Hello from Fort Lauderdale! Ponte Vedra is now in the rear view of my own personal November Florida swing, and 280 miles later down i95, I’m shacked up here for the rest of the week. Fortunately, mobile sports betting was legalized in Florida within the last week or so, so I was able to get my bets in without having to call in any favors. Regardless, I was already committed to a tight card of big names up top, so I won’t personally have any exposure to the longshots in this article from an outright perspective. In my opinion, given the difficult conditions, this is an event that will be won by a player sub-40/1, so I’m limiting my outright exposure to that range only. With that said, we’ve only seen four rounds of data at Memorial Park, so it’s hard to feel certain about any exact outcome this week, making some bombs in the field still viable.
In lieu of another final thoughts article, I’m just going to cut to the chase and let you know that I’m betting Sam Burns, Brooks Koepka, and Patrick Reed this week and that’s it. You may be thinking “Why are you giving up on Mito now that he’s 80/1?”. The truth is I still love the fit for Mito as an elite T2G player, I’m just choosing to prioritize the top of the board from an outright perspective, so I ran out of units to dish around. Because of that, I still saved room on the card for Mito FRL, to keep the faith with my boy this Thursday. Anyway, here’s a look at my favorite value plays this week at the 2022 HPE Houston Open.
DFS Values & Betting Bombs
Pricing from Draft Kings
Keith Mitchell (+15000, $7,000)
If I was going to dig deep for an outright bomb this week, it was going to be for Keith Mitchell at 150/1. Mitchell has been an extreme boom or bust player lately as over his last 8 starts, he has three T10s and five finishes outside the Top 50, making him an appealing GPP or outright play.
With only one year of data at Memorial Park, I’m looking more closely at comp course history this week. If I could only pick one comp course to project success from as a reference for this week, it would be PGA National, where Mitchell secured the only PGA Tour win of his career at the 2019 Honda Classic. Both are difficult Par 70 courses on fast Bermuda greens which put an emphasis on OTT, favoring longer hitters. Mitchell enters this week top 10 in SG: OTT, Driving Distance, BoB Gained, Scrambling Gained, and P5 Scoring, all very encouraging at the discounted $7K price.
Francesco Molinari (+18000, $6,600)
Last year, I scrolled down towards the bottom of the Vivint Houston Open odds board, saw Francesco Molinari’s name, said “Huh, what’s British Open champion & 5-time Major Top 10 finisher Francesco Molinari doing all the way down here?”. So I instantly bet him T20 without doing any further research. And it worked out! He finish T15 here last year entering the tournament with no form whatsoever. While the immediate recent form continues to be bad for Molinari, he has picked up three T10 finishes as well as a T13 at The Open in the year since.
As I touched on in the tournament preview, Augusta is not a comp course for Memorial Park, but the one year sample size showed us a very high correlation between Top 20 finishes here, and perennial high finishers at The Masters. That Top 20 list at last year’s Houston Open included Hideki Matsuyama, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, and Francesco Molinari, who almost beat Tiger Woods in the 2019 Masters. The easy rebuttal to this trend is to say that these are all just really good players who would play well anywhere, and that’s probably true too, but I think the common ground between the two courses is really the emphasis on a good and versatile short game. While the putter will run hot and cold, Molinari’s Top 10 ranks in SG: ARG and Sand Saves Gained should keep him at around par and on the good side of the cut line.
Jason Dufner (+25000, $6,300)
Duff Daddy has been a Tee To Green machine for the last half year. Unfortunately he’s been hemorrhaging strokes on the greens over that same span, which has kept him buried in the low $6K range. But at this price in a field where I want to be heavily exposed in DFS to multiple top names, I’m going to be very over-weight on Jason Dufner, who ranks 18th SG: T2G over the last 6 months. Unlike Kyle Stanley who is also cheap, very good T2G, and a liability on the greens, I see more hope with Dufner, who is a Major Champion & 5-time PGA Tour champion, and has quietly gained strokes putting in two of his last 3 measured starts.
Jason Dufner joins Luke List as the only two players in this field to rank Top 30 in SG: OTT, SG: APP, and SG: ARG, which is the well rounded profile you want to see entering a difficult scoring track like Memorial Park. Beyond those primary stats, he’s also Top 25 in Fairways Gained, Opportunities Gained, BoB Gained, Bogey Avoidance, Scrambling, and GIRs Gained. The only thing that’s missing for Dufner is the putting, and with recent glimpses of hope there, he is just a positive putting week away from making a serious run atop the leaderboard.
Trey Mullinax (+30000, $6,200)
More like Trey Mucinex, cuz this guy has been fucking sick over the last couple events, am I right fellas? That’s actually not all that true, but he has shown early spurts since gaining his Tour card for the new season, highlighted by a T4 finish recently at the Sanderson Farms.
Mullinax profiles as a long hitter who can consistently gain off the tee and reliably make putts. I have a soft spot in my heart for a player like that because it’s exactly how I just played at Sawgrass a couple days ago, and it’s a formula that can work on the right track, such as this one. What I love most about Mullinax though is that he rated out above average in each of the Top 10 categories which correlated with success at last year’s Houston Open. Those categories include Eagles Gained, P5: 500-550, P5: 600-650, SG: T2G, P3: 225+, SG: Par 4, SG: SG, BoB Gained, Birdies Gained, and Bogeys Avoided. The only other players who can say the same this week are Sungjae Im, Aaron Wise, Tyrrell Hatton, and Taylor Pendrith.
I don’t think he has the outright win equity, and he’s pretty volatile considering we haven’t really seen him perform yet on a difficult scoring track, but at the near minimum price in DFS, I’ll be looking to have some exposure.