Lanto Griffin won a shootout among three Korn Ferry Tour grads to capture his first career PGA Tour victory at last year’s Houston Open.
The win was a catapult toward the Tour Championship, but Griffin arrives as a +4000 longshot by BetRivers.com to successfully defend his title.
Griffin cannot be discounted. He comes off a T7 and T11 in his past two starts while also posting a T10 at the BMW Championship in August.
But his title defense comes at a different course – one debuting a complete redesign – and against a significantly stronger field than the one he bested last year.
That includes world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who added the Houston Open a his final pre-Masters tune-up after missing his past two start due to a positive COVID-19 test. Johnson is the heavy betting favorite at +650 by BetRivers.com.
Johnson’s last event was six weeks ago at the U.S. Open, where he tied for sixth on the heels of his FedEx Cup Playoff triumph. Even with some expected rust to knock off this week, Johnson is the clear pre-tournament favorite with five consecutive top-six finishes and a pair of victories in his past nine starts.
The only other top-10 player in the field in Houston is England’s Tyrrell Hatton. He won earlier this year at Bay Hill and then climbed into the top 10 for the first time with his win at the BMW PGA Championship last month.
Hatton (+1600) isn’t a household name yet in the United States, but he’s a fierce competitor who had the fifth-lowest 72-hole score at the Tour Championship and tied for third at The CJ Cup three weeks ago.
PGA Odds for Finau to Return to Form After Covid
Tony Finau is also being offered at +1600 by BetRivers.com. He tied for 11th at the Zozo Championship following his bout with COVID-19, and that came on the heels of a T8 at the U.S. Open, T14 at the Tour Championship and a solo fifth at the BMW Championship.
Finau is ranked 17th in the world and gobbling up impressive earnings while failing to get that breakthrough win so many have been predicting. Finau has only two career victories, the most recent coming in Puerto Rico four years ago, and there have been numerous Sunday collapses since.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (+1800) is another player racking up consistent results while lacking a win since 2017. Ranked 20th entering the week, he should be a factor in a somewhat modest field.
With this year’s Houston Open being on a revamped track, previous success in the event doesn’t hold as much weight as it would normally. Better indicators are career profile, recent form and those who would be expected to play well on a Memorial Park Golf Course with fairly tight fairways.
Scottie Scheffler (+2000) is very streaky, evidenced by his 59 at The Northern Trust to kick off the playoffs. After posting the second lowest score at the Tour Championship, Scheffler missed the U.S. Open with his COVID-19 experience. He has been slowly working his way back into form, including a T17 at the Zozo Championship, and Scheffler is eager to get that first PGA Tour win under his belt.
Other young guns to keep an eye on include Viktor Hovland (+2000) and Sungjae Im (+3000), who each have a Tour win, know how to close on Sunday and seem to bee consistently around the front page of the leaderboard.
Who Will Make a Push Before the Masters Next Week?
Then there are the former major champions trying to gain some momentum ahead of next week’s Masters.
Brooks Koepka (+2000) will make just his second start since August as he returns from hip and knee injuries. Jason Day, Zach Johnson and Adam Scott are each being offered at +3300 by BetRivers.
Day had a run of quality finishes over the summer but hasn’t won since 2018. It has been even longer since Johnson has found the winner’s circle (2015 when he claimed The Open Championship). Scott offers long odds for the world’s 15th-ranked player who won earlier this year, but has made only four starts since the Tour resumed in mid-June.
Former Masters champion Sergio Garcia is being offered at even longer odds at +4000 despite winning just last month.
Players in good recent form include Doc Redman. He has yet to win but has flashed the ability to go incredibly low on a given day. Redman (+4500) is coming off a T4 and has a pair of T3s in his past six starts.
He tied last week with Stewart Cink, the veteran who snapped a lengthy dry spell with a win at the Safeway Open. He also finished T12 at the Sanderson Farms Championship and is listed at +6600 by BetRivers.com. That’s just ahead of Wyndham Clark (+7000), who is coming off a playoff loss to Brian Gay last week.
A pair of longshots worth taking a long look at are Denny McCarthy (+7000) and Mackenzie Hughes (+9000).
McCarthy also finished in that group in fourth place last week courtesy of a closing 63, tying for the low round of the tournament. The winner of the Web.com Tour Championship in 2018, McCarthy finished T6 at last month’s Sanderson Farms Championship and T9 at the Wyndham Championship.
Hughes is ranked 53rd in the world, won twice in 2016 and reached the Tour Championship last season while finishing in the top 10 in all three legs of the playoffs. He also finished second at The Honda Classic and T3 at the Travelers Championship earlier this year.
Houston Open Best Bet for Nov. 5, 2020
Jordan Spieth is desperately trying to find any kind of momentum heading to Augusta National.
Not only has Spieth not won since the 2018 Open Championship, he has plummeted to No. 75 in the world while admitting ongoing struggles with his game. Spieth has a T41 and T38 in his past two starts following a string of three consecutive missed cuts.
The former world No. 1 hasn’t posted a result better than a T30 since July and has struggled to avoid the big numbers that keep him out of contention.
Houston Open Best Bet: Jordan Spieth +130 to miss the cut by BetMGM. A $10 bet would return $23 if Spieth fails to reach the weekend.