Sam Burns won the Sanderson Farms Championship in October by churning out greens in regulation – taking the trophy despite putting poorly – and his ball-striking class should make the Louisiana man a strong contender in this week’s Houston Open.
The 12/1 about Burns seems a fair price when you consider how well he has performed before and after that Sanderson Farms success.
The 25-year-old has taken his game to a new level, making his breakthrough in the Valspar Championship and losing a playoff for the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational.
A pair of weekend 66s meant fifth place in a high-class CJ Cup last time out and there is every reason to expect more birdies from one of the sport’s hottest players over the next four days.
Burns led the Houston Open at Memorial Park after rounds two and three last year, dropping to seventh on the Sunday.
He was a PGA Tour maiden for that event, though, and has won twice since, so if he gets his name on the leaderboard down the stretch this time, expect it to stay there.
Home-State Hero Seeking Tour Breakthrough
The main danger to Burns this week may turn out to be Scottie Scheffler, who is teeing up in his home state after finding top form in the last fortnight.
Scheffler almost made his PGA Tour breakthrough in Texas in March, finishing runner-up to Billy Horschel in the WGC-Match Play, and he is back in the Lone Star State this week with plenty of confidence.
In the lead-up to last week’s World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, Scheffler fired a round of 58 in practice at Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston.
That amazing effort – an eagle and 11 birdies for a 13-under-par score – was followed by a fourth-placed finish at El Camaleon on Sunday.
Scheffler topped the greens-in-regulation statistics in Mexico and has made the short trip from his Dallas home to Houston full of purpose.
He finished 32nd in last year’s Houston Open, but was distracted by a Masters debut the following week. The 18/1 about a fully focused Scheffler winning at Memorial Park this year seems full of juice.
Harmon Pupil May Be Ready to Contend
Scheffler is officially the best maiden on the PGA Tour – according to the world rankings – but another trophy-less star to be respected is Maverick McNealy.
Butch Harmon, who was the coach who helped Tiger Woods become the greatest player of all time, teaches McNealy.
The Californian is obviously not going to be the next Tiger – there may never be anyone who can match the achievements of the old master – but McNealy should become a prolific PGA Tour champion. And the Houston Open may be where his success starts.
This quality putter has twice finished runner-up on the Tour this year, most recently when leading the Fortinet Championship for a long way in September.
He closed with a 64 for 11th place in Mexico on Sunday and the 36/1 Houston offer is worth a second glance.
*All odds correct at time of writing