Johnson Looking to Shake off Rust

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Dustin Johnson has been installed as the favourite on his return to action at this week's Houston Open.

US golf ace Dustin Johnson

This week Dustin Johnson tees up for the first time since finishing sixth in the US Open at the end of September, the world number one returning to action after a health scare.

Johnson withdrew from the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek after testing positive for Covid-19, then he was unable to take his place in the Zozo Championship the following week, still suffering the after-effects of the illness.

Punters taking 7/1 about Johnson for the Houston Open this week know they are backing the best player in the field, but they are gambling on whether he is back at full throttle after Covid. He would have needed to quarantine after his positive test and may not have done much practice since.

The last five months have been hugely successful for Johnson – with victories in the Travelers Championship, the Northern Trust, the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup – but there must be a chance that the Covid break has stunted his form.

Houston Open viewers will be assessing Johnson not just with a view to betting on this week’s event, but also with consideration to next week’s Masters at Augusta.

Hovland With a Point to Prove

Viktor Hovland may appeal to plenty of punters this week at 22/1 – because the brilliant Norwegian youngster is entirely focused on the Houston Open.

While many of the big names at Memorial Park, Houston, have one eye on next week’s Masters – the final Major of the year – Hovland does not have any distractions. Remarkably, the world number 24 has failed to qualify for the Masters, and even victory in Houston will not be enough for him to gain entry into the Georgia showpiece.

Hovland, knowing he will have his feet up watching the TV next week, can give his all in Houston and a second PGA Tour title may be the result. Hovland has played in 14 events post-lockdown and has yet to miss a cut, finishing third in the Workday Charity Open.

The 23-year-old, a college superstar, made his PGA Tour breakthrough in the Puerto Rico Open in February and a follow-up success could be on the cards soon.

Defending Champion Could Repeat

Lanto Griffin won the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston last season, shedding his PGA Tour maiden tag, and the 32-year-old has found top form in time to have high hopes of a successful title defence.

Griffin has finished seventh in the CJ Cup and 11th in the Zozo Championship in his last two starts, revelling in elite company, and the Californian can contend for a second Houston success on Sunday.

Griffin is available at 40/1 for more Houston glory. Both of his Korn Ferry Tour victories came fairly close to Texas – in Tennessee and Alabama – and the Florida-based swinger seems to enjoy competing in the south of his country.

If the big names flop this week, Griffin, who can usually be relied upon for strong putting, could be waiting to take advantage.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Steve has been a Racing Post columnist, golf tipster and punter for most of his working life. One of the most well-known tipsters in the country, his columns featuring golf betting tips have been must read material for years.

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