This week marks the second-to-last event of the PGA TOUR’s fall swing. The Cadence Bank Houston Open has undergone a few name changes — and a venue switch — over the last couple of years but has remained a regular stop on the PGA TOUR. This event used to be played right before the Masters, but for the fourth year in a row, it will take place late on the fall schedule. This will also be the third year in a row that it’s contested at Memorial Park Golf Course.
The field this week is comprised of 132 players and features just nine of the world’s top 50 players (as of writing). As of now, world No. 2 Scottie Scheffler is the favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook at +550, with Sam Burns (+1200), Tony Finau (+1600) and Aaron Wise (+1600) rounding out the rest of the top four. This week will also see Hideki Matsuyama in action and last week’s winner Russell Henley (who is now at No. 33 in the OWGR) in the field.
Memorial Park Golf Course — Houston, Texas
par 70, 7,412 yards; Greens: Bermuda
This year marks the third year in a row the Houston Open will be played at Memorial Park Golf Course, a public links course that was recently renovated by the city of Houston and once hosted this same event for a time, back in 1963.
The redesign of this course was completed in 2019 by Tom Doak, who brought in PGA TOUR pro Brooks Koepka as an advisor. The venue is a parkland course but was modified significantly from its old layout. Water is in play on four holes, and natural hazards like ravines come into play throughout the venue. Elevation changes to the greens and fairways also occurred, while the redesign also decided to eliminate much of the sand that was on the course, as only 19 bunkers are in play now. Memorial Park was also given a variety of new tee boxes, allowing the course to play at various lengths, including an ultra-long setting for the pros. The course now plays as a par 70, and at over 7,400 yards is actually one of the longest par 70s the pros will see all season.
In 2020, this venue played as the 12th-toughest on the PGA TOUR, and the field here had a tough time with just about everything. Driving accuracy particularly was down vs. the PGA TOUR average, as players hit about seven to eight percent less fairways than usual. This did play as a driver-heavy course, though, as Driving Distance for the week was over 295 yards and well above the PGA TOUR average. Scrambling around these greens also proved difficult, and it’s worth mentioning Carlos Ortiz gained +6.1 strokes Around the Green on his way to winning in 2020. Last year, Jason Kokrak leaned more heavily on his ball-striking as he gained 6.1 strokes on approach and also gained a very impressive 8.7 strokes putting.
A solid comparison for this week may be Copperhead at the Innisbrook Golf Resort, the host of the Valspar Championship in March. Both Memorial and Copperhead feature five par 3s and three par 5s, and feature harder to hit fairways and greens, strewn around a tree-lined flatter course. We’ve also seen a lot of the same names pop up at both venues as Sam Burns and Jason Kokrak (2021 winner of this event) have both recently posted top-10 finishes at these courses. Both courses also put a lot of stress on long iron play and this week there will be six par 4s at Memorial Park which run over 450 yards in length, requiring lots of approaches from 175+ yards.
Players at Memorial Park will also need to take advantage of the par 5s, which typically have run as the easiest holes on the course. Consistent driving and good long iron play then will be the recipe for grabbing birdies there and also for avoiding bogies on the tougher holes.
2022 Weather Update: The weather this week looks set to take a pretty drastic change over the weekend. While the first two days have highs in the 75 degree F range, both Saturday and Sunday have highs hovering in the 55-60 degrees F range and winds that will be up towards 10-12 mph. For stacking purposes, Friday afternoon has a slightly higher wind speed forecast and could be the wave to fade at the moment, especially in case some of the poor weather decides to move in a little quicker than forecasted. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s something to keep an eye on as we head into lock Thursday morning. Expect the colder weather to have the course playing longer than usual and put a bigger emphasis on consistent ball-striking and around the green play.
Last 5 winners
**Tournament was played at the Golf Club of Houston prior to 2020
2021—Jason Kokrak -10 (over Scottie Scheffler -8)
2020—Carlos Ortiz -13 (over Hideki Matsuyama -11)
2019—Lanto Griffin -14 (Mark Hubbard -13)
2018—Ian Poulter -19 (over Beau Hossler playoff)
2017—Russell Henley -20 (over Sung Kang -17)
Past Winner Stats and Trends
2021—Jason Kokrak (10-under-par)
Previous five starts coming into 2021 (T54-MC-T11-T15-MC)
SG: OTT — +2.2
SG: APP — +6.4
SG: TTG — +4.7
SG: ATG — -3.9
SG: PUTT — +8.7
- Much like the 2019 winner of this event (Lanto Griffin), Carlos Ortiz had already played five times on the fall swing before his win here. Competitive sharpness tends to pay off for players, and that’s been the case for two of the last three winners of this event.
- Ortiz was gaining strokes around the green and on approach prior to his win here, and then just rode the hot variance with his putter the week of his win. He didn't have great recent results prior, but his play was better than his results indicated.
- Kokrak was a bit of an anomaly in that he had little to no fall results prior to his win at Memorial Park. This venue does set up well for his skill set as he’s someone who typically gains multiple strokes off the tee due to his length. That part of his game set him up well to use his newly found putting prowess at this event last year.
- Five of the top-10 finishers in 2020 ranked in the top eight for strokes gained: tee-to-green stats for the week, and five of the top-six finishers gained +1.5 strokes or more around the green.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Russell Henley +2500 and $10,000
- Hideki Matsuyama +2200 and $10,300
- Taylor Montgomery +2000 and $9,700
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
1. Taylor Montgomery ($9,700; T10-T11): Montgomery has had a spectacular start to his PGA TOUR career. The rookie has finished T15 or better in each of his five fall series starts and has put himself in an excellent spot in the FedEx Cup race for the new year. He’s ranked top 10 in strokes gained OTT and ATG stats over the last 30 rounds and sets up well stylistically for this venue.
2. Maverick McNealy ($9,400; T10-T13): McNealy has also had a hot fall. In his last four starts, he’s now finished T18 or better and has been lighting it up with the putter, to the point where he’s now ranked second in strokes gained putting over the last 24 rounds. He’s also finished top 20 at this event three years running.
3. Joel Dahmen ($9,000; T3-T16): Dahmen had a great weekend over in Mexico shooting rounds of 66 and 65 to end his event. After a missed cut to start his fall, he’s been on fire with his iron play of late, and if his putter catches up with the rest of his game, he’s a player who looks like he could challenge for a win soon.
4. Jason Day ($9,500; T21-T11): The Day comeback keeps chugging along, as the Aussie was able to overcome a horrendous start and shoot 16-under par over his last three rounds to finish in T21 for the week in Mexico. Day again showcased great ball-striking ranking 15th in driving accuracy in Mexico. He finished T7 at Memorial Park in 2020.
5. Aaron Wise ($9,900; T15-T6): Wise is starting to heat up after another top-15 finish in Mexico. He ended last week with a 64 and ranks 10th in strokes gained tee to green stats and approach stats over the last 50 rounds.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Put your Trust in Tony
There’s nothing wrong with paying up for Scottie Scheffler ($11,500) this week, but we can get a lot of savings by starting lineups with Tony Finau ($10,400) instead, a player who seemingly sets up perfectly for a longer par 70. Finau’s missed cut last week won’t have gained him many fans, but he does rank out first in strokes gained tee to green stats over the last 50 rounds (in front of Scheffler) and has found plenty of success in Texas before, landing multiple top-5 finishes at both Colonial and TPC San Antonio over his career. Underneath him, the price on the consistent Adam Hadwin ($8,300) also seems worth taking on in this format, especially given how well he’s putted of late. His only win came on a similar course in Copperhead and he’s also found good results at other Texas stops. Other values for this format to look at include Brendan Steele ($7,200) and Greyson Sigg ($7,400).
Tournaments: Work in Woodland
Looking downwards for lower-owned plays this week will help differentiate lineups and with a harder course in play we should be willing to take some chances on a player like Gary Woodland ($7,000), who has struggled immensely with his putting and around the green game of late — but still ranks out top 20 in longer term tee to green stats. Woodland finished T6 at the Valero Texas Open earlier in 2022 and should be well rested after taking the last two weeks off. Luke List ($7,300 - see below) is a similar styled player who sets up well for Memorial Park and I also like the low-ownership we’re likely to get on Stephan Jaeger ($7,100), who has the kind of short game that is extremely valuable on a tougher setup. Jaeger ranks 13th in strokes gained tee to green stats over the last 50 rounds and gained 3.7 strokes ATG at this venue last season.
MY PICK: Sahith Theegala ($9,300)
In his short time as a pro, Theegala has shown the ability to handle some of the tougher venues on the PGA TOUR extremely well. He posted T5 and T7 finishes at both Muirfield Village (Memorial) and Copperhead (Valspar) earlier in 2022, and was able to carve out a 10-under par weekend at the tricky Narashino Golf Club over in Japan a few weeks ago — where he finished T6. While he’s coming off a terrible start at the CJ Cup (T67), many of the players who were in contention the week prior in Japan had poor weeks at that event, and this week he’ll be coming into Texas off two full weeks of rest.
Theegala’s start in Houston only yielded a T61 finish last fall but he did gain over 4.5 strokes on approach for the week, and it’s noteworthy that the second-year player clearly preferred to come into this week’s venue rested, rather than play last week in Mexico. A resilient player with a solid tee to green game, Theegala sets up well for the tougher conditions in store for this week and looks like a great low-sentiment, high-upside play for use in bigger field tournaments on DraftKings.
MY SLEEPER: Luke List ($7,300)
This venue is a perfect spot for List to pop-up and post a high result on the fall swing. Despite slumping over the late summer and early fall, the 2022 Farmers Insurance winner is still ranked sixth in strokes gained off the tee stats and fifth in overall ball-striking stats over the last 50 rounds of play. Most of List’s issues have stemmed from the putter, which isn’t rare for him, but that’s a club that can turn quickly for any PGA TOUR pro, and has for List in the past.
List did grind his way to a made cut at the Sanderson Farms and has now got eight competitive rounds under his belt over the last month, thanks to a couple of no-cut event starts. His around the green game — which was a big part of his success last winter — has also started to come back around and he’s gained over 1.0 strokes ATG in each of his last two measured starts as well. With cold weather on tap, List’s length off the tee and accuracy with his long irons (he’s 14th in proximity from >200 yards) make him an ideal fit stylistically for the longer Memorial Park. Chancing him as a tournament target this week makes plenty of sense in DFS and he’s a solid bet at +330 in the top 20 market on the DraftKings Sportsbook as well.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.