With just two weeks left of the fall swing for the PGA Tour, attention is turned to the Memorial Park Golf Course for the Cadence Bank Houston Open.
This is a big change in course types as the recent run of events saw tight-compact courses that fell on the shorter end of tour averages.
That is completely different to what we will see this week in Houston, Texas.
Memorial Park Golf Course is actually a public course that sees upwards of 30,000 rounds played by amateur golfers each year.
The course was overhauled in 2019 by Tom Doak who used Tour veteran Brooks Koepka to consult on.
It was in disrepair and was on the verge of losing its place on the tour until the revitalization came along.
Memorial Park Golf Course now plays as a long par 70 at 7,412 yards and will test every aspect of each golfer’s game.
It plays very untraditionally with five par threes and just three par fives. Although there is a decrease in the number of par fives, they still play crucial in any potential winner’s game.
The par threes too play long at this course, as that is the case for everything at this golf course.
This course too annually plays as one of the toughest on tour as the average round a year ago was one over-par.
The only real chance at consistent birdies here come on the par fives and as previously mentioned, must be capitalized on for anyone hoping to win.
The last two winners of the event played the par fives eight-under-par over the event. That goes a long way when the winning scores were 10-under and 13-under over the last two events.
Approach play will be key here, especially with the long-iron approach shots. The course on paper already plays long but plays even longer than what it advertises.
Getting off the tee and down the center of the fairway will be crucial. There isn’t much in terms of bunkers, water hazards or out-of-play areas, but the thick rough that too offers difficult lies can derail any hole.
Greens in regulation will be crucial as well, simply because any hopeful winner cannot leave any strokes out on the course.
Putting too will be crucial as the previous winners caught a hot flat stick and placed fairly high in their respective fields in terms of strokes gained: putting.
Recent run of form will be hard to use this week as the conditions and type of course is unlike anything we’ve seen in this fall swing. Heck, only the Valspar Championship is relatively similar to this week’s event on the entire Tour.
As for weather this week, we could see temperatures lower than anything we’ve seen thus far this season. Saturday and Sunday have highs of 59 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit respectively. Wind too could be a factor with speeds reaching upward of 14 miles-per-hour on Friday and Saturday. These conditions are a far cry from recent events in Bermuda and Mexico.
Important statistics to consider this week include Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP,) Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%,) Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT,) Par Three Scoring, Average Driving Distance, Par Five Scoring and Driving Accuracy Percentage.
Our module this week is once again high on Tony Finau ($10,400.) I know Finau had a rough go of things last week in Mexico missing the cut at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba but his game still fits this event. Finau is a very well rounded golfer who does a lot of things well. Last season he was fifth in GIR%, 12th in SG: APP, 14th in par five scoring, 40th in average driving distance, 51st in par three scoring and 85th in SG: PUTT. Last week was his debut event of the season so him knocking the rust off isn’t too much of a concern. Also consider Scottie Scheffler ($11,500.) The former World #1 is back in action this week after going T3rd last week in Mexico. On the season he is 11th in GIR%, 28th in driving accuracy percentage, 33rd in par three scoring, 36th in average driving distance, 43rd in par five scoring and 96th in SG: APP. Through two events however he has not been good on the greens. He’ll have to find his groove on the greens this week for sure but if there’s anyone who can do it, it would be Scheffler.
Our highest scoring golfer per our module can be found in this price range in Jason Day ($9,500.) On the season Day has a T8th at the Shriners Children’s Open, a T11st at the CJ Cup in South Carolina and a T21st at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. He’s also sixth on tour in SG: APP, tenth in GIR%, 26th in driving accuracy percentage, 27th in par five scoring, 61st in average driving distance, 108th in SG: PUTT and 110th in par three scoring. He’s playing great golf as of late and a lot of success in this fall swing of the tour comes with being hot, and Day is hot. Also consider Aaron Wise ($9,900.) Over his last two tournaments Wise has gone sixth at the CJ Cup and T15th at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. That's a good three weeks for Wise as he rolls into his third event in the last 30 days. He’s currently 16th in par five scoring, 19th in SG: PUTT, 21st in par three scoring, 37th in average driving distance, 42nd in driving accuracy and 56th in GIR%. What’s somewhat impressive is that Wise is playing well while ranking 130th in SG: APP, a statistic that he is annually well above average in. It’s a matter of time before he finds his swing there and makes big pushes for victories.
Like last week, this price range offered some great options, opposed to the typical scraps we come across week-in-and-week-out. First off here we have Matthew NeSmith ($8,900.) NeSmith is currently fourth on tour in GIR%, eight in par three scoring, 19th in SG: APP, 38th in SG: PUTT and 64th in par five scoring. He is below average in average driving distance and driving accuracy percentage although slightly. If we want to talk about hot golfers however, we have to talk about NeSmith. In his last three events he’s gone T9th at the Sanderson Farms Championship, T2nd at the Shriners Children’s Open and T9th at the Zozo Championship. That’s a fantastic run of form. Also consider Adam Hadwin ($8,300.) Hadwin is currently 20th on tour in both SG: PUTT and par five scoring, 38th in par three scoring, 40th in SG: APP, 56th in GIR% and 60th in driving accuracy percentage. In four events thus far this season he has not missed the cut, highlighted by a T10th at the Shriners Children’s Open.
Leading off this penultimate price range is Davis Thompson ($7,300.) Thompson is on a pretty good run of things to start the season as well. He has not missed a cut in three events and went T9th at the Fortinet Championship and T12th at the Shriners Children’s Open. He’s currently 14th on tour in average driving distance, 19th in par five scoring, 22nd in GIR%, 56th in SG: APP, 86th in driving accuracy percentage, 105th in SG: PUTT and 110th in par three scoring, making him one of three golfers to play above average in each of the statistical categories we’ve taken into consideration this week. Also consider Will Gordon ($7,700.) Gordon has played in five tournaments already this season and hasn’t missed a cut yet. He most recently went T3rd at last week’s World Wide Technologies Championship at Mayakoba as well. He’s currently 34th in GIR%, 58th in average driving distance, 59th in SG: APP, 64th in par five scoring, 78th in driving accuracy percentage, 80th in SG: PUTT and 104th in par three scoring. Like Thompson, he’s above average in each of the statistical categories we’ve taken into consideration this week.
James Hahn ($6,700) has missed two cuts in three events this season but his game matches well with this week’s event. He’s 11th on Tour in SG: APP, 30th in GIR%, 73rd in average driving distance, 82nd in par three scoring, 110th in driving accuracy percentage, 126th in SG: PUTT and 127th in par five scoring. For someone in this final price range and off that $6,900 line, I’d say he matches up fairly this week, especially when it comes to lineup flexibility. Also consider Chesson Hadley ($6,900.) Hadley has made back-to-back cuts and even went T17th at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. He’s currently 13th on tour in par three scoring, 35th in GIR%, 39th in SG: APP, 66th in SG: PUTT and 121st in average driving distance.