THE Golf Club of Houston provides a cracking warm-up for next week's US Masters.

Host of the Shell Houston Open, organisers pride themselves on the fact that with shaved banks, collection areas around the greens and putting surfaces that run to 13 on the Stimpmeter it is similar to Augusta.

Built across a wooded landscape in the suburbs of Houston it has many lakes and wetlands throughout the course.

With it being a week until The Masters players are taking part this weekend are either trying to get into the first Major of the season or hone their skills for Augusta.

Jordan Spieth looks a good fit for here but at around 7-1 favourite I think I’ll give him a miss. Also Jon Rahm blew everybody away in the WGC-Dell Matchplay last week in Austin until he came up against the brilliance that is Dustin Johnson – and after winning his third tournament in a row the world No.1 has pulled out.

I tipped Rahm last week and was tempted to back him again but with all the exertions it might be better to leave him alone.

Rickie Fowler looks a good choice though. He won the Honda last month and has had four top-six finishes from his last six outings.

Confidence is an important part of golf and after an up and down 2016 he seems to have regained his. At Houston he has finished 6th (2014) and T10 in 2016. His GIR stat is 70.71% (32nd) and SG:putting 0.775 (11th) which could be important here.

Rafa Cabrero Bello is spending more time on the PGA Tour this year and is holding his own. On his debut here last year he had a tournament final round of 65 while finishing fourth.

He hasn’t missed a cut in nearly 18 months. I like the big Spaniard and think he has the game to do well in America. On the European Tour he is seventh in the Race to Dubai and has finished in top six 10 times. GIR stat of 70.83% (31st) and SG:putting of 0.519 (30th).

Justin Rose has been picking his tournaments carefully this year and missed last week’s Matchplay to be ready for this weekend and next. He has three top-four finishes from six outings and I am seriously considering him for next week.

Rose has never been the greatest putter but has improved and the stat is now 0.249 (71). His GIR stat is a solid 68.75 (76th) and I have no hesitation in making a pick for Houston.

Lucas Glover was a good T7 in the Arnold Palmer last time out after a varying degree of success since the turn of the year.

He started the season well with a T5 and 3rd before the Christmas and New Year break and has taken a while to get back into the groove. Although he has a SG:putting of 0.068 his three-putt avoidance of 2.05% (32nd) on the slick greens here could be important. A GIR stat of 73.39% (9th) is also a good stat and gives me confidence for a small wager.

Recommended Bets

1.5pts ew Rickie Fowler (Betfair, 16-1)
1.5pts ew Rafa Cabrero Bello (888sport, 66-1)
1.5pts ew Justin Rose (Ladbrokes, 20-1)
1pt ew Lucas Glover (Bet365, 75-1)

Ace Venturer

  1. conners 5 years ago

    Shell Houston Open

    R.HENLEY 33/1
    B. DE CHAMBOU 66/1


    A .JUANUGARN 9/1
    J.E-SHADOFF 125/1

    ALL 2 Points e/way

    Managed to get D.JONSON at 8/1 last week, just as well, had Mcilroy, Fitzpatrick and Matsuyama, didn’t they do well !

  2. lee cunliffe 5 years ago

    3 for me in a competitive field this week
    Phil mickelson – always plays well here won before top 10 last 2 years great prep ahead of next week

    Rickie fowler- very consistent year so far for rickie. 10th last year and nice confidence boost ahead of masters. Not been outside top 20 in last few month

    Patrick reed – hunch pick have backed him first rd leader too.

    • Mr Fixit 5 years ago

      I’ve backed Mickelson for the Masters so hoping he misses the cut here and has a weekend off.
      Reed is Racing Post’s top tip this week so you are in good company.

    • lee cunliffe 5 years ago

      Be good to see micks have one final swansong, I’ve had a few weeks of free bets on hideki so he will be my main bet for masters. Good news on Reed though not sure if I was to write for racing post they would go with my “just a hunch” reasoning ?

    • Mr Fixit 5 years ago

      Would be great to see Mickelson – love the way he plays.
      I’ve seen worth reasoning than “just a hunch”.

  3. townie 5 years ago

    Jon Rahm @ 10/1 Shell Houston Open
    Ariya Jutanugarn @ 10/1 Ana Inspiration
    Steve Stricker @ 10/3 Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic
    Treble(s) EW

  4. townie 5 years ago

    Rafa Cabrera-Bello @ 50/1 Shell Houston Open
    Shanshan Feng @ 12/1 Ana Inspiration
    Double EW

  5. aceventurer 5 years ago

    Connors, De Chambeau is a good bet. His T2 at last week’s Puerto Rico Open wasn’t really a surprise. I’ve kept an eye on him this season and at 66-1 is well worth a shout. Good luck to you all with your selections.

  6. conners 5 years ago

    Hope so Ace, surprised he did not go out to 100/1 after I put money on him,my main hope is A.Jutanugarn, good luck everybody with your bets.

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