2022 Houston Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
HAVING worked so hard for so long to make his mark on the PGA Tour, Jason Korkrak won last year’s Houston Open for his third success in a remarkable 13-month period after going 232 starts without a victory.
But the American will not be back to defend his title as he has joined LIV Golf. He won the title in superb fashion 12 months ago, making four successive birdies on the back nine on his way to a 65 and a two-shot victory overtaking Scottie Scheffler and Martin Trainer with six holes to play.
Scheffler, who was still looking for his maiden win, had a two-shot lead when he made the turn. He didn't hit a green in regulation until the 15th, making three soft bogeys that left him too far behind to make a late run.
What a difference a year makes for Scheffler. He won four times in 2022, including the 2022 Masters, and claimed the top spot in the world rankings. He has now been usurped by Rory McIlroy and will return to Houston looking to get back to winning ways, buoyed by his third place finish at Mayakoba.
A strong field also includes Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Justin Rose, Sepp Straka, Sam Burns and Sahith Theegala.
Rose is a 10-time winner on the PGA Tour but has endured a miserable run.During the 2021-22 season he missed five cuts in 18 starts and had just two top-10 finishes. He began the new season having fallen outside the top 70 in the world rankings. The Englishman has been working hard on his game and is determined to get things back on track.
Burns has been a revelation. Still only 26 years old, he won three times in 2021-22, and also enjoyed eight top 10s and 14 top-25 finishes in just 24 starts. If Burns turns up with his A-game he contends. Pure and simple. And he began the new season with a tie for seventh behind Rory McIlroy at the CJ Cup.
But the man they all have to beat is Matsuyama. The former Masters winner is a model of consistency these days. He won the ZOZO Championship and Sony Open. He was also fourth at the US Open and tied 14th at The Masters. And he has continued his good form into the new season.
The Houston Open was first played in 1946, with the inaugural event captured by Byron Nelson at River Oaks Country Club. Other notable winners throughout the history of the event include World Golf Hall of Fame members Arnold Palmer, Jack Burke, Jr., Bobby Locke, Cary Middlecoff, Gary Player, Curtis Strange, Payne Stewart, Fred Couples and Vijay Singh.
It was won in 2015 by JB Holmes, in 2016 by Jim Herman, in 2017 by Russell Henley, in 2018 by Ian Poulter, in 2019 by Lanto Griffin, in 2020 by Carlos Ortiz and in 2021 by Jason Kokrak
Memorial Park underwent a major renovation programme in 2019, overseen by Tom Doak. One of the most intriguing features of the course is the state-of-the-art storm water irrigation system designed to capture and retain 80 million gallons of storm water for irrigation purposes removing the golf course's irrigation from the city's potable water system. It is a public course - locals pay just $30 for 18 holes
Hideki Matsuyama won twice during the 2021-22 season and has continued to show decent form in the new season. He is ready to win again. Sam Burns had a sensational season and was in contention again at the recent CJ Cup. And keep an eye on Tony Finau, who now reels off top-10 finishes for fun.2017 winner Russell Henley will also fancy his chances after winning the Mayakoba Classic.
Hideki Matsuyama. Has no weaknesses
Scottie Scheffler. Desperate to reclaim top spot
Justin Rose. Make or break season
Five To Follow
Hideki Matsuyama. Brilliant ball striker
Scottie Scheffler. Fabulous putter
Justin Rose. Needs to get his career back on track
Sam Burns..A birdie machine
Tony Finau. Mr Consistency
Five Outsiders To Watch
Jimmy Walker. Looking to rediscover his best form
Brendan Steele. Wonderful short game
Travis Vick. Hugely promising young American
Cole Hammer. Had a sensational amateur career
Zach Johnson. Looking to prove there’s still life in the old dog
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