Fantasy Golf Insider: 9 players to target at the Shell Houston Open

The Shell Houston Open brings a much improved field when compared to last week’s Puerto Rico Open. Thirty-three members of the field have invitations to next week’s Masters tournament and 12 of the top 30 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings will be present.

When assembling GPP rosters, remember the week brings extra motivation, with the winner earning his way onto Augusta National.

Here’s a look at the past three leaderboards (*denotes a tie):

2013 2014 2015
1 D.A. Points Matt Jones* J.B. Holmes
2 Billy Horschel* Matt Kuchar* Jordan Spieth*
3 Henrik Stenson* Sergio Garcia* Johnson Wagner*

Per FantasyInsiders, the key stats for this week at the Golf Club of Houston are Driving Distance (DD), Par 5 Scoring (P5S), Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SGT2G), and Birdie or Better Percentage (BB). These were selected based off the strength of recent top finishers in these respective categories. Use these along with current form and course history when making selections.

Top Tier, Top Dollar, Top Results

Dustin Johnson

Among the most expensive options of the week, all signs point toward to Johnson. He comes at a dramatic price discount from Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, one of which has had significantly less success. Johnson has made all seven cuts this season, with three top 10s. He ranks fifth on tour in DD, 13th in SGT2G, 14th in P5S and second in BoB.

His ownership may be held in check, as well, with the fear that Spieth will become an overly popular contrarian play ahead of his Masters defense.

Phil Mickelson

Few golfers have the prestigious course history of Mickelson this week. He won the event back in 2011, and he hasn’t finished outside the top 20 since 2010. He has missed just one cut in seven appearances. He also enters with great form ahead of the Masters; he has made six of seven cuts this season, with three top 10s and an average score of 69.1.

He has finishes of second, third and fifth on the season. It’s much better form than he showed in 2015, when he hadn’t finished higher than 17th ahead of a runner-up finish in Augusta.

Brooks Koepka

Considering Koepka’s experience and pedigree, this is somewhat surprisingly his first career appearance at the event in Humble, Texas. He comes in with solid recent form, making eight of nine cuts on the season, with the lone miss coming back in October at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He ranks ninth in DD, 42nd in SGT2G and 11th in BoB.

A lack of course history will keep ownership in check.

Best Value With a Chance

Graham DeLaet

DeLaet is a considerably more appealing target in a week where he’s not the most expensive player in the field. He finished T11 at the Puerto Rico Open and T5 at the Valspar Championship before that.

With a lower price tag and a position a little further down the pricing chart, he’ll come with lower ownership – and he won’t have to capture the elusive win in order to return value.

Steve Stricker

Stricker has played in this event in eight of the past 10 seasons, boasting unrivaled experience at the Golf Club of Houston. 2015 was just the second time in his career in which he missed this event. His best finish was third, in his 2006 debut. He has placed inside the top 10 on two other occasions.

His key stats aren’t aligned, but he came seventh at the Valspar Championship. His experience should lead to a decent return on investment.

Jamie Lovemark

Lovemark has played in a whopping 13 events so far this season, making nine cuts and racking up four top-10 finishes. He’s finished sixth on two occasions, including the Arnold Palmer Invitational just two weeks ago. He ranks 12th in DD, 30th in P5S and 50th in BoB.

He missed the cut here in 2014, but he enters with considerably better form this time around.

If Everything Goes Right

Andrew Loupe

Loupe comes into the Shell Houston Open with poor recent form, missing cuts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Valspar Championship. He had made five consecutive cuts previously, highlighted by a third-place finish at the CareerBuilder Challenge. He has three top 10s in 12 events this season, making him a true GPP target.

Following the model of 2015 winner J.B. Holmes, Loupe ranks 20th in DD, 36th in P5S and 22nd in BoB, while also ranking 214th in driving accuracy.

Gary Woodland

When looking solely at this week’s key stats, there may be no better option in the field than Woodland. He ranks second on tour in DD, 20th in SGT2G and 17th in P5S. This will be his fourth trip through this tournament, with a 13th-place finish in 2011 representing his best performance.

Jhonattan Vegas

Vegas has a poor history at this event. He’s made four appearances, with a top finish of 47th in 2012. While the success hasn’t been there, experience will be on his side. He ranks 28th in DD and 44th in P5S, with a respectable 64th in SGT2G.

Top Fades

Daniel Berger

Berger is coming off a T11 at the Valspar Championship and a T28 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship before that, but he had missed three of his previous four cuts. His lone appearance at this week’s tournament was a 25th-place finish last season. He’s priced at the higher end of the middle tier, but he lacks the experience at the course and consistent form in 2016.

Add in a questionable wrist injury, and he’s too much of a risk at his price.

Louis Oosthuizen

Following a second-place finish at the WGC-Dell Match Play, Oosthuizen will be on everyone’s radar. With Match Play winner Jason Day not in the field, a case could be made for him to be the most prominent golfer in the field not named Jordan Spieth, and his price reflects this.

Despite the success, Oosthuizen has had a well documented history of back woes – and with the Masters just one week away, he won’t hesitate to cut his week short in order to prepare.

Patrick Reed

Reed has finished ninth and seventh in his two most recent events, continuing what has been an uneven season. He has seven top 10s in his 11 events, but he also has a missed cut and a WD. Reed is also a fan favorite, typically leading to inflated ownership which is reflected in his weekly salary.

At his price and ownership, he’ll need to win. It’s unlikely to happen in this strong field.

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