This week’s Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston marks the last PGA Tour event in the U.S. until the end of November at the RSM Classic.
After this week, the Tour heads to Asia for a three-tournament stretch, before stopping in Mexico on the way back for the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
But for now, the focus is on the Lone Star State. The Houston Open typically had a mid-spring date and, from 2007-2018, was played the week before the Masters. But even now that it’s being played six months later than usual, temperatures will be about the same as they are in April. Will the course play any different?
One caddie told us, actually, yes it will play quite different.
“There’s a lot more rough than what we were used to the week before the Masters,” the caddie told us. “The course will probably play easier from around the greens. It was hard to get up and down with everything mown down so tight. Almost every play around the green was a bump and run, which is hard on Bermuda grass. But now, with rough around the green, players can be more aggressive than they were in April. The ball isn’t going to race by the hole like it did in the spring, which will entice guys to fire at more pins.”
Henrik Stenson, Russell Henley and Keegan Bradley headline the field this week.
So which players should you be watching closely this week in Houston?
To help answer that question, we reached out to three experts – the people who walk alongside the players inside the ropes each week – the caddies.
Each caddie – anonymously – provided a pick to win, a darkhorse pick (darkhorses must be outside the top-50 in the Official World Golf Ranking) and a player to finish inside the top 10.
Winning Pick: Pat Perez
Why: Finished third last week in Vegas. Snuck in on the 125 number last year and knows he is a better player than that. Look for him to want to improve on the results of last season and he has a hot hand right now.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Pat Perez withdrew before teeing off on Thursday — but after our picks were turned in — citing a wrist injury.
Darkhorse Pick: Denny McCarthy
Why: Comes into this week in very good form. Made a late double bogey by being aggressive on 17 last week and dropped himself from top 5 to T9 in Vegas, but you’ve got to like him trying to make birdie and potentially get in a playoff instead of shying away from it. Great putter who will love the greens at Golf Club of Houston.
Top-10 finisher: Russell Knox
Why: One of the highest-ranked players in the field as far as world ranking goes. Played well in Vegas until a poor final round dropped him back in the pack. He is a world-class player who hasn’t played up to his potential recently and I look for him to make a jump this season.
Winning Pick: Henrik Stenson
Why: There aren’t many courses I wouldn’t want to take this man on, but I’d especially fear him at the Golf Club of Houston — a ball striker’s paradise that can play windy and lengthy.
Darkhorse Pick: Harris English
Why: Harris is showing a recent resurgence with two, top 10s in three starts. No reason for it to end here.
Top-10 finisher: Scottie Scheffler
Why: It’s not exactly home for the Dallas native, but it is within the correct state boundaries. Scottie has a top 10 already and is starting his rookie campaign as expected.
Winning Pick: Russell Henley
Why: Russell is a past champion of the event, having won in 2017 and just always seems to play well here. He’s playing very solid coming in — having not missed a cut in his last seven starts dating back to the John Deere Classic in July. I expect big things at a course he’s had major success on.
Darkhorse Pick: Luke List
Why: It was a solid week at the Shiners last week for Luke, posting a T13. Houston should be a perfect setup for the bomber. If the putter can heat up, look out for Luke this week.
Top-10 finisher: Keegan Bradley
Why: Keegan absolutely loves this golf course. He’s is one of the best drivers of the ball on Tour — both accurate and plenty of distance. He has a good track record here as well with four, top 15s in seven starts.