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PGA DFS Primer: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open (2022)

by Matthew MacKay | @Matt_MacKay_ | Featured Writer
Nov 10, 2021
Sam Burns

Viktor Hovland was the star of the show at Mayakoba last weekend, carding a nine-under-par finish in the third round to comfortably sit at the top of the leaderboards during Sunday. The 24-year old Norwegian has been improving each week after starting T44 at Shriners Children’s Open during his first solo event of the 2021-22 PGA Tour season.  A T18 finish at The CJ Cup @ Summit doubled his previous score at TPC Summerlin, and he pieced a fantastic performance in all three phases of the game. He was one of my top recommendations entering the World Wide Technology Championship last weekend, so I hope you paid the high salary to acquire Hovland in lineups. Matthew Wolff and Joaquin Niemann were also recommendations that fared exceptionally well at Mayakoba, as each player finished T5 (-16) albeit via different play styles. Five of the six players I recommended winded up finishing T7 or better, as Sergio Garcia and Abraham Ancer went 15-under-par to finish T7.

The PGA Tour departs from its tropical and international stops, returning to Houston, Texas, to compete in the 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course. Carlos Ortiz was the defending champion but announced a withdrawal due to a shoulder injury that he battled through to achieve a second-place finish (-19) at Mayakoba this past weekend. This leaves Sam Burns, Scottie Scheffler, Matthew Wolff, and Tony Finau among the players with the best odds to take home the winning purse. Let’s look at an overview of Memorial Park Golf Course to determine which players are appealing in lineups ahead of the 2021 Houston Open.

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Previous Winners

  • 2020 – Carlos Ortiz (-13)
  • 2019 – Lanto Griffin (-14)
  • 2018 – Ian Poulter (-19)
  • 2017 – Russell Henley (-20)
  • 2016 – Jim Herman (-15)

Course Overview

The Memorial Park Golf Course will host the HPE Houston Open for just the second time after its return to the site following several years at the Golf Club of Houston, also referred to as the Redstone Golf Club. Designed by renowned Doak Designs architect Tom Doak in 2019, the course tips at 7,418 yards as a par 70, featuring fewer bunkers and more run-off slopes to reflect a more modern approach to hazards surrounding greens. Five par 3s and three par 5s create a dynamic scorecard that allows for lead changes in many spots while prioritizing precise drivers and irons to navigate the fairways. These fairways ranked among the most challenging to hit last season. The bentgrass greens and rough create familiar putting and chipping conditions compared to the Zoysiagrass and Paspalum greens found at some of the more temperate climates in recent events.

With several holes stretching over 500 yards as Par 4s, the demand for distance off-the-tee is heightened. It also means the approach shots from the fairway and rough need to be as accurate as possible to avoid the water and sandy rough bodies that comprise the hazards on most of the holes. Since it’s only in its second year as an official course on the PGA Tour, expect a lot of players to produce underwhelming rounds as they attempt to navigate the grounds at Memorial Park. This gives a slight advantage to some of the younger competitors, who are at a more level playing field based on the lack of experience veteran players possess entering the first round on Thursday.

Relevant Betting Stats

  • Greens in Regulation (GIR) percentage
  • Driving Distance
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Birdie Average

Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

Brooks Koepka ($9,900)
The 31-year old has not had much success to start his 2022 PGA season. However, Koepka was consulted by Memorial Park GC architect Tom Doak, which resulted in fewer bunkers and more run-offs flanking the greens. Koepka is still 47th in strokes gained off-the-tee and has a monster driver, averaging 317 yards per attempt this season. This style of play will align well with the lengthy holes on display in Houston this weekend. Averaging 4.8 birdies per round is a phenomenal floor to have attached to Koepka, who is undervalued at $9,900 due to the sluggish start to his solo events. Plug Koepka in as a high-value floor play with the potential to finish near the top of the leaderboards at the HPE Houston Open this weekend.

Matthew Wolff ($10,400)
Matthew Wolff is crushing it to start the 2022 PGA season, ranked eighth in the FedExCup rankings and 31st in the Official World Golf Rankings. A big piece of why the 22-year old has found so much success is the incredible accuracy he can achieve with his irons, ranking inside the top 30 in all strokes gained categories, excluding off-the-tee. Equipped with a hot putter, a strong driver, and seemingly hitting every green in regulation at a 76 percent rate. In all three events this season, don’t expect a finish outside of the top 20, as Wolff has a T17 finish or better. Especially considering there are four players with a higher salary, Wolff is a fantastic addition to lineups at the 2021 Houston Open this weekend.

Maverick McNealy ($8,500)
The 26-year old American has looked good through five events this season, climbing to a T11 (-14) finish at Mayakoba this past weekend. He’s another player with fantastic all-around strokes gained ability, meaning he is dominant off of the fairways and off-the-tee on par 3s. He’s only missed one cut following a runner-up finish at the Fortinet Championship and has built steadily improving finishes with T38, T25, and T11 outings entering Thursday at Memorial Park GC. McNealy has a 310 yard average with his driver, which adds another appeal to plugging him into lineups. The salary is the biggest attraction, as McNealy is a salary-saving option that can also flood lineups with birdies and scrambling ability, evidenced in his early double-bogey that wound up finishing as seven-under-par during Mayakoba. McNealy is a must-add in DFS lineups this weekend.

Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $60,000

Sam Burns ($12,000)
Last week at Mayakoba, Viktor Hovland won the tournament as the most expensive player. This week, Sam Burns has a strong probability of winning at the Houston Open, as he has already won at Sanderson Farms and has had a couple of weeks off to prepare since a T5 finish at the CJ Cup @ Summit. The 25-year old American ranks third in GIR percentage and has a 6.25 birdie average per round, while he also provides good driver accuracy and distance. In 2020, Burns was a T7 finish at the Houston Open and should extend his high-end play at the challenging Memorial Park GC this weekend. So accept the price and enjoy the points in your lineups.

Max Homa ($10,000)
Max Homa has had a few weeks to rest and prepare for the Houston Open this weekend. The 30-year old American won the Fortinet Championship at 19-under-par to start the season and has the driving distance and an impressive 5.25 birdie average to warrant inserting into lineups. However, we’ve seen his volatility, which is why Homa is priced outside the top prospect territory. A T72 finish at The CJ Cup @ Summit saw him steadily decline after a strong start, so hopefully, the time off will be the recipe for Homa to return to the success he produced at the Fortinet Championship.

Jhonattan Vegas ($8,800)
One of the best salary savers entering the 2021 Houston Open has to be 37-year old Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas. His value is at an all-time high due to missing the cut at Mayakoba this past weekend, but the veteran has proven to be good in spots, finishing T14 at The CJ Cup @ Summit before poor outings in his recent events. Vegas has excellent irons, ranking 22ns or better in strokes gained off-the-tee and tee-to-green, which bodes well for his relative success at Memorial Park GC this weekend. A powerful driver that averages 319.6 yards per attempt is another reason to grab Vegas and place him into lineups. He has a high ceiling contrasted with a low floor, depending on whether or not he can lean into his driver and irons to overcome a shaky putting game.

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Whether you’re new to daily fantasy golf or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Golf Glossary. You can get started with The Stats That Matter Most or head to a more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup  — to learn more.

Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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