(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Ola! Friends and degenerates! — We have almost made it. Masters week is nearly upon us. There’s just one more week of (almost) meaningless golf to tolerate.

The Shell Houston Open is here to fill up or final Sunday sans Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo waxing poetic about the real beautiful game and the paradise that is Augusta National Golf Club.

To say this week is meaningless wouldn’t be correct — which is why I said, “almost.” The fact of the matter is, of the 140+ players teeing it up this week only 19 of them already have their bags packed for Augusta. The means there’s a whole lot of hungry players trying to score an invite at the last minute.

A win at the Shell Houston Open doesn’t necessarily predict the winner of the Masters — in fact, it does almost the opposite. No player has ever won the Shell Houston Open en route to donning a green jacket the following week. So — whoever gets it done this week should be black listed next.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Just a scant 96 hours (give or take) from now, it’ll be Masters week — and we can all rejoice. In the mean time, we can line our pockets with a little extra scratch. Here’s a look at the can’t-miss, no-doubt, mortal locks for the Shell Houston Open:

Houston Open
Golf Club of Houston – Humble, Texas
March 29 – April 1, 2018

ODDS to Win:
Justin Rose 10/1
Rickie Fowler 10/1
Jordan Spieth 10/1
Phil Mickelson 12/1
Henrik Stenson 12/1
Daniel Berger 20/1
Luke List 25/1
Russell Henley 25/1
Tony Finau 25/1
Matt Kuchar 30/1
Rafael Cabrera Bello 30/1
Steve Stricker 40/1
Charles Howell III 40/1
Byeong Hun An 40/1
Thomas Pieters 50/1
Jason Dufner 50/1
Keegan Bradley 40/1
Emiliano Grillo 50/1
Jamie Lovemark 50/1
Brandt Snedeker 60/1
Shubhankar Sharma 60/1
Bill Haas 60/1
Jason Kokrak 60/1
Chez Reavie 50/1
Dylan Frittelli 60/1
J.B. Holmes 60/1
Bud Cauley 60/1
Patrick Rodgers 60/1
Chris Kirk 60/1
Russell Knox 60/1
Ian Poulter 80/1
Scott Piercy 80/1
Ryan Palmer 60/1
James Hahn 80/1
Harris English 80/1
Jhonattan Vegas 80/1
Brice Garnett 80/1
Kelly Kraft 80/1
Chesson Hadley 80/1
Sean O’Hair 80/1
Lee Westwood 100/1
Martin Kaymer 100/1
Shane Lowry 100/1
Paul Dunne 100/1
Seungsu Han 100/1
Peter Uihlein 100/1
Rory Sabbatini 100/1
Kevin Streelman 100/1
Lucas Glover 100/1
Grayson Murray 100/1
Aaron Wise 100/1
Corey Conners 100/1
Brandon Harkins 100/1
John Huh 100/1
William McGirt 100/1
Nick Watney 125/1
Scott Stallings 125/1
Beau Hossler 125/1
Seamus Power 150/1
Aaron Baddeley 150/1
C.T. Pan 150/1
Matt Jones 150/1
Keith Mitchell 150/1
Sung Kang 150/1
Sam Saunders 150/1
Kevin Tway 150/1
Michael Kim 150/1
Dominic Bozzelli 150/1
Chris Stroud 200/1
Hunter Mahan 200/1
K.J. Choi 200/1
Chad Campbell 200/1
Harold Varner III 200/1
Padraig Harrington 250/1
Retief Goosen 250/1
Geoff Ogilvy 250/1
Ernie Els 300/1
Yuta Ikeda 300/1
Jonathan Randolph 300/1
Field (all others) 10/1

Mortal Locks:

Phil Mickelson — No player has ever won the Shell Houston Open en route to a Masters victory — we’ve established that — but if anyone can do it, it’s probably Phil Mickelson. Not only does Lefty boast a brilliant track record at the Country Club of Houston, he’s also donned the green jacket three times. Combine these things with his stellar play recently and it’s almost as if he’s turned back the clock. A win next week at Augusta would break Jack’s record as oldest champion. Don’t be surprised if Phil makes a splash this week in Houston. At 10/1, you won’t get rich — but you will be right.

Russell Henley — Successfully defending your championship title is one of the most difficult things to do in all of professional sport — especially on the PGA Tour. Russell Henley will attempt to do just that this week at the Houston Open. He certainly seems poised to do so? Few can boast such a strong record at one track and he’s been swinging well in recent weeks, seemingly on the verge of a breakthrough. At 25/1, you won’t regret a bet for Henley.

Bang for Your Buck: 

Dylan Frittelli — One of the best young players on the European Tour this year has been Dylan Frittelli. His success across the pond hasn’t translated to big success in the U.S. just yet, but he hasn’t exactly been garbage in his recent stretch on the PGA Tour. At 60/1, you’ll be glad you took a chance.

Chesson Hadley — At the beginning of the 2017-’18 season, Chesson Hadley seemed like someone who would win and win early. He’s the reigning Web.com Tour player of the year and has already won on Tour. Lately, however, he’s struggled. Like so many others, he wants to make the trip down Magnolia Lane next week — but will likely need to win to make that happen. At 80/1, I’m betting he figures things out.

Fun Under $5:

Beau Hossler — Former Texas Longhorn, Beau Hossler, got off to a good start in 2018 but has since cooled. In his last three starts, he’s finished T-66 and missed two cuts. That said, he’s playing teeing it up this week in a state he’s had a lot of success and has really helped his golf career. He wants to get into the Masters next week, so expect to see him play some aggressive golf this week. At 125/1, if it pays off for Beau, it’ll pay off for you.

There you have it, friends and degenerates. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pack and then re-pack and then re-pack again my gear for Augusta. While y’all are at home watching from your dreary palaces, I’ll be on the grounds — rubbing shoulders with the world’s elite.

Until next time, go and choose wisely…


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