Many of the world’s best golfers will be warming up for the upcoming Augusta Masters at the Houston Open this week, while others will be making a last-ditch effort to book their place at the first major of the year. The traditional pre-Masters tournament begins on Thursday and with a strong field heading to Texas, there’s sure to be a lot of interest among golf betting sites and punters.
The Houston Open, which this year is without a sponsor for the first time since 1986, is one of the oldest tournaments on the tour having started in 1946. Over the course of its history, it has been dominated by American players and that remains the case when looking at recent years leading up to 2018.
Eight of the last ten winners have come from the United States, and England’s Paul Casey is the only European player to have ever won the tournament. One man looking to change that this year will be Justin Rose, who has been deemed a slight favourite or joint-favourite with most of the top online bookies.
The current world No. 5 has had a solid start to 2018 with three top-ten finishes on the PGA Tour, including a third-place finish at the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational. He also comes into this tournament fresh, having not taken part in last week’s WGC Match Play.
This will be the sixth time Rose has competed in Texas, making the cut in each of the last four. He posted a T15 finish last year and a T14 finish in 2010. Last year’s Masters runner-up has made his last eight cuts and is listed at 10/1 with Coral to win this tournament. The same bookmaker is offering 5/6 on a Rose top-10 finish.
The highest-ranked player competing in Texas will be world No. 4 Jordan Spieth, who will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing defeat to Patrick Reed in the WGC Match Play last week. Spieth has taken part in the Houston Open five years running with mixed results: he’s failed to make the cut twice but lost in a playoff in 2015.
Spieth, who hails from Dallas, is sure to have the backing of the home crowd so BetBright offering odds of 11/1 on the 24 year-old to win look pretty handsome, while one of the top online bookmakers, Unibet, have him at 11/10 odds for a top-ten finish.
Another American who’s likely to be among the frontrunners is Rickie Fowler. The once golden boy of US golf has won four PGA Tour titles in his career so far but has yet to make his big breakthrough at a major. He’d love to do it at Augusta and there’d be no better way to set himself up than a win at Houston.
In six previous appearances at the tournament, he’s made six cuts and recorded three top-ten finishes, coming joint-third last year. Like Rose, he sat out the Match Play last week and he’s 10/1 with most of the newest online bookies to win.
For punters looking for players with proven track records at the Golf Club of Houston course, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson are the two standout choices. Mickelson won the tournament in 2011 and has made the cut in ten of his 11 attempts.
The 47-year-old ended a long winless streak with victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship earlier this month, proving there’s plenty of life left in the old dog. The American is listed at 12/1 with Ladbrokes to claim his second Houston Open titles and 11/10 with Unibet for a top-ten finish.
As for Stenson, he’s never won the tournament but has finished second twice and joint-third on one occasion. The Swede likes this course and is in decent form after claiming fourth place in the Arnold Palmer. He’s a bit of a long shot at 14/1 with Paddy Power so a safer bet might be Coral’s top European, Stenson at 5/2.
An outside bet could actually be the reigning champion. Russell Henley is currently ranked 55 in the world but his record at the Houston Cup is impressive. His victory in 2017, to the surprise on some, was his fourth top-ten finish in as many years, with a combined total of 53-under-par.
The 28 year-old has already racked up three top-25 finishes in the 2018 season. Therefore 888sport offering odds of 15/8 for a top-20 finish are worth seriously considering, while Ladbrokes are offering 40/1 on Henley to become the first player since Vijay Singh in 2005 to defend his Houston Open title.