Expert Picks for Shell Houston Open
Brendon de Jonge [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #74
We’ve been more than happy to drive the de Jonge bandwagon this season, coming off an impressive surge in 2010 to serve the fantasy owners as one of the most underrated options in 2011. He enters Houston with momentum at his back and a desire to improve on a positive Houston experience from last season.
Ben Crane [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #106
Crane has earned respect as one of the best American duffers on the scene and he enters Houston touting some of the best momentum available for hire. His history in Houston is a mixed bag, but he found his groove late in the event last season. This year's return could bring high expectations.
We continue to tab Villegas as one of the most concerning members of golf’s elite class and the results support our lack of faith. He’s on the verge of falling out of the top 50 in the World Golf Rankings, he has yet to post a positive PGA finish this season, and his Redstone history fails to support hope this week.
With a humble list of the game’s top commodities enlisted to do work in Houston this week, we start our reach into the course-specific suggestions early with Micheel. He owns an impressive Redstone resume, including a fight to earn the win in 2010.
Stuart Appleby [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #198
Appleby is a seasoned vet with a resume suggesting he deserves much more respect than he receives, but recent campaigns have been troubled. However, there was a strong rebound in 2010 followed by a positive start to 2011. Add a lengthy Houston resume (though checkered) and you'll find reason for hope.
Padraig Harrington [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #178
The fall from grace continues for Harrington as the season of multiple majors fades quickly into the rearview mirror. The majority of his appearances end in frustration these days, but his skills are among the best against this particular field. Still, buyers should beware.
Retief Goosen [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #122
We continue to squeeze the names recognized even by casual golf fans into the rankings, and we continue to tab those names with warning. Goosen hasn’t been as successful as hoped over recent weeks and we view his leap into the field in Houston more as an attempt to get right before The Masters rather than a push to utilize confidence.
The man is from Texas, he holds respect as one of the more consistent veteran duffers on the Tour, and he joins our list of 30 every time he joins the field. However, Verplank's lack of success early in 2011 has introduced worry while a lack of noteworthy surge at the links of Redstone does nothing to raise our hopes for the week ahead.
Trahan tends to be a bit manic as a PGA commodity for fantasy owners, but he also tends to surge on long courses with strong fields. He's done well in Houston in the past, he's done well in similar spots this season, and with a limited list of trusted options for Redstone, Trahan is on the radar.
Marino has become a regular during Sunday PGA coverage over recent weeks as he continues to push for a 2011 win. His momentum may tempt but we worry as his history on this track is lacking. At the end of the day, Marino is as solid an option as any among the game’s second class this week.
J.B. Holmes [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #165
We may have Holmes too low on our list of candidates for the week. He goes long, he goes low, and he is more than familiar with this Redstone track. However, we are concerned with the events we witnessed at the Arnold Palmer last week and we would rather catch that momentum swinging forward than back.
Jimmy Walker [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #19
Walker has been one of the best surprises for fantasy owners this season. However, he’s fallen on hard times with consecutive missed cuts and we worry the wave of trust may be falling. If he falls this week, the bandwagon will empty.