Tournament Preview- Shell Houston Open

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff March 12, 2015 21:04

For the second straight week, the PGA Tour stays in Texas and the Golf Club of Houston, Tournament course for the Shell Houston Open and the player’s final tune-up before The Masters. Speaking of The Masters, be sure to check out our special section devoted just to the biggest tournament of the year, where we will be posting new material throughout the time leading up to the event. The Tournament course is a par 72, measures 7,441 yards long, and is carved out of woodlands lush with oak, pine, and cypress trees. Golf Club of Houston was formerly known as Redstone Golf Club and has been hosting the Shell Houston Open since 2003 with three years being played on the Member Course and since 2006 on The Tournament Course. There are a lot of trees on this course along with wetlands and many holes that are affected by water. This fact will make accuracy a key statistic that we analyze this week. There are four Par 5s and four Par 3s on The Tournament course.

The field this week will feature 14 of the world’s top 30 players including last week’s winner Jimmy Walker. Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Sergio Garcia will all be in attendance. It will be the last chance for many to try and qualify for The Masters, serving as extra motivation.

Last year Matt Jones won his first PGA Tour event in dramatic fashion – draining a 46-foot birdie to get into a playoff, then chipping in on the first extra hole to beat Matt Kuchar. Jones began the final round six shots off the lead, but used a 6-under-par 66 to catch Kuchar, who managed only a 72 after hitting his approach into the water for bogey on the 72nd hole.

Last week our theory of Texas players playing well proved true, at least for the winner and runner up, Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth. We had Spieth as our Top Stud Pick and he certainly was with a outright 2nd. Our other stud pick, Ryan Palmer played well with a T6. Jim Furyk however disappointed us greatly by taking a T58. Furyk had a great tournament history and a great start to his season, but has not played well at all his last two outings. This is a definite worry heading into the Masters next week. Four out of our five value picks for the week made the cut with Charley Hoffman T11 and Kevin Na T20 as the highlights. The Hoff was actually leading the tournament for a while and fell apart on Saturday to fall back. T11 for his price in DFS was very good however. Our only value pick to miss the cut was Daniel Berger, who has been a bit inconsistent over his past several tournaments. Our only sleeper to make the cut was Marc Warren who gave us a T35, which was great for his price. Our Texas sleepers, Justin Leonard and Martin Flores proved to be asleep. That will be the last time we roster Justin Leonard in DFS unless something dramatically changes with his game. He has missed the cut in the two tournaments he has played the best in his entire career, which says that he just does not have it anymore. Mark our words, we will deliver better sleepers going forward.

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Every tournament the overall best statistical indicator of success is Strokes Gained (Tee-to-Green, Putting, and Total). In addition to Strokes Gained, the statistic that stands out as being important this week is greens in regulation. There is quite a bit of trouble surrounding the greens at The Tournament Course and accurate approach shots are vital. In analyzing past year’s statistics we found the following from last year: Below are the players and how they ranked in greens in regulation at the Shell Houston Open and their corresponding finish.

1. Matt Kuchar (runner-up), 2. Matt Jones (winner), 3. Ben Curtis (T12), 4. Shawn Stefani (5th), 5. Rickie Fowler (6th), 6. Brice Garnett (7th), 7. Nicholas Thompon (T24) , 8. Angel Cabrera (T43), 9. Chris Stroud (T12). Greens in regulation are clearly important here.

Tournament History is a key piece of information that we analyze every week to see what players have played well in this tournament and on this course in the past. A few players that stand out this week include Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, and Ben Crane. Check out our complete Tournament History Page to see how every single player has performed at the Shell Houston Open in the past.

Our sportsbook odds vs daily pricing tool identifies those players that the sportsbooks like compared to how they are priced on the daily sites. A few players that stand out as great values this week include Carlos Ortiz, Robert Garrigus, and Jonas Blixt. Check out the complete list on our odds vs daily pricing page.

As always, stick to solid lineup building, diversification, smart game selection, and disciplined bankroll management. See: How to win playing daily fantasy golf.

One addition we are making this week is including a feature that says whether a player is a good cash game player, good tournament player (GPP) or both for all of our picks. This feature has been a request from our premium members who play DFS and we will happily oblige by providing that.

For access to our Top picks, value picks, sleepers, fades, and more become a premium member.


Be sure to note that Henrik Stenson, John Peterson, and Lucas Glover have all pulled out of the Shell Houston Open as of now.  Stay tuned to us for more withdrawals as the week progresses.


For DFS, based upon the player quality in the upper middle tier, we like a more balanced approach this week, so we will be recommending more players in that range.


Top Stud Picks:


Jordan Spieth- We have recommended Spieth in every tournament preview so far this year. Tell us how we have done: 2nd last week at Valero, 1st at Valspar, T17 at WGC Cadillac, T4 at Northern Trust, T7 at AT&T Pebble Beach, MC at Farmers, and T7 at WM Phoenix Open. OK so one miss out of seven isn’t too shabby. We featured Spieth in our Fantasy Golf Crystal Ball article at the start of the season as one of the players we expected to break through with a big season and we were correct. This kid is the real deal and has made us a lot of money. He likes playing in Texas and we expect him to put up another Top 10 this week. He ranks 8th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green, 5th in Stokes Gained Putting, and 2nd in Total Strokes Gained. For those people who have questioned the impact of the Strokes Gained statistic, need look no further than Jordan Spieth. If you have not read Fantasy Golf Insider’s in depth analysis of this statistic, we encourage you to check it out. Do Statistics Really Matter in Fantasy Golf. Spieth is the real deal and despite his lofty price on DFS, he has performed up to it in most tournaments this year. Spieth did miss the cut here last year, but we believe he is on a run right now that trumps his tournament history. (GPP, because you have to deplete the rest of your entire roster and choose guys that are very capable of missing the cut, which is a very bad thing in cash games)

Jimmy Walker- Clearly one of the best players in the field, but we have actually done extensive research on the results of previous weeks winners on the PGA tour and their performance the following week. See The Dangers of Recency Bias written by our own Zach Turcotte. There is actually a negative correlation between winning the previous week’s tournament and the players result the subsequent week. His price has thus gone up, but with Henrik Stenson withdrawing, Walker along with Spieth become clearly the best players this week. He currently ranks 21st in Greens in Regulation, 12th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green, and 4th in Total Strokes Gained. Walker does not have a sparkling resume here with a 24th last year, 50th in 2013, 71st in 2012, 30th in 2011, and 73rd in 2010. We like him in the Yahoo contest and in other season long formats. If you are playing DFS and you have multiple teams, roster him on one or two of them, but elect to go with a more balanced approach on others or if you only have one DFS lineup. (GPP, for the same reason as Spieth)


Top Value Picks:


Ryan Moore- It might be frustrating if you roster Ryan Moore in a GPP and need him to close out a tournament strong for you to take down the big money because he has shown the propensity to crap down his leg on many occasions coming down the stretch. However, overall his finishes have been very good this season with a 5th at Valspar, T9 at WGC Cadillac, T22 at Northern Trust, and T17 at WM Phoenix Open. He ranks 17th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and Total Stokes Gained. He has only played the Houston Open a few times and has a MC in 2012 and an 11th in 2009. If he leads the tournament coming into Sunday and you need him to stay there in order for you to win a large GPP, don’t say we didn’t warn you. (GPP)

Lee Westwood- We are just really liking everything about Lee Westwood right now, which is weird because we faded him just about all of last season and we were correct. This season is different however as Westwood has found something in his game. Westwood sits atop our proprietary ranking system, Who’s Hot as he absolutely dominated on the European Tour over the past several months. During that time he had a T5 at the Malaysian Open, T9 at the Omega Dubai Classic, and won the Thailand Open. Since coming over to the PGA Tour, Westwood has a T17 at Valspar, T12 at the WGC Cadillac, and a T25 at Honda. He currently ranks 22nd in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and 9th in Total Strokes Gained. But we saved the best for last, his tournament history.17th last year, 10th in 2013, 21st in 2012, 30th in 2011, 8th in 2010, and 11th in 2009. We like Lee a lot this week and a little heads up for those of you thinking about the Masters already, we like him there as well. (Cash & GPP)

J.B Holmes- If J.B Holmes screwed you over in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, raise your hand. Wow half of the people reading this preview just raised their hand, including us. But as we have preached many times, if nothing is fundamentally wrong with a player’s game and it is just one bad performance let it go. Capitalize on others banishing them from their rosters because of how bad they screwed them the previous tournament. Before the Arnold Palmer, Holmes had been playing lights out with a runner up at the WGC Cadillac, T22 at Northern Trust, T10 at Pebble Beach, and runner up at Farmers. Holmes currently ranks 9th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green, 24th in Total Strokes Gained, and 11thin Driving Distance. He has also enjoyed some success in this tournament with a 12th last year, an 8th in 2012, 42nd in 2011, and runner up in 2009. Let go of the Arnold Palmer and how much money J.B. cost you and let him make it up to you with a great finish in Houston. (Mostly GPP)

Brendon Steele- For several weeks now Steele has been knocking on the doorstep of winning a tournament and one of these weeks he is going to. He has made the cut in all 11 of the events he has played this year, with 5 Top 25s and 2 Top 10s, including an T8 last week at Valero. He has played tough courses well and he has played easy courses well. He currently ranks 10th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and 16th in Total Strokes Gained. He also ranks 13th in driving distance and 49h in Greens in Regulation. His tournament history here is not good as he has missed the cut two of the past three years. This is one of those cases where we disregard tournament history because he is clearly a different player than in the past. We like when guys are “in the zone” and Steele clearly is there right now so we are going to ride him. (Cash & GPP)

Matt Jones- We kind of wish Matt Jones was not the defending champ in this tournament, because it is going to bring a lot of attention to him and he will not be under owned. Jones has been playing extremely well lately with a T26 last week at Valero, 3rd at Arnold Palmer, T14 at Northern Trust, and T7 at Pebble Beach. In addition to his win last year, he had a 38th in 2013. He doesn’t stand out in any statistical category, as he ranks 40th in Total Strokes Gained and 24th in Strokes Gained Putting. Matt Jones is more along the lines of Matt Every following up his win at Arnold Palmer as opposed to Steven Bowditch last week at Valero. (GPP)

Shawn Stefani- A guy that is consistently in the Top 30, Stefani is a great option for cash games in DFS as he has made 10 of 12 cuts, and also a good GPP play as he has 2 Top 10s, including a runner up at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Over his last three tournaments he has a T26 last week at Valero, T21 at Arnold Palmer, and T17 at Valspar.He ranks 18th in Greens in Regulation, 61st in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green, and 44th in Total Strokes Gained. Last year he finished 5th in this tournament so we are expecting a real good performance this week for Stefani. (Cash & GPP)


Top Sleeper Picks:


Danny Willett- A bit of a boom or bust player, at the very least he should fly under most people’s radar this week, which would make him a great GPP option. Since coming over to the PGA tour he has a T29 at Arnold Palmer and T12 at the WGC Cadillac. Before that however he had some big-time performances on the European Tour including a T13 at Omega Dubai, T4 at Alfred Dunhill, a T4 at Turkish Airlines, and Championship at Nedbank. Those are credentials that look good for a guy at his price in DFS this week. Also keep in mind he has some flop performances as well this year, so take the good with the bad. He does not have any tournament history here which is a negative. For his price and the fact that he will be lowly owned in DFS makes him a guy we like. (GPP only)

Brendon De Jonge- Outside of his ugly missed cut last week at Valero (keep in mind he shot an 83 day 1 in the bad winds which took away a remote chance he would make the cut), we cannot figure out why De Jonge is priced so cheap in DFS. Before last week he had a T33 at Valspar, T10 in Puerto Rico, T25 at Honda, MC at Northern Trust, T27 at Farmers, T26 at WM Phoenix Open. He has a decent tournament history here as well with a 37th, 10th, 42nd, MC, and 35th. HE ranks 38th in Greens in Regulation and 56th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green. On Draftkings he is listed at $6,300, which is ridiculous for him and a screaming value. Again he is a guy that probably burned a lot of people last week and thus will be under-owned. Like the old adage says Buy Low/Sell High and De Jonge is low right now so go ahead and buy. (Cash & GPP)

Brian Davis- Warning, this is a highly speculative play and those who do one lineup in DFS per week should probably stay away. For those of you who do multiple lineups per week and want to take a shot on a low priced player in DFS who will be under-owned listen up. Davis has three Top 15s in this tournament in his last six appearances including two Top 10s in two of his last three. (6th in 2013 and 4th in 2012). Overall his ball striking stinks, although he does rank 51st in driving accuracy. He also ranks 50th in strokes gained putting. Davis had a T50 last week at Valero and actually had a T10 three weeks ago at Valspar. If you are building a Studs and Scrubs team and looking for a long shot to make the cut with a possibility of jumping up into the Top 40, Davis might be a good option. (GPP only)

Sam Saunders- Everything lined up for Saunders in his last appearance including the fact that he had played his grandfather’s course so much in his life, so we recommended him and he paid off nicely for us. His last three tournaments he has a T29 at Arnold Palmer, T24 at Valspar, and a T2 at Puerto Rico. It is tough to tell whether Saunders is ready to become a consistent factor on tour, but his price on DFS is considering him a real scrub. If he can continue on his streak of Top 30s he will easily pay off his price in DFS. (GPP only)


Deep Sleeper:


Stewart Cink- We cannot remember a time that we have ever recommended Cink, but there is a first time for everything. He has played in this event four times, including the last three years and has a 58th, 6th, and a MC in those appearances. His current form is about what you would expect with a MC at Arnold Palmer, T60 at Valspar, T31 at Honda, MC at Farmers, and T59 at WM Phoenix Open. Cink ranks 87th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and 96th in Total Strokes Gained which is not very appealing, but what does stand out to us is that he is 2nd on the PGA Tour in Greens in Regulation, which is extremely important this week as we talked about earlier. Cink should be light on ownership this week and should be considered when building GPP lineups in DFS. (GPP only)


As always, best of luck to you this week and let us know how you do.

All the best!

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff March 12, 2015 21:04

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