Four of the world’s top-10 golfers travel to the Golf Club of Houston for the Shell Houston Open and their final opportunity to fine-tune their games before the Masters next week.
Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score), Driving Distance (DD), Greens in Regulation (GIR), Adjusted Birdies Per Tournament (Adj Bird Avg), and Adjusted Par 5 Strokes (Adj P5) are the metrics we will concentrate on this week.
Last year’s tournament was won by “The Hermanator” Jim Herman ($7,400), who is back to defend his title. With the victory he became the third golfer in four years to earn a spot at Augusta with a win at the Shell.
Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose
With Dustin Johnson‘s withdrawal, local Texan Jordan Spieth ($12,000) owns the highest odds to win (13.3 percent) this week. Spieth finished as the runner-up in a playoff in 2015 and was 13th last year. Prior tries here were not so kind: He missed the cut in 2014 and finished 50th in 2013. In the six tournaments Spieth has played in 2017 he has a win, two third-place finishes, and a ninth-place finish. He’s been no worse than 22nd this year, finishing 12th his last time out at the Mexico Championship.
Spieth’s 68.0 LT Adj Rd Score and 171 LT Adj Bird Avg both rank first among golfers who have played more than two events in the past 75 weeks, and his -6.0 LT Adj P5 is second overall. Our Player Models currently have Spieth projected at 17 to 20 percent ownership in large-field guaranteed prize pools. Shortly after contests lock, Pro subscribers can track Spieth’s (and all other golfers’) ownership across multiple contests and buy-in levels via our DFS Ownership Dashboard.
Jon Rahm ($10,700) is on a bit of a heater: He has registered a win, two top-five finishes, and a 16th-place finish in his four most recent stroke-play tournaments. Rahm battled back valiantly against Johnson in last week’s WGC-Match Play final after seemingly forgetting how to putt on the first nine holes. Rahm will make his tournament debut at this week’s Shell Houston Open, where he’s second overall with 8.3 percent odds to win.
Rahm’s 68.4 LT Adj Rd Score is tied for third, his 70.2 percent LT GIR is 13th, his 305.7-yard LT DD is eighth, and his 17.0 LT Adj Bird Avg is second only to Spieth’s. The only question with the young Spaniard is whether he has the mental fortitude to bounce back after his emotional final match with DJ on Sunday. Per our Trends tool, golfers with comparable salaries and LT metrics have produced a +6.04 DraftKings Plus/Minus with 60.9 percent Consistency:
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
Henrik Stenson ($10,400): Withdrawal is always a concern with Henrik, and that’s a heightened concern the week before a major. If he’s two-over par after 10 holes on Thursday it would’t shock me to see Stenson head to Augusta early. That said, his metrics make him a great play: His 68.1 LT Adj Rd Score and 74.3 LT GIR percentage are both second, his 16.7 LT Adj Bird Avg is third, and his -6.1 LT P5 leads the field. Stenson has not missed a cut at Houston in five attempts and has two runner-up finishes here, one of which was last year.
Justin Rose: ($9,700): Rose’s best performance at Houston is a 14th-place finish in 2010, but he sat out of the Match Play event last week to be rested for this tournament and next week’s Masters. His 68.4 LT Adj Rd Score is tied for third, his 69.2 percent LT GIRis 23rd, his 302.6-yard LT DD is 14th, and his 15.0 LT Adj Bird Avg is tied for eighth.
Adam Scott ($9,400): Scott won this event back in 2007 before some of you even had your driver’s licenses, but he hasn’t played this event since 2010. His 68.5 LT Adj Rd Score ranks sixth, his 70.6 LT GIR percentage is 10th, his 305.3-yard LT DD is 11th, and his 15.6 LT Adj Bird Avg is fourth overall. He opened his 2017 PGA Tour season with back-to-back top-15 finishes but was 45th his last time out at the Mexico Championship.
Russell Henley ($8,700): Nearly this week’s Levitanimal, Henley has dominated this course since 2014 with no finish worse than seventh in three starts. Henley has looked sharp recently: His 68.6 Recent Adj Rd Score ranks 16th, and his 15.0 Recent Adj Bird Avg is 14th among golfers with more than one start in the past six weeks. He’s got some added motivation as well: Henley needs a win to play in the Masters.
Lucas Glover ($8,300): Glover’s 69.2 LT Adj Rd Score ranks 15th, his 71.3 LT GIR percentage is seventh, and his 13.3 LT Adj Bird Avg is 23rd in this field. Glover has not missed a cut since last October’s Safeway Open, but his history at this track is not good: He has missed the cut in four of his last five attempts. Glover also needs a win if he plans on teeing it up at Augusta next week.
Patrick Reed ($7,700): Reed hasn’t been great this year, but he has played well in Houston previously, finishing 10th in 2016. Reed’s 69.0 LT Adj Rd Score is tied for 10th, and his 15.2 LT Adj Bird Avg is sixth.
Tony Finau ($7,100): Finau’s 69.5 LT Adj Rd Score is tied for 19th, his 310.2-yard LT DD ranks fourth, and his 14.0 Recent Adj Bird Avg is 14th among golfers with at least three starts in the past six weeks. Finau finished fifth earlier this month at the Valspar Championship. Like Henley and Glover, Finau needs a win this week to play at Augusta.
JT Poston ($6,600): Poston — priced $2,000 higher last week — did not disappoint with a 10th-place finish and 91.0 DraftKings points at the Puerto Rico Open. His 70.5 LT GIR percentage ranks 12th, and his 15.1 LT Adj Bird Avg is eighth. He has three top-20 finishes in his last four starts on the PGA Tour.
Adam Levitan created a course history model, which I’ve modified slightly. Your grandfather’s favorite golfer — Phil Mickelson ($8,900) — is the model’s top golfer and this week’s Levitanimal. Phil won this event in 2011 and has finished no worse than 17th in his five starts since that victory. Mickelson’s 68.4 LT Adj Rd Score is tied for third, his 15.0 LT Adj Bird Avg is tied for ninth, and his -5.1 Adj P5 is tied for fifth in this field.
Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeef! The only way the Masters could be better is if Andrew “Beef” Johnston ($6,600) were there — and he needs a win this week to make that happen. Beef drained 21 birdies last week on his way to 96.0 DK points and a 10th place finish at the Puerto Rico Open. Johnston’s 299.6-yard LT DD is 23rd, his 70.7 LT GIR percentage is eighth, and his 13.6 LT Adj Bird Avg is tied for 24th in this field. I’ve got some Coors Lites on Beef this week.
Good luck this week!