This article looks at player trends and histories at weekly PGA tour venues. Specifically targeting who has had success at a given course, who hasn’t, and what sorts of statistics or trends you should pay close attention to when making your fantasy golf rosters on DraftKings. This article is more about alerting you to certain trends and giving you the tools to succeed than simply recommending certain plays.


The Field

This is a regular tour event with a full 144 man field. The cut will take place after Friday with the top 70 and ties moving on.

The event this week precedes the Masters.  As a result, you will see a smattering of some top-ranked players from around the world in the field, all trying to get in a good tune-up before the year’s first major.  Some top players that will be in attendance include: Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Jimmy Walker.  Even though the past two runnings of this event have been won by somewhat long shots, I’d still try to focus on getting as many top players into your lineup(s) as possible.  Players should be extra-focused with Augusta looming next week.


Course Details

Redstone Course—Golf Club of Houston, Par 72 7400-7500 yards (depending on setup)

For the third week in a row, the players will be on a longer par 72 course.  The Redstone Course was built for this event and has been the host course for the past 10 years. Because of this, we have a decent amount of player history to use this week.  The course is long and also features lots of water, but the fairways are large and generous and will not penalize inaccuracy to the extent last week’s course in San Antonio did.  As the event precedes the Masters, the course is often setup to mimic Augusta.  The greens are usually very fast; however, there is a lot of rain in the forecast for the week, which could soften them up.


Last Five Winners

1) Matt Jones (2014)
2) D.A. Points (2013)
3) Hunter Mahan (2012)
4) Phil Mickelson (2011)
5) Anthony Kim (2010)


What Will it Take to Succeed at The Shell Houston Open?

A good long game will definitely help, but it’s not the only way to have success here.  Last year, a playoff was featured between Matt Kuchar and Matt Jones, and neither player can be classified as a “bomber.”  Scrambling and putting seem just as vital toward success this week as distance.  The players who can avoid the mistakes, while also taking advantage of the par 5’s for scoring will have the best chance.  Driving and play around the greens seem equally significant.  One thing to note, there is rain in the forecast and if the course softens up, the long hitters will get more of an advantage.


Who has had Success Here?

A variety of different styles of play have found consistent success at Redstone.  Matt Kuchar’s all-world short game has seen him finish 2-8-8 in his last three trips to Houston.  Cameron Tringale, who relies on accuracy and consistent putting, has gone 4-16-8 in his last three visits and has made the cut in all four of his appearances. JB Holmes and his power game have found a ton of success here, as he’s posted 12-8-42-2 place finishes in 4 visits.  Finally, Phil Mickelson, one of the least accurate drivers on tour, has used this event as his warm up for Augusta the past 7 years.  Phil’s lack of accuracy has not hurt him, however, as he has gone 12-16-4-1 in his last four visits.


Who has Struggled Here?

One thing to note this week is that experience playing the course may be a key factor.  Many of the players who have had success playing at Redstone have long histories at the event.  On the other hand, Jordan Spieth has played the event twice now and gone MC-50th, which is interesting since he sports such a great record at most other events.  Brendan Steele, who’s really been on fire lately hasn’t done better than 38th here in four visits, and he’s also missed the cut twice in that span.  Finally Martin Kaymer might be looking to rebound after a poor performance last week, but he has two missed cuts in three visits to Redstone, so will have to reverse that trend if he wants to do so.


What Statistics are Important?

Hitting it long does seem to help players on this course, so Driving Distance is something to take a look at.  I would also recommend a look at par 5 scoring.  The winning score is usually well into double digits under par, so players will simply have to take advantage of the par 5’s in order to keep up with the field.  In this same vein, the last stat I might look at is strokes gain-putting.  In a week where scoring is important, why not give weight to the club (putter) which accounts for most of a player’s scoring success?


My Recommendation:

There’s a lot to take into account this week.  The field has some big names who will really want to get in a good tune-up for Augusta.  Additionally, the weather could be a large factor (again), and if the rain comes, bigger hitters will gain the upper hand.  I’m focusing on players who have been swinging a hot putter recently and can take advantage of the par 5’s for scoring.  I’m also looking more intently at those players who really need a good week here to get their confidence up for the Masters.


My Pick to Win: Louis Oosthuizen

Oosthuizen has a very nice record at this event, having placed 10th here in 2013 and 3rd in 2012.  He has the distance to absolutely tear up the course if it gets soft and should be motivated for a good week to prepare for the Masters.  I like Oosthuizen to build on his recent stretch of solid play and cash in a win here in Houston.