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Cadence Bank Houston Open picks and predictions for this week. The PGA Tour heads to Texas for the Cadence Bank Houston Open. Golf handicapper Andy Lack is here to break it all down and give us his early picks.

Cadence Bank Houston Open Picks and Predictions: Look for Aaron Wise, Alex Smalley to Find Success

The Cadence Bank Houston Open has been one of the longest-standing events on the PGA Tour, and it has moved around a wide variety of courses in the greater Houston area. Memorial Park hosted this event in 1947 and from 1951 to 1963, but it fell out of favor and was in desperate need for a modern update in order to challenge players at the PGA Tour level. Houston Astros owner Jim Crane answered the bell, hiring Tom Doak to oversee the renovation. Doak, along with the help of player consultant Brooks Koepka, lengthened the course to over 7,400 yards and completely revamped the green complexes.

Since Doak's 2019 renovation, Carlos Ortiz and Jason Kokrak have emerged victorious at respective scores of 13-under par and 10-under par. Unfortunately, neither will be competing this year after their decision to defect to the LIV golf series. Despite the absence of its last two champions, we will still be treated to a strong field in Houston, headlined by top-20 players, Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Tony Finau, and Hideki Matsuyama. Aaron Wise, Taylor Montgomery, and Jason Day will also be making the trek to Texas in hopes of continuing their stellar play this fall swing. Let's dive into what we should be looking out for this week by getting into prediction, pick, and odds for the Cadence Bank Houston Open.

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Cadence Bank Houston Open: Course Preview

Memorial Park

Now playing as a par 70 and tipping out to 7,412 yards on the scorecard, Memorial Park plays as one of the longest and most difficult courses on the PGA Tour schedule. The course is one of the few on the schedule that features five par threes, and Doak did a fine job of creating variety, as each feature over a 12-yard difference. The course really shows its teeth in its par fours, as a whopping five two-shooters measure over 490 yards on the scorecard. Along with the 236-yard 11th hole, these five long par fours make up five of the six most difficult holes on the course. Each of these par fours features a scoring average of 4.1 or higher, and the par four 14th, which measures nearly 530 yards on the scorecard and plays to a scoring average of 4.1 or higher, with a 35% bogey rate. The par fives provide some respite, but the par-five 16th actually plays over par and ranks as one of the hardest three-shooters on the PGA Tour.

Ultimately, the sheer length of this course is enough of a challenge, and I will be looking extremely closely at players who have experienced success on similarly long, driver-heavy golf courses, such as Bay Hill, Torrey Pines, and Muirfield Village. Also similar to the aforementioned courses, over 25% of Memorial Park's approach shots come from over 200 yards, which is well above the Tour average. Yet the greatest challenge of this course might actually come with the diabolical green complexes framed by short grass. Doak is one of the few modern designers who understand that bunkers are no longer a hazard for PGA Tour pros, and Memorial Park features a grand total of only 19 bunkers on the entire property. Instead, players will be forced to chip off tight lies to elevated, heavily contoured, and firm Bermuda-grass surfaces. Over the last two years, Memorial Park has ranked sixth out of 40 courses in strokes gained around the green difficulty. For this reason, I will primarily be looking to identify those with a deft touch around the greens and specifically those who experienced success on short-grass intensive courses such as Southern Hills and Augusta National. Nothing short of a complete game is required at Memorial Park, and I expect the cream to rise to the top this week.

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Cadence Bank Houston Open Key Stats

  • Proximity 200 yards plus
  • Strokes Gained Around the Green: Bermuda-grass courses
  • Stokes Gained Total: Long golf courses

Cadence Bank Houston Open Picks and Predictions: Outright Winner

Aaron Wise (+2000) Bet $100 to Collect $2,100. Click here to bet at Bet365, who have the best odds

Ahead of the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, and Sam Burns, it's actually Aaron Wise who sits atop of my statistical model this week. It does feel jarring to endorse a player with only one career PGA Tour win, which came over four years ago, at such a short number. Yet still, I believe that the 26-year-old is on the precipice of something special, and I feel comfortable trusting my numbers with this one. The Ryder Cup hopeful ranks top-25 in this field in long-term proximity from 175 yards plus, Bermuda-grass putting, strokes gained total in difficult scoring conditions, strokes gained total on long golf courses, and bogey avoidance. He now returns to a golf course where he has finished 11th and 26th, and in both appearances, he has gained over four strokes ball-striking. Memorial Park clearly fits his eye, and it should do a far better job of accentuating Wise's elite ball striking than other recent stops on the fall swing. It should not come as a surprise that the vast majority of Wise's best finishes (first Trinity Forest, second Muirfield Village, second Quail Hollow, fifth Summit Club, fifth Ridgewood, sixth Congaree, sixth Vidanta Vallarta, ninth Muirfield Village, ninth Quail Hollow, 11th Memorial Park, 17th Bay Hill) have come at either long golf courses, difficult golf courses, or long and difficult golf courses! Coming off a flawless Sunday 64 to finish top-15 last week at El Camaleon, I expect Wise to continue his momentum, and pick up his second career victory in Texas.

Alex Smalley (+9500) Bet $100 to Collect $9,600. Click here to bet at Bet365, who have the best odds

Alex Smalley is a player who has been on my radar since his days at Duke, and his comfortability on firm, Bermuda-grass greens should serve him extremely well this week at Memorial Park. When considering players farther down on the odds board, I look for those that possess one specific and undeniable elite skill set. One could argue that Smalley is actually elite at a couple of things, but what really stood out to me is the fact that over the past year and a half, the 26-year-old has been the third-best long iron player in this entire field. It should not come as a surprise that Smalley finished 15th here last year, gaining strokes in all four major categories, and the vast majority of the best finishes in his rookie year have come at 7,400-yard plus courses such as Corales, Vidanta Vallarta, and the Renaissance Club. Coming off an 11th-place finish at the Butterfield Bermuda, I expect Smalley to be firmly in the mix this week in Houston.

Article Author


Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from Manhattan, New York. Andy came to OddsChecker in January 2022 after previously writing for Golf Digest, GolfWRX, Rotoballer, and the Score. Andy is also the host of a golf betting and daily fantasy podcast, Inside Golf Podcast, as well as "The Scramble” with Rick Gehman, and a recurring guest on the Pat Mayo Experience. In his free time, Andy is still grinding away at his lifelong dream of qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, and if not writing, can likely be found somewhere on a golf course.


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