The PGA Tour has been playing an event in Houston since 1946, the longest continuous streak of any city, and after a more than 60-year absence, the tournament returned to Memorial Park Golf Course last year after the layout received a facelift overseen by designer Tom Doak with some help from Tour player Brooks Koepka. Carlos Ortz is the defending champion and is coming off a second-place finish last week to Viktor Hovland, who won the World Technology Championship at Mayakoba by four shots.
This is the next to last chance in the 2021 calendar year for players to pick up some FedEx Cup points before the Tour takes a break over the holidays and returning with a pair of tournaments in Hawaii to begin 2022. Although there are 13 major champions in the field, the most recent major win among the large group was Shane Lowry’s 2019 victory in the Open Championship.
FedEx Cup points leader Sam Burns leads the field and already has a victory in the Sanderson Farms Championship and is coming off a tie for fifth at the CJ Cup @ Summit in his most recent start. Almost the top six from last week are also playing in Houston, with fourth place Scottie Scheffler and fifth-place finishers Matthew Wolff and Joaquin Niemann joining Ortiz.
Memorial Park is a par 70 layout that plays at 7,412 yards, and Ortiz defeated Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama by two shots in 2020 with a score of 13 under par 267. Talor Gooch, who played in the final group last week but faded to an 11th place tie after a closing 74, finished in fourth place last year and was followed closely by Koepka and Sepp Straka in a tie for fifth, with Burns tied with Jason Day, Tyrell Hatton and Mackenzie Hughes to round out the top ten with all of them except Johnson and Matsuyama back in the 2021 field.
Burns is the favorite at +1200, with Scheffler at +1800 searching for his first Tour victory, along with Australian Cameron Smith, who last won a stroke play tournament at the 2020 Sony Open for the second of three Tour wins. Sungjae Im has odds of 2000, with Gooch also looking for his initial Tour win at +2200 followed by Tony Finau and Matthew Wolff with odds of +2500.
Koepka and former Masters champion Adam Scott round out the top 10 with odds of +2800. Several other prominent players are not far behind, with Ortiz at +3500, Shane Lowry at +4000, and Patrick Reed at very favorable odds of +4500. Former major champions farther down the list include Gary Woodland at +9000, Jason Day with odds of +10000, and Stewart Cink at +13000.
Underdog Betting Picks
Reed is a Houston resident, so that he might enjoy somewhat of home-field advantage and, with those long odds, could end up providing a nice payday if he can get his game back in the shape that produced a win at the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year.
Austrian Sepp Straka is playing in his seventh event of 2021-2022 already, and after missing his first three cuts, he has improved his position each start and is coming off a tie for 33rd last week in Mexico. At +15000, he is worth a shot after his top five performance from the previous year.
Joaquin Niemann has cut each of his four starts and had an impressive top-five finish last week. His odds to pick up his second Tour victory are +3000, putting the 23-year-old Chilean in underdog status just outside the top ten on the list.