Golfers will have one last chance to gear up for The Masters this week, and many have said the Golf Club of Houston is the best place to gear up for Augusta National. The greens are cut a tad lower for more speed and the rough is cut to mimic Augusta. Even the length of the course is within 5 yards of Augusta National.
The Shell Houston Open will host a mix of players who have already qualified for the Masters, while others are attempting to fulfill their dream of playing in it. It’s quite simple for most players who are not already invited to The Masters: win this week and you are in. For Charles Howell III and Jhonattan Vegas, a top 5 finish could vault them to the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings, which would secure their spot to Augusta.
The Shell is a hard tournament to research because if players feel their game is off, they might withdraw before the cut to get an early start on Masters prep. We have seen Dustin Johnson miss a cut and WD here but also place third (last year) and fourth (four years ago).
Last year, Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler were the big names in the field, and two years ago you only had Jordan Spieth (who won) and Paul Casey. We feel limiting your big name players and leaning more heavily on guys needing to win to get into The Masters is the best way to build your DraftKings lineup this week.
Key Stats: Birdie of Better % (BoB%), Bogey Avoidance (BA), Driving Distance (DD), Par 5 Scoring, Approaches >200 yards
Phil Mickelson ($8,900)
Mickelson really loves this golf course. After posting a 35th-place finish in 2010, he has not finished worse than 17th since and even reeled off a win. He is coming off a seventh-place finish at the WGC Mexico Championship and 34th at the Genesis Open.
Lefty goes into every event trying to win, so we don’t have to worry about him withdrawing early in order to get to Augusta early. Phil is ranked fourth in BoB% on the year and ranks seventh in Par 5 Scoring. Although scrambling has not been up to par he is having one of his best putting years of his career. He’s still looking to stop a two-year winless drought and has always said he loves momentum going into majors.
Rickie Fowler ($10,000)
Fowler is another guy who plays to win every event. He has played well as of late; in his last four events he’s finished 12th, 16th, 1st and 4th. He has also posted a 10th and 6th at the Shell in the previous three years. Fowler has one of the best stat lines of any player in the field this week. He ranks first in Scrambling, second in Bogey Avoidance, seventh in Par 4 Scoring and 18th in approaches 200-225 yards. Fowler is looking to get his second win of the year and reclaim a top 5 ranking in the world.
Bernd Wiesberger ($6,700)
After finishing 27th in his Shell debut last season, Wiesberger followed it up with a 22nd in The Masters. With the courses playing very similar, it seems like he’s already found out how to score at them. He is coming into the event with 44th, 3rd, and 32nd place finishes in his last three events.
Bernd ranks very high in most key stats for this week (European Tour rankings). He ranks 12th in BoB%, 4th in Par 5 Scoring, 3rd in par 4 Scoring and 2nd in Bogey Avoidance. Although he is not the longest hitter out here he has great touch around the greens, ranking 7th in Scrambling.
Charles Howell III ($8,500)
Needing a high finish or a win to make the Masters, Howell III has been declining after a Top 15 finish six weeks ago. He hasn’t finished better than 49th in a tournament since. The Augusta-born Howell grew up playing right across the street from Augusta National and is looking to play in his first Masters since 2012 where he placed 19th. He ranks 26th in Par 4 Scoring, 32nd in Par 5 Scoring and 5th in Bogey Avoidance on the year. Chuckie 3 Sticks is looking to rebound and get his season back on track this week.
Jhonattan Vegas ($7,300)
Vegas needs a win or high finish to earn a Masters invite. He has reeled off three straight solid finishes, including a fourth, so he’s caught fire at the right time. Vegas has also made the cut at the Shell his last four starts and posted a 19th here last season.
His stats don’t line up all that well for this course, but he does strike the ball well and that should help him post a high finish this week. Important to note: Vegas is a Houston resident and will be able to sleep in his own bed and have his family and friends out to root him on this week. Look for him to play well.
Others to Consider: Lucas Glover ($8,300), Bryson DeChambeau ($7,600), Jimmy Walker ($7,600), Peter Uihlein ($7,300)
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