The penultimate tournament of 2021 on the PGA Tour, the Houston Open, looks a wide-open affair with several players who are seemingly closely matched together on ability and keen to end their year with a victory.

Sixteen of the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings are teeing it up at Memorial Park Golf Course this week and here is our preview ahead of Thursday’s opening round.

Smith fancied to go well again

Since a tie for 33rd at The Open, Cameron Smith has played six tournaments on the PGA Tour and he’s finished inside the top 10 in four of them. A slow Sunday cost him any chance at the St. Jude Invitational, where he eventually finished in a tie for fifth, while an errant tee shot on the first play-off hole at The Northern Trust gifted Tony Finau the victory. A tie for 14th at the Tour Championship was another solid showing and he showed no signs of rust, despite taking well over a month off, when finishing in a tie for ninth at the CJ Cup. He shot four rounds in the 60s at the CJ Cup to finish 20 under par, showing the game is in fine fettle and if anything, you’d expect a better showing here with those four rounds under his belt.

Smith didn’t play in this event last year when it was staged at Memorial Park Golf Course for the first time, but the stats suggested hitting greens are going to be key and he ranks first in Greens In Regulation Percentage so far this term, so he should give his deadly putter plenty of good opportunities.

The Australian looks poised for another bold showing as he hunts for a sixth professional win at 25/1.

Other contenders

Sam Burns is the 16/1 favourite as he hunts a second win of the season and third of the year. He followed his win at the Sanderson Farms Championship with a tie for 15th at the Shriners and then a tie for fifth at the CJ Cup, showing he’s still hitting the ball really well. He finished seventh in this event 12 months ago, despite losing shots to the field on the greens, and he’s clearly a very likely contender once again.

There aren’t many hotter players in the field than Matthew Wolff. The American’s worst result in three starts of the new PGA Tour season is a tie for 17th at the Sanderson Farms, while his other two results saw him finish second at the Shriners and then finish fifth last week at Mayakoba. He’s another who looks close to getting back in the winners’ circle at 25/1.

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