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Why scores at Texas Children’s Houston Open could be lower than ever

2024 Texas Children's Houston Open

HOUSTON — Fans tuning in to the Houston Open this week are in for plenty of changes since the last time the tournament was held.

First, there’s a new title sponsor: Texas Children’s Hospital. Previous sponsors include Shell, Vivint, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cadence Bank, but this is the first of a five-year partnership for Texas Children’s and the Houston Open. There will also be increased purses for the duration of the contract.

Then, it’s being played at a new time of year for the first time at Memorial Park Golf Club, site of the tournament since 2020. For three years, it was part of the fall schedule. After having no tournament in 2023, it moved to the slot WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play used to occupy in the new PGA Tour schedule.

Although the venue is the same, the golf course is completely different.

Houston Open: Odds, picks to win | Photos

“Back in the fall it was playing quite fast, the ball was running, the
greens were firm,” defending champion Tony Finau said. “I don’t think that’s going to be the case as much this week.”

In the past, the Houston Open at Memorial Park rewarded accuracy off the tee because of thick rough. This year, there’s not as big of a premium for finding the fairway because the course was overseeded with ryegrass. Then there are the greens, which as Finau alluded to, can be challenging if the course speeds up.

2024 Texas Children's Houston Open

Signage near the 16th green during a practice round prior to the Texas Children’s Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course on March 27, 2024, in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Raj Mehta/Getty Images)

This week, however, someone who is strong with their iron game is likely to rise to the top.

“It used to be some holes where it was really, really important to hit
the fairway, especially with the Bermuda rough,” World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler said. “Now there’s not as much of a premium placed on that. You’ll see a lot more drivers, people hitting it really far and it will be much
more of I’d say a second shot golf course this time around.”

In 2022, Finau set the tournament scoring record at Memorial Park, shooting 16-under 264 for the week. Players think there’s a good chance that is broken this week.

“I would say it’s going to play a little bit easier,” World No. 4 Wyndham Clark said. “In the fall it was very tough because you would hit it in the rough and it was so hard to judge lies. And then around the greens was, you would have into the grain, dormant Bermuda so…


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