite at this course, ranking bottom-5 in average Par-3 length in each of the last two years. The par-3s are still not birdie opportunities by any means, so players will be content to finish the week at Even par across them.
In short, the course has been designed to reward skilled all-around players with distance, strong ball striking, and reliable short game in their arsenal.
MEMORIAL PARK GOLF COURSE SPECS
- Yards: 7,412
- Par: 70 (5x 3’s / 10x 4’s / 3x 5’s)
- Greens: Bermuda
- Architect: Tom Doak, with input from Brooks Koepka
- Historical Cut Line: +2, +4
- Median Score 4-round Score: -1 (’21)
- Comp Courses: Renaissance Club, Bay Hill, Southern Hills, Quail Hollow, Colonial CC, St. George’s G & CC PGA National, GC of Houston
- Recent Houston Open Winners: Jason Kokrak -10 (’22), Carlos Ortiz -13 (’21), Lanto Griffin -14 (’20), Ian Poulter -19 (’18), Russell Henley -20 (’17)
- Hole-by-hole Breakdown:
COURSE HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS
Over the first two years of play at Memorial Park, it’s Sam Burns who stands out at the top of the field in terms of Course History, finishing T7 each year. After Burns, the rest of the top-10 in Course History at Memorial Park includes Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Long, Scottie Scheffler, Joel Dahmen, Aaron Wise, Mackenzie Hughes, Russell Henley, Sepp Straka, and Robert Streb. It’s difficult to draw overarching conclusions after just two years, but considering the additional top results from players like Jason Kokrak, Carlos Ortiz, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka, who are all absent this week, a trend of Driving Distance, top-tier ball striking, and Bermuda putting begins to prevail.
The list of players to finish top-35 in each of the first two years at Memorial Park includes Sam Burns, Scottie Scheffler, Russell Henley, Maverick McNealy, Aaron Wise, Adam Long, Scott Piercy, and Mackenzie Hughes. In addition, Sepp Straka, Kramer Hickok, Hideki Matsuyama, Kevin Tway, and Joel Dahmen have each posted a T5 finish in one of the first two years at Memorial Park.
As a baseline for course comps this week, I’m looking at recent courses that have produced similar median scoring averages around Even Par to closely simulate the importance of Bogey Avoidance in difficult conditions, particularly with tight runoff areas around the green. Southern Hills, Bay Hill, and The Renaissance Club are at the top of the list for those reasons, with a special nod to The Renaissance Club for sharing the Tom Doak connection.
St. George’s Golf & Country Club, host of the 2022 RBC Canadian Open, is another Tom Doak design which featured challenging scoring conditions and produced an extremely top-heavy leaderboard of complete all-around players, like we’ve seen in Memorial Park’s first two years.
PGA National and Quail Hollow have rewarded a similar skillset of strong long-iron players on firm Bermuda greens and difficult scoring conditions. And for the regional element, Colonial CC and GC of Houston have proven to simulate these intermittent Texas winds. Colonial CC in particular has produced wins from Jason Kokrak and Sam Burns over the last two years, who each have a pristine track record at Memorial Park.
Combine performance across this list and the top-10 players in Comp Course History here are Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Aaron Wise, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Ryan Palmer, Keith Mitchell, and Harris English.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BETTING PGA TOUR ODDS
- SG: APP / SG: Ball Striking
- Driving Distance
- Bogey Avoidance
- Par-5 Scoring
- Prox: 200+
- SG: ARG / Scrambling Gained
- SG: P (Bermuda) / SG: P (L36)
- SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions)
- Course + Comp Course History
Looking at the best approach players heading into this week, the top-10 in terms of SG: APP include Russell Henley, Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Brendan Steele, Hideki Matsuyama, Mark Hubbard, Lee Hodges, Chesson Hadley, Adam Schenk, and Matthew NeSmith. More than one third of the approach shots are expected to come from over 200 yards between the three par-5s, two long par-3s, and five par-4s over 490 yards. The top-10 long iron players in this week’s field are Brendan Steele, Alex Smalley, Austin Eckroat, Cameron Champ, Matthias Schmid, Trey Mullinax, Joel Dahmen, Aaron Wise, Emiliano Grill, and Justin Suh.
Birdie opportunities are few and far between at Memorial Park, so it’s crucial to take advantage of those elusive chances. The par-5s ranked inside the top-3 most difficult in scoring average each of the last two years, but even so, this is still where players can gain separation. The top-10 players in Par-5 Scoring are Stephan Jaeger, Aaron Wise, Cameron Champ, Patrick Rodgers, Dean Burmester, Alex Noren, Scottie Scheffler, Davis Thompson, Justin Lower, and Taylor Montgomery.
With conditions expected to be much more challenging than the most recent stretch of birdie fests in the Fall Swing, it’s a crucial week to reference a combination of both Bogey Avoidance and SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions). There are just 10 players who rank top-25 in both categories: Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Aaron Wise, Adam Long, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Schenk, Joel Dahmen, Adam Hadwin, Sebastian Munoz, and Denny McCarthy.
The ideal player for this week should rank above-average in Driving Distance, Recent T2G Form, SG: ARG + Scrambling, Comp Course History, and SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions) + Bogey Avoidance). There are just seven players who fit that criteria: Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Taylor Montgomery, Sam Burns, Jason Day, Keith Mitchell, and Ben Griffin.
Recently, there haven’t been that many opportunities to reference Strokes Gained trends from past years, with many Fall Swing events being played outside the boundaries of ShotLink-equipped setups. This week, although with only eight rounds of sample size, it’s still worth a look at how players have gone about gaining their strokes at Memorial Park compared to TOUR average.
So far, the data shows a significant advantage for players who have been able to capitalize on Par-5 Scoring, particularly from longer ranges, Conversely, Par-4: 400-450 and Par-4: 450-500 are severely deprioritized at Memorial Park, with sparse birdie opportunities available to separate from the field.
Only eight players in the field rank above average in each of the above 10 key stat categories: Aaron Wise, Tony Finau, Sam Burns, Lee Hodges, Taylor Montgomery, Keith Mitchell, Taylor Moore, and Greyson Sigg.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: DEAN BURMESTER
You’ve heard of Bermuda Burns, now get ready for Bermuda Burmester. Okay, we may not have enough data yet to jump to conclusions on the 33-year-old PGA TOUR rookie from South Africa, but he continues to gain steam week over week. Over his last eight starts between the DP World Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, and PGA TOUR, Burmester has posted five T11-or-better finishes; his best result over that span was a 4th place finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship, which also featured Bermuda grass throughout.
Burmester profiles as a bomber off-the-tee (No. 17 Driving Distance) with great touch around the green (No. 12 SG: ARG) and the ability to catch a hot putter (most recently gaining 6 strokes putting at the Sanderson Farms). That is a perfect profile for what Memorial Park demands, and despite this being his Houston Open debut, those results have already been back tested on Comp Courses and Major conditions.
Within his last 10 starts, Burmester has posted a T10 finish at Tom Doak’s Renaissance Club in the Genesis Scottish Open, one of the top comps to Memorial Park with its combination of firm, difficult, and windy conditions with tight runoffs around the greens that require touch and creativity. In the following week, he posted a T11 at St. Andrews, proving he has the game to hang around with the best players in the world. Prior to these top performances, Burmester was a winner on the DP World Tour at the 2021 Tenerife Open, once again proving he can get over the finish line in windy conditions on the Canary Islands.
Between the profile fit, trending recent form, and proven results in comparable conditions, I absolutely love Burmester’s chances this week, and I’ll be backing him with conviction in PGA TOUR odds as he sets out to claim his first career PGA TOUR victory. His best available PGA TOUR odds this week sit at: .
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE 2023 CADENCE BANK HOUSTON OPEN
I look forward to any tournament that’s set up to have its best players in the field rise to the top over four days. It’s part of what makes Major championships so compelling, and the best formula to produce such an end result is to heighten the scoring difficulty. That may not be as evident by Carlos Ortiz and Jason Kokrak winning in its first two years as host of the Houston Open, but we’ve still seen elite players like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Scottie Scheffler, and Sam Burns consistently rise to the top here. There is only one full-field event remaining in 2022 after this week, so we’ll try to end the year on a high note.
With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the PGA TOUR odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.
In my model, I’m emphasizing SG: APP, Comp Course History, Bogey Avoidance, and SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions), followed by a more balanced mix of Scrambling Gained + SG: ARG, Prox: 200+, Par-5 Scoring, Driving Distance, and SG: P (L36 + Bermuda).
In a field complete with heavy hitters like Scheffler, Burns, and Finau, it’s none other than Aaron Wise who takes the No. 1 overall spot in the model this week. This one does pass the eye test however, as the 2018 Byron Nelson winner returns to Texas, where he’s has had a good track record (T11 and T26 in his last two starts at Memorial Park). Wise has the game for a tough track, ranking top-10 in Comp Course History, Bogey Avoidance, SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions), Prox: 200+, and Scrambling Gained.
After Wise, the rest of my model’s top 10 features Tony Finau, Sam Burns, Hideki Matsuyama, Scottie Scheffler, Ben Griffin, Emiliano Grillo, Jason Day, Alex Smalley, and Callum Tarren.
When odds open on Monday, I’ll keep eye out if there’s value on any of the “Big 3”, but if not, I’ll look to build my card in the second tier around players like Aaron Wise, Taylor Montgomery, Dean Burmester and Cameron Champ.
Check back in later this week for more updates, and best of luck betting PGA TOUR odds!
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