Weekly Preview: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open

Weekly Preview: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open

Memorial Park Golf Course
Houston, TX

The PGA Tour heads to Texas for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open. Is it just me, or do the names of these fall events get longer every year? 

Anyhow, after having a relatively star-studded field last week, we are back to a fairly standard list of golfers for a November tournament. There are a couple big names, but the depth of the field takes a bit of a hit compared to this past week. 

Speaking of, Viktor Hovland successfully defended his title at Mayakoba – a natural step in the progression to greatness. Not winning that tournament in particular, but successfully defending at any event. It's not easy to go back-to-back. There's much more to deal with than usual, so having the ability to put that aside – especially when you are expected to play well again and wind up not only winning, but doing so against some stiff competition – well, that's a sign that Hovland is not content with being just good. He wants to be great and he's well on his way. 

There is player of similar stature in the field this week, and that's Sam Burns, whose rise has come fast and furious. Burns might be a bit behind Hovland's timeline at the moment, but wait until you see where he lands on this week's odds chart.

LAST YEAR

Carlos Ortiz shot a final-round 65 on his way to a two-stroke victory over

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open

Memorial Park Golf Course
Houston, TX

The PGA Tour heads to Texas for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open. Is it just me, or do the names of these fall events get longer every year? 

Anyhow, after having a relatively star-studded field last week, we are back to a fairly standard list of golfers for a November tournament. There are a couple big names, but the depth of the field takes a bit of a hit compared to this past week. 

Speaking of, Viktor Hovland successfully defended his title at Mayakoba – a natural step in the progression to greatness. Not winning that tournament in particular, but successfully defending at any event. It's not easy to go back-to-back. There's much more to deal with than usual, so having the ability to put that aside – especially when you are expected to play well again and wind up not only winning, but doing so against some stiff competition – well, that's a sign that Hovland is not content with being just good. He wants to be great and he's well on his way. 

There is player of similar stature in the field this week, and that's Sam Burns, whose rise has come fast and furious. Burns might be a bit behind Hovland's timeline at the moment, but wait until you see where he lands on this week's odds chart.

LAST YEAR

Carlos Ortiz shot a final-round 65 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama.

FAVORITES

Sam Burns (16-1)

Look at that, I spoiled the surprise right out of the gate. In the past year, Burns has gone from a guy with potential to a potential superstar on the PGA Tour. The signs were there for Burns heading into last season, but I'm not sure many expected what he's done since, which is win $6.9 million. He's now the favorite in an event that has some pretty big names, and deservedly so. What he does in this position will also reveal more of what's to come. I think he's ready for this role.

Scottie Scheffler (18-1)

It's not that Scheffler's record to date is a letdown, but many expected him to be in the spot Burns is right now. Scheffler appears to have all the tools to be a great PGA Tour player, but he needs to start racking up the wins now. Actually, he needs to start with one win, then see what happens from there. Scheffler is in a good spot this week, as he's coming in off a T4. He's played well enough here in two starts to think that he can make a run.

Sungjae Im (20-1)

This will be only Im's fourth appearance this season, so it looks like he might be slowing down in his old age – of 23. Seriously, this guy is a machine. Not only is he playing almost every week, he's also playing well. In his three starts since the new schedule began, he has recorded a win and a T9. His track record in this tournament is not strong, but since it is being played on a course that has only been utilized since last year, it doesn't really matter how he played here prior. Im's game is as good as anyone's right now, and if his name carried more weight with the betting public, he'd be at least ahead of Scheffler on the board.

THE NEXT TIER

Matthew Wolff (25-1)

Wolff shot out of a cannon this past week at Mayakoba with a first-round 61. He couldn't sustain that momentum throughout the weekend. but he still finished fifth on the heels of a second-place result the week before. That's a good sign for Wolff, who is one of the streakiest players on Tour. Wolff went through a lot of ups and downs this past season, but it's been all ups since the new one began. Strike while the iron is hot.

Talor Gooch (30-1)

Gooch is not a name that all golf fans are familiar with, but he's a solid young player who looks to be making a leap. Gooch has earned more money than the season before in each campaign since he was a rookie in 2017-18, and he's on pace to improve again in his fifth season. Gooch has finished top-11 or better in all four of his starts this fall, and while a win would be a big jump, he's certainly trending in the right direction.

Aaron Wise (30-1)

Wise hasn't finished outside the top 30 since August! Okay, so it's only been six events, but that's still pretty impressive. He finished T11 here last year, so he has a history of success on this course. Wise hasn't won on the PGA Tour in three years, but he has found himself in the winner's circle, so he knows how to do it. After two subpar years, he's on his way back to his 2018 form.

LONG SHOTS

Erik van Rooyen (50-1)

I'm a sucker for line movements, and for some reason, money has come in early on van Rooyen. I shouldn't say, "for some reason," though, as van Rooyen proved at the end of last season that he has plenty of game. Still, I'm trying to figure out, why this week? The only thing I came up with was his top-20 here last year. As for current form, he hasn't played for a few weeks, so it's hard to tell.

Brian Harman (100-1)

With all the success Harman has had in his PGA Tour career, it's amazing that he's only won twice, and not since 2017. Harman is coming off a nice season in which he earned over $3 million, but he's started a bit slow. He missed the cut in his most recent start, but he actually fared well in that position last season, rebounding with a top-30 or better each of the three times he did not play the previous weekend.

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Sungjae Im - I still get the feeling not everyone is sold on Burns yet – especially as a favorite. While the betting public doesn't see Im as the favorite, I think he's the best play in this spot. He is going to play at least 30 more events this season, so there will be plenty of opportunities. However, there are only two guys ahead of him on the odds chart, and one of them does not have a PGA Tour win.

Moderately-owned Pick: Matthew Wolff - Fantasy players are well aware how hot-and-cold Wolff can run, so when he got off to a blazing start this past week, the secret was out – he's running hot. He'll be popular this week, but it's so early in the season that you shouldn't avoid using him only for that reason.

Lightly-owned Pick: Talor Gooch - Gooch is a solid play, but as mentioned earlier, he's not on everyone's radar quite yet. If he keeps up his current form, he will be well-known soon. As it is, he will probably be overlooked again, which means he will be a solid sleeper option.

Buyer Beware: Brooks Koepka - Has a better player ever been faded to this degree? It's always a good idea to use caution with Koepka during a non-major, and particularly in this spot. In his three starts this season, Koepka has yet to even crack the top 30. He's also coming in off a missed cut at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. (Remember what I said about the names?)

Last Week: Abraham Ancer - T7 - $218,700

Season Total: $2,407,194

This Week: Sungjae Im - I mentioned that Im is the best play, so let's hop on board. I always say get a golfer at his best odds, and although 20-1 isn't exactly low, it might be the best we see for Im in a while barring an appearance in an extremely-light field.

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Sungjae Im $11,900
Middle Range: Aaron Wise $10,700
Lower Range: Brian Harman $8,900

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

Last Week: Abraham Ancer - T7

Streak: 4

This Week: Sungjae Im - Have I ever mentioned the double-up strategy? Seriously, it's worked four weeks in a row, so why stop now? Besides, this isn't an event with a long track record on this course, so there aren't going to be any guys that have made the cut here 10 times out of 10. Go with the hot hand.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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