Horses for Courses: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open
November 09, 2021
By Mke Glasscott, PGATOUR.COM
- Cameron Smith leads the PGA TOUR in Par-5 scoring. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Last year Memorial Park Golf Course was preparing 132 players for the first-ever fall Masters Tournament. After Tom Doak completed his 2019 renovation this became the first time this municipal track hosted a TOUR event since the early 1960s
Last year Carlos Ortiz won this inaugural event and then in his next start went on to finish second at Mayakoba. Last week he finished second at Mayakoba but he withdrew this week due to an injury.
Last year Dustin Johnson (not entered) and Hideki Matsuyama (not entered) finished tied for second. Johnson went on to win the Masters the following week and Matsuyama won the Masters proper the following April.
Wild, wild times.
After just one event on a new track it can be difficult to sort data so I've turned to Rob Bolton and his Power Rankings for this week for clues. I've passed along my findings so you can use them as part of your formula for cracking the Memorial Park code this week. Bolton's analysis is the standard bearer on our field so not using his insight would be a bit daft. Plus he gave Horses for Courses a shout out last week so I'll gladly return the favor.
Tom Doak's redesign of Memorial Park had help from Brooks Koepka as player-consultant. The Par-70 stretches just over 7,400 yards and interestingly enough employs FIVE Par-3 holes and THREE Par-5 holes. The combination of yardage and an additional Par-5 makes sense that the leaderboard was filled with guys who could get after it last year. Mini Verde Bermuda greens are on average of 7,000 square feet making ample targets to aim for from the fairway or from the two inches of 419 Bermuda guarding them. Only 19 bunkers and two water hazards (in play on just four holes) will keep play at a decent pace on the other 51 weeks of the season. Torrey Pines is the only other municipal course used on TOUR annually.
A field of 132 returns this week to claim a piece of the $7.5 million purse and a trip to the Masters and Sentry Tournament of Champions. The winner will also pocket $1.35 million and 500 FedExCup points plus a two-year exemption.
This week I've provided a different angle for gamers. I've listed the top finishers, as usual, but I've also included a few stat categories from last year that might provide clues for the event this time around.
Recent Event Winners Stats
Season 2021 Year 2020 Winner Carlos Ortiz Score 13-under MOV 2 Runner-Up Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama Age 29 All Drives 13 Accuracy T51 GIR T8 Ball-Striking 20 Proximity T22 Putting: Birdie or Better % T20 SG: Off-the-Tee 31 SG: Approach-the-Green 14 SG: Around-the-Green 2 SG: Putting 5 SG: Tee-to-Green 5 Scrambling 1 Bogey Avoidance T1 Par-3 Scoring T4 Par-4 Scoring T14 Par-5 Scoring T1
2020 Debut Winner
Carlos Ortiz (-13, 267)
Editor’s note: Unable to defend his title after withdrawing this week due to injury
Fired a final round 65, his best of the week, to win by two shots. ... At the time became the third Mexican to win on TOUR. ... One of three players to post all four rounds in the 60s. ... Trailed by one after 54 holes and two after 36 holes. ... Led or co-led the field in Scrambling, Bogey Avoidance and Par-5 scoring. ... Cashed T35, T48 in the two events he played prior. ... Claims his first TOUR victory at age 29 in his 118th start.
Only 14 bogey-free rounds for the week. ... Top 37 finished in red figures. ... Only three players 10-under or better. ... Lowest round of the week was 63 set by Mackenzie Hughes (T7), Hideki Matsuyama (T2; not entered) and Talor Gooch (4th), all on Sunday. ... Brandt Snedeker (T44) led with 65 after 18 holes. ... Sam Burns (T7) led by two after 36 holes and one after 54 holes. ... Cut was 3-over 143. ... 71.025 scoring average.
Key stat leaders from 2020 EDITION
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green Player Rank Finish Sam Burns 1 T7 Dustin Johnson 2 T2 Harold Varner III 3 T15 Shane Lowry 4 T11 Carlos Ortiz 5 WIN Hideki Matsuyama 6 T2 Patton Kizzire 7 T11 Jason Day 8 T7 Maverick McNealy 9 T20 Adam Long 10 T11 Talor Gooch 11 4th Aaron Wise 12 T11 Strokes Gained: Putting Player Rank Finish Mackenzie Hughes 1 T7 Brooks Koepka 2 T5 Dawie van der Walt 3 T20 Sepp Straka 4 T5 Carlos Ortiz 5 WIN Austin Cook 6 T24 Tyrrell Hatton 7 T7 Talor Gooch 8 4th Doc Redman 9 T61 Hideki Matsuyama 10 T2 Russell Knox 11 T15 Erik van Rooyen 12 T20 James Hahn 13 T50 JT Poston 14 T20 Par-5 Scoring Player Rank Finish Sam Burns 1 T7 Hideki Matsuyama 1 T2 Carlos Ortiz 1 WIN Brice Garnett 1 T50 Brandt Snedeker 5 T44 Justin Harding 5 T38 Lanto Griffin 7 T58 Aaron Wise 7 T11 Erik Barnes 7 T38 Talor Gooch 7 4th Matt Jones 7 63 Birdies Player Rank Total Birdies Finish Hideki Matsuyama 1 21 T2 Will Gordon 2 20 T38 Brooks Koepka 2 20 T5 Dustin Johnson 2 20 T2 Adam Scott 5 19 T32 Sepp Straka 6 18 T5 Mackenzie Hughes 6 18 T7 Carlos Ortiz 6 18 WIN Viktor Hovland 9 17 T15 Scottie Scheffler 9 17 T32 Shane Lowry 9 17 T11 Cameron Tringale 9 17 T29 Jason Day 9 17 T7 Maverick McNealy 9 17 T20
Horses for Courses: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open
Player Score Tournament Finish 2020 Notes Talor Gooch -9 4th Closed with 63, co-low round of the week; 2nd Putting Brooks Koepka -8 T5 Closed 65-65; Player design consultant Sepp Straka -8 T5 All 4 rounds in the 60s; T8 GIR Sam Burns -7 T7 Led by 2 after 36; Led by 1 after 54; First 54 hole lead Jason Day -7 T7 T5 GIR Tyrrell Hatton -7 T7 Top 10 Putts and GIR Mackenzie Hughes -7 T7 Closed 68-63 Adam Long -6 T11 Top 10 Fairways and GIR Shane Lowry -6 T11 All 4 rounds in the 60s Aaron Wise -6 T11 T1 GIR Russell Knox -5 T15 Just 5 bogeys, 1 Double Francesco Molinari -5 T15 T5 Putts Michael Thompson -5 T15 T4 Fairways Harold Varner III -5 T15 4th GIR
Key stat leaders
Top golfers in each statistic on the 2020-2021 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.
Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green Rank Player 11 Brooks Koepka 13 Sergio Garcia 16 Tony Finau 18 Tyrrell Hatton 19 Shane Lowry 20 Russell Henley 21 Scottie Scheffler 23 Luke List 24 Charley Hoffman 25 Seamus Power 25 Aaron Wise 31 Jhonattan Vegas 32 Joaquin Niemann 33 Harold Varner III 35 Kyle Stanley 37 Jason Day 39 Sungjae Im Strokes-Gained: Putting Rank Player 2 JT Poston 3 Ian Poulter 4 Patrick Reed 5 Zach Johnson 6 Jason Kokrak 9 Sam Burns 10 Cameron Smith 11 Chesson Hadley 15 Mackenzie Hughes 16 Cameron Tringale 18 Adam Scott 22 Denny McCarthy 25 Brian Harman 27 Hank Lebioda 31 Brice Garnett 34 Lanto Griffin Par-5 Scoring Rank Player 1 Cameron Smith 7 Brooks Koepka 7 Sergio Garcia 7 Ryan Palmer 11 Sam Burns 13 Max Homa 13 Joaquin Niemann 13 Brian Harman 21 Scottie Scheffler 21 Carlos Ortiz 21 Luke List 21 Anirban Lahiri 28 Hank Lebioda 30 Sungjae Im 30 Vincent Whaley 35 Talor Gooch 35 Tony Finau 35 Patrick Reed 35 Kevin Tway 35 Cameron Tringale 42 Sepp Straka 42 Matthew Wolff 42 Aaron Wise 42 Seamus Power 42 Brandt Snedeker