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Houston Open + AVIV Dubai Championship

GRANT FORREST 60/1
BERND WIESBERGER 17/1
SEAN CROCKER 60/1
JOHN CATLIN 40/1
ROBERT MACINTYRE 35/1
THESE ARE ALL WITH PP BET £5EW PAYING 7 PLACES
TYRRELL HATTON 28/1 £5EW PP 8 PLACES
SEPP STRAKA 125/1 £5EW PP 8 PLACES
J J SPAUN 125/1 £3EW PADDY POWER 8 PLACES
LUKE LIST 125/1 £3EW SKYBET 8 PLACES
ADAM LONG 125/1 £5EW BETFRED PAYING 7 PLACES
MAVERICK MCNEALY 40/1 £5EW WILLIAM HILL 8 PLACES
FIRE COURSE, Jumeirah Golf Estates,
MEMORIAL PARK GOLF COURSE

Opened in January 2010, the second Greg Norman designed course at Jumeirah Golf Estates is a different experience than the more acclaimed “Earth” course and is generally considered to be a stronger links course. Norman has certainly proved himself in the construction of this spectacular course, and is a must-play if you’re ever in Dubai. 

Accuracy on your approach to the superbly manicured greens and good course planning is key here at “Fire” a risk-reward strategy can help you score well here. Even non-golfers can appreciate the visually stunning views of this course which is beautifully maintained throughout the year and the hint of red in the sand of the bunkers here is a unique and rustic touch.

Players are easily deceived by the basic nature of their shot on the first hole, however it is imperative they do not get lured into a false sense of security as the player is then swiftly thrown into the game. Positioning on the tee may be considered to be the largest challenge this course poses, as large sandy regions and rough areas affect your play when aiming for a narrow fairway.

Set up this week is pretty much an advantage for strokes gained off the tee, along with accuracy of the tee.  

So on inspection the Fire course plays a lot easier than the Earth course next door. The par fives can be attacked and if brave enough players will be rewarded. We have two drivable par fours the first hole we have seen a lot of players getting there already this week and the 16th you can get very close.

The track has a number of well-placed bunkers so look for players with a good sand trap percentage. As for the greens these are Bermuda greens which are far easier to maintain in the desert.

Memorial Park Golf Course is known as one of the best municipal courses in the nation and is visited by more than 60,000 patrons each year. Funded by the non-profit Astros Golf Foundation, the $18.5 million project has produced the promised world-class golf course for all Houstonians and the return of the PGA TOUR’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open to Memorial Park for the first time since 1963.

Memorial Park Golf Course is a municipal golf course, it was a John Bredemus 1935 design, and Tom Doak was brought in by sponsor Jim Crane to completely renovate Memorial Park, so that it can host the Houston Open. Doak, with some help from player consultant Brooks Koepka they delivered a great test of golf in less than ten months.

The changes Doak added were more undulating fairways and with mostly around the greens, and his plan was to make Memorial Park an exciting venue for all.

At 7,432 yards for a Par 70, the course is stretching in length. But it also shares a pretty quirky set-up, as the course features five par threes, three par fives. We set up our trackman on the drivable par four 13th just for a bit of fun, and we got some interesting data back on a few of our picks.  

The holes and design is mainly tree lined but do not feature as quite a way back from the fairways, so still plenty of generous fairways to hit. The rough is slightly penal but not really that much of an issue to the Professionals playing here this week.

Very few bunkers on the course but the ones they have got are very tough and located in some great spots. The main feature of this course now is around the greens and just how tough it will be to get up and down if you miss the greens. Any errant approach shots will see the ball gather off into slopes and gullies and find themselves with a though shot to an elevated green.

The greens are large and feature Mini Verde Ultra Dwarf Bermuda Grass. Other courses that have the same features are:

  • TPC Louisana
  • East Lake
  • GC of Houston
PAST RESULTS

2020      Winner – Antoine Rozner                263        −25        2 strokes             

Runners Up

Francesco Laporta

Mike Lorenzo-Vera

Andy Sullivan

Matt Wallace

PAST RESULTS

2014      Matt Jones          273       

2015      J.B. Holmes         272       

2016      Jim Herman         273       

2017      Russell Henley    268       

2018      Ian Poulter          269       

2020      Lanto Griffin       274       

2021      Carlos Ortiz         267       

Our Picks

GRANT FORREST (SCO) 60/1

Winner of the Hero Open is my top pick for this week. The odds should be a bit more generous now having picked up that win back in August he has started to show some of that form again of late.

Third at the Open de Espana was pretty good watching and some fantastic ball striking. The following week he was off the boil a bit at the Andalucia Masters but then seemed to bounce back well at the Portugal Masters finishing inside the top 30.

On paper and from what we have seen of him here this week if he does not get us some money I will not understand why. Been hard for us on the European Tour of late as we have not done much wrong so hopefully we turn the tables here this week.

BERND WIESBERGER (AUT) 17/1

Our old pal will be one of the favourite this week, I am sure of it. But for good reason I cannot see him finishing any worse than a top ten.   

Good friends of GBT the dream team of this caddy and player partnership.  

Coming off nine straight cuts made, fifth at the BMW International runner up at the Omega Masters.

I just feel his game is now ready to get back to how he played in 2019, where he picked up three wins on the European Tour and was inside the world’s top twenty. He will win again soon and feel coming back here he will get the job done or give it a very good run.

JOHN CATLIN (USA)

John is a player that has impressed me a lot seeing him playing on the European Tour, he is a similar player to Peter Ulien who has branched away from the US and has played all over the world and feel this can only be a good vibe and for him to further his career worldwide.

He picked up a win in 2021 at the Austrian Open with some great golf.

His last three events have gone:

  • Andalucía Masters – 11TH
  • Mallorca Open – 20TH
  • Portugal Masters – 22ND

So he seems to be primed and ready to go. Although he has no real past results here I feel the Fire Course will be to his liking and see him showing yet another strong week.  

Trends that back this up are:

  • Driving Accuracy – 62% – Ranked 11th
  • GIR 69% – Ranked 40th

One other point seems to be if in contention on the last day his final round scoring is one of the best on paper, so if we have a chance coming down the stretch then watch out.

SEAN CROCKER (USA) 60/1
ROBERT MACINTYRE (SCO) 45/1
MAVERICK MCNEALY (USA)40/1

What an amazing 2021 he is having. Here are just a few of his highlights so far:

  • 16tH at the 3M Open
  • 4th place at the RBC Heritage
  • Second place at the AT&T Pebble Beach
  • Another 2ND place at the Fortinet

We have been following him since the Korn Ferry days. He made the FedEx Cup playoffs in his rookie season, making 17 of 23 cuts pretty impressive and a very talented kid.

This season he has made four out of five cuts with of course his best chance of picking that first win came at the Fortinet at the first event. It is only a matter of time before he breaks through to win and this place should suit his eye.

J J SPAUN (USA) 160/1

He has been on my radar for a while and feel this track and event is the best place to play him.

Talk about consistence he has shot eleven under par on his last three events.

  • Shriners – 35TH
  • Bermuda – 7TH
  • Mayakoba – 27TH

He won the Boise Open on the Korn Ferry Tour this year so we now the game is on track.

His last round was very mixed bag last week closing with three bogeys to finish the round at +2 so cost him a much higher finish.

One of our team were also in his group at the Wells Fargo and boy they were very impressed and said then it’s only a matter of time before he clicks in four rounds.    

I like a top twenty bet here as well.

TYRRELL HATTON (ENG) 28/1

 Tyrrell is primed and ready for his next win.

He has picked up four wins all over the world covering the past few years from the Turkish Open to the Arnold Palmer Invitational. This course should be a horses for courses fit for me and he could be going very low around here this week.

Solid driver of the ball and very accurate, which backs up his going for green percentage and his birdie of better percentage.    

As we know he is one of the best putter’s in the game so when he gets hot he normally goes low, he shows nearly a shot a round strokes gained putting. With his average per round being around 26.88 ranked inside the top ten on the PGA Tour.

A must bet for the week.

SEPP STRAKA (AUS) 125/1
ADAM LONG (USA) 125/1
LUKE LIST (USA) 125/1

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