Horses for Courses: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open

Last year Memorial Park Golf Course was preparing 132 players for the first-ever fall Masters Tournament. After Tom Doak completed his 2019 renovation this became the first time this municipal track hosted a TOUR event since the early 1960s

Wild times.

Last year Carlos Ortiz won this inaugural event and then in his next start went on to finish second at Mayakoba. Last week he finished second at Mayakoba but he withdrew this week due to an injury.

Last year Dustin Johnson (not entered) and Hideki Matsuyama (not entered) finished tied for second. Johnson went on to win the Masters the following week and Matsuyama won the Masters proper the following April.

Wild, wild times.

After just one event on a new track it can be difficult to sort data so I’ve turned to Rob Bolton and his Power Rankings for this week for clues. I’ve passed along my findings so you can use them as part of your formula for cracking the Memorial Park code this week. Bolton’s analysis is the standard bearer on our field so not using his insight would be a bit daft. Plus he gave Horses for Courses a shout out last week so I’ll gladly return the favor.

Tom Doak’s redesign of Memorial Park had help from Brooks Koepka as player-consultant. The Par-70 stretches just over 7,400 yards and interestingly enough employs FIVE Par-3 holes and THREE Par-5 holes. The combination of yardage and an additional Par-5 makes sense that the leaderboard was filled with guys who could get after it last year. Mini Verde Bermuda greens are on average of 7,000 square feet making ample targets to aim for from the fairway or from the two inches of 419 Bermuda guarding them. Only 19 bunkers and two water hazards (in play on just four holes) will keep play at a decent pace on the other 51 weeks of the season. Torrey Pines is the only other municipal course used on TOUR annually.

A field of 132 returns this week to claim a piece of the $7.5 million purse and a trip to the Masters and Sentry Tournament of Champions. The winner will also pocket $1.35 million and 500 FedExCup points plus a two-year exemption.

This week I’ve provided a different angle for gamers. I’ve listed the top finishers, as usual, but I’ve also included a few stat categories from last year that might provide clues for the event this time around.

Recent Event Winners Stats

Season 2021
Year 2020
Winner Carlos Ortiz
Score 13-under
MOV 2
Runner-Up Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama
Age 29
All Drives 13
Accuracy T51
GIR T8
Ball-Striking 20
Proximity T22
Putting: Birdie or Better % T20
SG: Off-the-Tee 31
SG: Approach-the-Green 14
SG: Around-the-Green 2
SG: Putting 5
SG: Tee-to-Green 5
Scrambling 1
Bogey Avoidance T1
Par-3 Scoring T4
Par-4 Scoring T14
Par-5 Scoring T1

2020 Debut Winner

Carlos Ortiz (-13, 267)

Editor’s note: Unable to defend his title after withdrawing this week due to injury

Fired a final round 65, his best of the week, to win by two shots. … At the time became the third Mexican to win on TOUR. … One of three players to post all four rounds in the 60s. … Trailed by one after 54 holes and two after 36 holes. … Led or co-led the field in Scrambling, Bogey Avoidance and Par-5 scoring. … Cashed T35, T48 in the two events he played prior. … Claims his first TOUR victory at age 29 in his 118th start.

Notes

Only 14 bogey-free rounds for the week. … Top 37 finished in red figures. … Only three players 10-under or better. … Lowest round of the week was 63 set by Mackenzie Hughes (T7), Hideki Matsuyama (T2; not entered) and Talor Gooch (4th), all on Sunday. … Brandt Snedeker (T44) led with 65 after 18 holes. … Sam Burns (T7) led by two after 36 holes and one after 54 holes. … Cut was 3-over 143. … 71.025 scoring average.

Key stat leaders from 2020 EDITION

Strokes Gained: Tee to Green      
Player Rank   Finish
Sam Burns 1 T7
Dustin Johnson 2 T2
Harold Varner III 3 T15
Shane Lowry 4 T11
Carlos Ortiz 5 WIN
Hideki Matsuyama 6 T2
Patton Kizzire 7 T11
Jason Day 8 T7
Maverick McNealy 9 T20
Adam Long 10 T11
Talor Gooch 11 4th
Aaron Wise 12 T11
Strokes Gained: Putting      
Player Rank   Finish
Mackenzie Hughes 1 T7
Brooks Koepka 2 T5
Dawie van der Walt 3 T20
Sepp Straka 4 T5
Carlos Ortiz 5 WIN
Austin Cook 6 T24
Tyrrell Hatton 7 T7
Talor Gooch 8 4th
Doc Redman 9 T61
Hideki Matsuyama 10 T2
Russell Knox 11 T15
Erik van Rooyen 12 T20
James Hahn 13 T50
JT Poston 14 T20
Par-5 Scoring      
Player Rank   Finish
Sam Burns 1 T7
Hideki Matsuyama 1 T2
Carlos Ortiz 1 WIN
Brice Garnett 1 T50
Brandt Snedeker 5 T44
Justin Harding 5 T38
Lanto Griffin 7 T58
Aaron Wise 7 T11
Erik Barnes 7 T38
Talor Gooch 7 4th
Matt Jones 7 63
Birdies      
Player Rank Total Birdies Finish
Hideki Matsuyama 1 21 T2
Will Gordon 2 20 T38
Brooks Koepka 2 20 T5
Dustin Johnson 2 20 T2
Adam Scott 5 19 T32
Sepp Straka 6 18 T5
Mackenzie Hughes 6 18 T7
Carlos Ortiz 6 18 WIN
Viktor Hovland 9 17 T15
Scottie Scheffler 9 17 T32
Shane Lowry 9 17 T11
Cameron Tringale 9 17 T29
Jason Day 9 17 T7
Maverick McNealy 9 17 T20

Horses for Courses: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open

Player Score Tournament Finish 2020 Notes
Talor Gooch -9 4th Closed with 63, co-low round of the week; 2nd Putting
Brooks Koepka -8 T5 Closed 65-65; Player design consultant
Sepp Straka -8 T5 All 4 rounds in the 60s; T8 GIR
Sam Burns -7 T7 Led by 2 after 36; Led by 1 after 54; First 54 hole lead
Jason Day -7 T7 T5 GIR
Tyrrell Hatton -7 T7 Top 10 Putts and GIR
Mackenzie Hughes -7 T7 Closed 68-63
Adam Long -6 T11 Top 10 Fairways and GIR
Shane Lowry -6 T11 All 4 rounds in the 60s
Aaron Wise -6 T11 T1 GIR
Russell Knox -5 T15 Just 5 bogeys, 1 Double
Francesco Molinari -5 T15 T5 Putts
Michael Thompson -5 T15 T4 Fairways
Harold Varner III -5 T15 4th GIR

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2020-2021 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.

 

Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green
Rank Player
11 Brooks Koepka
13 Sergio Garcia
16 Tony Finau
18 Tyrrell Hatton
19 Shane Lowry
20 Russell Henley
21 Scottie Scheffler
23 Luke List
24 Charley Hoffman
25 Seamus Power
25 Aaron Wise
31 Jhonattan Vegas
32 Joaquin Niemann
33 Harold Varner III
35 Kyle Stanley
37 Jason Day
39 Sungjae Im
Strokes-Gained: Putting
Rank Player
2 JT Poston
3 Ian Poulter
4 Patrick Reed
5 Zach Johnson
6 Jason Kokrak
9 Sam Burns
10 Cameron Smith
11 Chesson Hadley
15 Mackenzie Hughes
16 Cameron Tringale
18 Adam Scott
22 Denny McCarthy
25 Brian Harman
27 Hank Lebioda
31 Brice Garnett
34 Lanto Griffin
Par-5 Scoring
Rank Player
1 Cameron Smith
7 Brooks Koepka
7 Sergio Garcia
7 Ryan Palmer
11 Sam Burns
13 Max Homa
13 Joaquin Niemann
13 Brian Harman
21 Scottie Scheffler
21 Carlos Ortiz
21 Luke List
21 Anirban Lahiri
28 Hank Lebioda
30 Sungjae Im
30 Vincent Whaley
35 Talor Gooch
35 Tony Finau
35 Patrick Reed
35 Kevin Tway
35 Cameron Tringale
42 Sepp Straka
42 Matthew Wolff
42 Aaron Wise
42 Seamus Power
42 Brandt Snedeker

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