The PGA Tour heads north, back across the border, to southeast Texas for the 73rd edition of the Houston Open.
Contested at Memorial Park Municipal Golf Course, the Texas stop is the eighth tournament of the 2021-22 season, and the penultimate event of the wrap-around portion of the campaign.
Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz will return to defend his maiden tour title, and will do so against a fairly stout field, particularly for a fall event.
As we do each week, here’s a round up of information and data points to prep you for the week in “H-Town.”
Title Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise
PGA Tour Debut: 1946
Event Week: 8 of 43
Dates: Nov. 11-14, 2021
Where: Houston, Texas
Course: Memorial Park Municipal GC
Distance: Par 70, 7432 yards
Architect: John Bredemus (1936)
Reno: Tom Doak, Brooks Koepka (2019)
Field: 128 players, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,350,000
Defending Champion: Carlos Ortiz
How to Follow the Houston Open
TELEVISION: Thu-Sun: 1-4 p.m. ET (GOLF Channel)
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thu-Fri: 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. ET (Featured Groups)
RADIO: Thu-Fri: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM)
Houston Open History
As one of the original four Texas stop on the touir The Houston Open is one of the longest-running PGA Tour events, with its inaugural tournament teeing off in 1946. It’s had star power from the very beginning with Byron Nelson winning by two over Ben Hogan in that first year, and South African legend Bobby Locke taking the title in its second edition.
Over the years, other champions have included Hall of Famers such as Cary Middlecoff, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Curtis Strange, Payne Stewart, Raymond Floyd, Vijah Singh, and Phil Mickelson.
Singh and Strange are the only three-time winners, with seven other players having won twice including Palmer and Middlecoff, among others.
From 2007 until 2020, the Houston Open was contested the week prior to The Masters, where it offered the last ticket (with a win) to get into the field at Augusta National. With a move to the fall portion of the schedule, the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio now holds that spot on the schedule.
The tournament has always been contested in the Houston area, but has bounced around between different venues with The Woodlands (1975-2002), and The Golf Club of Houston (2003-2019) being the mainstays in the modern era. In 2020, it moved to a renovated and restored Memorial Park Golf Course, which hosted the tournament for a dozen years, beginning in 1951.
Shell Oil Company, the title sponsor since 1992, ended its affiliation with the tour following the 2017 edition. The tournament went without a corporate sponsor in 2018 and 2019. Little-known Vivint stepped in for the 2020 edition, with Hewlett Packard signing on for 2021 and beyond.
History: Recent Winners
2020: Carlos Ortiz (-13)
2019: Lanto Griffin (-14)
2018: Ian Poulter (-19)
2017: Russell Henley (-20)
2016: Jim Herman (-15)
2015: J.B. Holmes (−16)
2014: Matt Jones (−15)
Low Under-Par: -22 (Vijay Singh, 2002)
Low Score: 266 (Lee Trevino & Curtis Strange, 1980; Singh, 2002)
The Golf Course: Memorial Park Golf Course
Memorial Park Golf Course, located in downtown Houston, is known as one of the very best municipal golf courses in the United States.
The course originally began as a 9-hole track with sand greens, built near the hospital at Camp Logan for use by convalescent soldiers (1912).
In 1935, following the closing of the hospital, golf course architect John Bredemus redesigned the course, making it an 18-holer. It opened in July of 1936 and, according to legend, Bredemus remarked that this was his “greatest golf course ever.”
It was the home of the Houston Open from 1951 to 1963, and through the years, it hosted the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Cary Middlecoff, and Jimmy Demaret.
In 1994, on behalf of Mayor Bob Lanier, a campaign began to restore the golf course. Great effort went to preserving its historical quality while allowing for proper maintenance for the future of the course. In 1995, the newly renovated 600-acre course opened with a lighted driving range, putting and chipping greens, and a beautiful new clubhouse facility.
Another renovation took place in late 2019: funded by the non-profit Astros Golf Foundation, the $18.5 million project has produced an even greater Memorial Park golf track.
Redesigned by world renowned architect, Tom Doak, the golf course now stretches to 7,292 yards and includes five par 5s (for amateurs).
“The course boasts strategic bunkering, and unique green contours with dramatic short-grass runoffs – making it a second-shot golf course,” according to the PGA Tour’s First Look.
Doak rose to the challenge by creating a municipal golf course that can be played by both tour professionals and the general public. Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka was the PGA Tour consultant on the project.
Houston Open Field
The field in Houston may be thin in terms of elite stars, with Brooks Koepka the only true headliner, but it is extremely deep in what could be called the tour’s upper middle class.
In fact there are 25 players who are ranked in the next 40 positions in the Official Golf World Rankings, from No. 12 Tony Finau and No. 23 Patrick Reed to No. 33 Max Homa and No. 41 Adam Scott.
Additional top-50 ranked names to watch include Sam Burns (No. 16), Tyrrell Hatton (19), Scottie Scheffler (21), Sungjae Im, (23), Joaquin Niemann (30), Matthew Wolff (31), Lee Westwood (37), and defending champion Carlos Ortiz (No. 49), among many others.
Aaron Wise, Gary Woodland, Henrik Stenson, Shane Lowry, Marc Leishman, Jason Day, and Ryan Palmer are some of the other familiar names in Houston.
Top-5 Betting Favorites
1. Sam Burns (16-1)
2. Cameron Smith (18-1)
2. Scottie Scheffler (18-1)
2. Tyrrell Hatton (18-1)
5. Sungjae Im (20-1)
Full Field & Odds
Houston Open | Memorial Park GC | Houston, TX | Nov. 11-14, 2021
Up Next On Tour
Following the Houston Open, the PGA Tour heads to Georgia for the 12th edition of the RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club, the final event of the nine-tournament wrap-around portion of the 2022 schedule.
The 2022 season will resume in January with the traditional swing through Hawaii before moving to the West Coast.
Nov. 18-21 The RSM Classic (St. Simons Island, GA)
Jan. 06-09 Sentry Tournament of Champions (Kapalua HI)
Jan. 13-16 Sony Open in Hawaii (Honolulu, HI)
Jan. 20-23 The American Express (La Quinta, CA)
Jan. 26-29 Farmers Insurance Open (La Jolla, CA)
Feb. 03-06 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (Pebble Beach, CA)
Credits: Getty Images, PGA Tour Media