Bet the PGA: Mike Kern picks the Houston Open – likes Tyrrell Hatton, longshots James Hahn and Denny McCarthy
Tyrrell Hatton tees off at the fifth hole during the first round of the CJ Cup golf tournament at Shadow Creek Golf Course, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in North Las Vegas. Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP

Bet the PGA: Mike Kern picks the Houston Open – likes Tyrrell Hatton, longshots James Hahn and Denny McCarthy

The Houston Open runs this week from Thursday to Sunday.

Last week in Bermuda we had Doc Redman as our top pick at 22-1. And he was leading after the third round. But the best he could do was finish fourth. The good news is we still had him to get a top 10 at 3-1 and a top five at 6-1. So at least we got some of our money back, hopefully, which has been happening a lot lately. We’d obviously much rather have the outright winner. But it’s better than nothing, right?

Now it’s on to the Houston Open, which again is being played before the Masters. Only difference is we’re doing it in November. The field will be much better than it was last week. So here goes:

Dustin Johnson is the favorite, at 6-1. But this is his first start since testing positive after finishing sixth at the U.S. Open. So there’s that. Tony Finau, who never wins but is often in the mix, is 16-1. As is Tyrrell Hatton, who’s playing as well as anyone right now. Russell Henley and Hideki Matsuyama are 18-1. Henley won this in 2017 on a different course, and is coming off two Top 10s.

Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler are 20-1. Koepka helped assist in the renovation of the 100-year old layout, one of only two munis to host on the PGA Tour schedule. Keep in mind that a lot of longshots have been winning since the restart.

Sungjae Im is 28-1, followed by Jason Day, Zach Johnson and Adam Scott at 33-1. Sergio Garcia and defending champion Lanto Griffin are 40-1, along with Si Woo Kim. Doc Redman is 45-1. Brian Harman, Corey Conners and Emiliano Grillo are 50-1. Jordan Spieth is 55-1. Stewart Cink, coming off a solid effort, is 65-1. So are Shane Lowry, Harold Varner and Erik van Rooyen.

James Hahn and Denny McCarthy are two of five at 70-1, a group that also includes Lee Westwood. Hahn has three straight top 10s. McCarthy tied for fourth last week and had a tie for sixth last month.

There are other names of note. They’re usually is. Phil Mickelson is 100-1. And 9-1 to get a top 10, which could be a stretch but you never know with guys like that. Sometimes.

OK, while the temptation to go with Koepka is there, and wouldn’t that be a great storyline heading into Augusta, I’m going to pass. And I’m not sure why. Instead as my top choice I’m going to go with that Tyrrell Hatton, at 16-1. And of course back him up with a little something on 4-1 for a top five and 2.25-1 for a top 10. He could be the best player in the field at the moment. But I couldn’t blame you if you went with Koepka instead. That’s good odds on someone of that pedigree. I also couldn’t blame you for going with Russell Henley. And he’s not qualified for the Masters. So that would make for a great story too.

In the middle tier I really don’t have a feeling that sticks out. I will say Doc Redman is 9-1 to get a top five, and 4.5 for a top 10. So that could be worth an investment. And at 45 maybe a few bucks to even win. And while I don’t think Lanto Griffin will repeat, he too could be worth a look for a top five or 10.

As for a longshot, I’ll give you two: James Hahn and Denny McCarthy. Both are playing well, and they’re 70-1. And 12-1 for a top five and 6-1 for a top 10. I’m guessing at least one of them could be capable of at least that.

Good luck. See you at Augusta, where all the big boys will be trying to get a green jacket.

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