The Back 9: Vivint Houston Open Preview & Picks

James Hahn of the United States plays his shot from the 12th tee during the second round of the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston on October 10, 2019 in Humble, Texas.

Welcome to The Back 9, BetMGM’s golf betting blog. Each week we’ll do a deep dive into the featured PGA Tour tournament detailing a course breakdown followed by a series of picks, including outright winners, finishing position props, and longshots. Without further ado, let’s get started with our first tournament, the Vivint Houston Open.

The course

This year’s Houston Open is different than before in that it’s changed location. Formerly played at the Golf Club of Houston, the tournament will now be played at Memorial Park Municipal Golf Course in Houston, Texas. The course itself is 7,432 yards long, a par 72, has Bermudagrass greens, and was recently renovated by James Doak and Brooks Koepka in 2019. So, what does this mean for bettors like yourselves? Because of its length, you should be targeting either good drivers of the golf ball or golfers who excel at longer approaches.


Russell Henley plays his second shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the Shell Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston on April 2, 2017 in Humble, Texas
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Russell Henley (+2200)

Henley enters this week’s Houston Open as one of the hottest golfers on the planet. In his past six starts on tour, Henley has recorded four top tens and hasn’t had a finish worse than 27th. This is largely due to his great approach game, as he ranks 8th on tour in greens in regulation. That, coupled with his love of Bermudagrass greens, should have you feeling confident in Henley. And if you’re more of a narrative bettor, Henley has also won at this event (albeit on a different course) in 2017, so the vibes should be high coming into this week.

James Hahn (+6600)

Much like Henley, Hahn comes into this week in torrid form, having finished top ten in each of his last three starts. Hahn has been a regular in the fairway and has used that positioning to throw darts at the green, ranking 7th on tour in both fairways hit and greens in regulation. Furthermore, Hahn also ranks an impressive 21st in proximity and 14th strokes gained tee-to-green. In other words, the guy is unconscious. Another reason to like Hahn this week is that he isn’t playing at Augusta next week – meaning that while other guys are using this week to “fine tune their game,” Hahn is looking for a statement win.


Lanto Griffin, T10 (+400)

Lanto is another guy who has won at this event in the past, breaking through for his first tour victory over Scott Harrington and Mark Hubbard in 2019. Although it’s great that he’s only one year removed from his win here, what’s even more encouraging about Lanto this week is his current form. His last two times out, Lanto has recorded an 11th and 7th place finish. He’s probably a little chalky this week, but it’s hard to deny the history and recent results for a generally underrated golfer.

Stewart Cink, T20 (+240)

Simply put, Stew Cink has turned back the hands of time. In his last four starts, Cink has tallied finishes of 4th, 64th, 12th, and a win at the Safeway Open. What’s even more remarkable is that Cink’s son, Reagan, has caddied for him in three of those finishes (4th, 12th, and win) and will once again tend the bag for his dad this week. So, how has he been doing it? Cink currently leads the tour in par 3 scoring, a great sign heading to a course that has five par threes. Oh, and did I mention he finished T9 at this event last year? Tons of reasons to love Stew this week.

Longshots/Cheek(s) of the week

Beau Hossler lines up a putt on the second green during the final round of the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston on April 1, 2018 in Humble, Texas.
(Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images)

Dylan Fritelli (+9000) and Beau Hossler (+12500)

For longshots this week, let’s turn to two former University of Texas Longhorns, Dylan Fritelli and Beau Hossler. Fritelli is a guy who wields an impressive tee-to-green game, 28th in this field, as well as impressive distance off the tee, 16th in this field. He’s also coming off an 11th place finish at the Zozo and has had good results at corollary courses such as Sedgefield, Bay Hill and PGA West. Hossler, on the other hand, is a tricky golfer to figure out as his game doesn’t really cater to a specific layout. There has, however, been some consistency in that he’s made six straight cuts, plays well in the state of Texas, and rolls the ball fourth-best of anyone in this field per Those constants, coupled with his long price tag, make me comfortable taking a shot on him this week.

All odds taken from the BetMGM Sportsbook.