Houston Open First Round Leader Picks, Bets & More (2024)

The TOUR is finally done with the Florida leg and now heads to Texas for the Houston Open. Here we continue our FRL series by making our Houston Open first round leader picks, bets and more.

Much like we’ve seen prior to hitting the southeast, distance returns as a primary metric in beating the course. The harsh reality for this year’s field is Scottie Scheffler is playing, so winning seems to be an even more difficult task. Scheffler’s complete tear aside, there’s some decent value in finding a First Round Leader (FRL) this week in Houston.

We want to target guys who are playing consistent golf, can avoid bogeys, tear the cover off the ball from the tee box, and stretch longer par 4s with their ball striking. Easy enough right? If that’s not enough, add the Bermuda grass on the putting surfaces that can trip up those less familiar with the ground. The major changes from Florida come with less water and elements but make no mistake, Memorial Park is no joke of a course. While big hitters can certainly be rewarded both off the tee and long second shots, avoiding bogeys and scrambling around the green become equally important.

The biggest reason why avoiding bogeys becomes more in the forefront than most courses we’ve already seen is overall difficulty. This is not the easiest course to score, and we expect a winning number to be -10 to -12 range. Staying bogey free will provide a massive edge.

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Texas Children’s Houston Open First Round Leader Picks

The Keys To The Kingdom

Identifying a course fit combined with an earlier tee time is a typical pathway to successfully betting any FRL. Not much changes with the approach this week in Houston, especially with a few AM tee times with great course fits. We want driving distance, familiarity on Bermuda grass, and bogey avoidance – all under the umbrella of a golfer who is at least comfortable at Memorial Park.

Getting off to a hot start will be key to any potential FRL as some heavy hitters like Scheffler and Will Zalatoris will be creeping in the earlier groups. Finding a sweet spot between someone playing fantastic golf overall and what transfers to Memorial is also important. Not everything from Florida will transfer over, specifically the type of course management. Setting up a longer second shot on these par 4s requires more distance and less angle off the tee. Anyone who struggles on Bermuda will have to be impeccable from 150 yards or less, especially around the green.

Ultimately, finding success after one round is easier than maintaining it over the course of four days. Memorial isn’t in the business of handing out easy shots, so expect a lot of grinding for pars. The Texas two-step starts in Houston and while the field may not have the typical stardom, expect a tough yet rewarding first day of golf.

The Texas Children’s Houston Open First-Round Leader Picks

Texas Children’s Houston Open First Round Leader Picks: Stephan Jaeger +5500 Caesars

This hasn’t been the best overall stretch for Stephan Jaegar, missing the cut at The Players and the Cognizant. Not the best Florida stretch for Jaegar by any means. The good news is that despite losing strokes on Bermuda, not much else should negatively transfer for him. Other areas have been working in his game and Jaegar meets plenty of course criteria for Memorial.

We see one of the earlier tee times slotted for Jaegar combined with odds north of 50-1 at some books. He’s one of the best in the current field in some key areas like driving distance, Strokes Gained (SG) Around the Green, and bogey avoidance. Remember, this is a demanding course that will test endurance over a four day stretch, we are minimizing length of lead and betting on one day of superior success.

If Jaegar can settle down with the putting then he’s in good shape. He’s had some success here that indicates whatever went wrong in Florida isn’t a strong connection to Texas. Take him anything north of 50-1 to lead after one.

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Texas Children’s Houston Open First Round Leader Picks: Jake Knapp +5000 BetMGM

We’ve seen Jake Knapp at his best this season, winning form at the Mexico Open, followed up with a T4 at the Cognizant. He’s since cooled off – Florida golf can do that to you – but is back with some matching criteria for Memorial. Mexico’s Vidanta is also a course built off length, one that is more forgiving but still rewarding distance off the tee. Knapp has the ability to turn around this early tee time into an early lead.

Despite two disappointing finishes, Knapp still came away a net positive off the greens. He simply fell apart off the tee in Florida, something that won’t be as demanding in Houston. Knapp at 50-1 is a buy low spot for only two weeks of mediocre golf. It’s absolutely worth a shot.

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