Houston Open Review: Henley Edges Out Sung

Henley produced a brilliant round to win the Houston Open

Russell Henley produced an exceptional final round to secure his first title on the PGA Tour in three years to triumph at the Houston Open.

The 27-year-old began the day four strokes off the pace of leader Sung Kang following a three-under round of 69 on Saturday.

Henley was able to capitalise on the South Korean’s average performance on the final day of the competition to snatch the victory away from him.

As a result, the American has confirmed his place at The Masters next week, where he will be determined to build on his victory and capture his first major crown.

We’ll now take a look back at Henley’s winning round and see how it has affected his and the other key performers of the week’s odds for the first slam of the year at Augusta.

Russell Henley

Henley produced a brilliant round to win the Houston Open

Credit: Getty Images

The 27-year-old had an uphill challenge to reel in Sung at the top of the leaderboard, although his quest had been boosted with back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th.

Henley was aggressive from the off in his bid to catch the South Korean and signalled his intent by birdieing the second hole of the day and then sank another key putt on the fourth to pull within two strokes.

The American stormed into the lead, producing some outstanding shots on the back nine, reeling off three birdies on the spin on the sixth, seventh and eighth. However, a loose tee shot on the ninth brought about a double-bogey, leaving him once again with work to do to rally.

He bounced back with a birdie on the 10th to regain his momentum and it enabled Henley to launch another assault down the stretch. The 27-year-old produced sublime golf on three consecutive holes to notch three birdies, taking him ahead of Kang once again.

This time he did not allow his lead to slip by firing in another birdie on the 17th. He did make an error on the 18th to drop a shot, leaving a tense moment for Kang to finish, although his three-shot lead proved to be too much for the South Korean to overturn.

The victory was Henley’s first since his win at the Honda Classic in 2014, and he could capitalise in his good form by taking on the challenge of The Masters next week. At +15000   with PaddyPower, the 27-year-old is an intriguing option to claim the Green Jacket.

Sung Kang

Sung headed into the competition on the final day with a three-stroke lead over Fowler. The 29-year-old was aiming to close out his first win on the PGA Tour, but could not produce his best golf at the vital moments, enduring an even-par round.

He started off well with a birdie on the fourth, sinking an incredible putt from 20ft to calm any nerves. However, he took a step back on the seventh with a bogey, although he quickly responded by getting back on track on the following hole with a birdie on the par-five eighth.

Another setback occurred on the ninth as Sung made another error on a par three, carding his second bogey of the round. Unfortunately for the South Korean he was unable to produce his best golf after the turn, remaining steady with nine pars on the bounce.

As a result, he missed out on his first PGA crown by three strokes to Henley and will not get the opportunity to participate in The Masters. The 29-year-old played exceptionally well at times during the week, but will need to improve on his consistency to get over the line.

Rickie Fowler

Fowler missed out in Houston

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The American’s poor end to his third round would prove to be critical in his hopes of winning the competition.  He carded a bogey and a double-bogey on the final two holes on Saturday, knocking him off Sung’s pace at the top of the leaderboard and that appeared to affect him in the early stages of his final round.

Fowler was solid on the first three holes, but a double-bogey knocked him off track, while matters got worse on the sixth with a bogey-six. He found his rhythm before the turn with a birdie at the eighth to send him on to the back nine with momentum.

The 28-year-old left himself with too much to do in the remaining holes, and although he notched four birdies, including back-to-back efforts on the 12th and 13th – it was not enough to guide him towards success.

Fowler will be competing at The Masters, and should he produce his form of the first round throughout the tournament he could have a chance to win the Green Jacket. At +2500   he represents good value with 188Bet to claim his first major victory.

Daniel Berger

Berger began the day eight-under for the competition, nine strokes behind Sung at the top of the leaderboard. Therefore he needed an outstanding performance on the final day to even have a hope of competing for the title.

The 23-year-old was steady on the opening three holes of the day before notching his first birdie on the fourth hole, while he put himself on course for a charge down the back nine with a brilliant eagle on the eighth.

Three pars on the bounce put the pressure on the American, but he found his rhythm with a birdie on the 12th before striking on back-to-back holes at 14 and 15, moving to 14-under in the competition.

He produced three excellent strokes to fire a birdie on the 17th, but his tournament was to end on a sour note by carding a double-bogey on the final hole. At odds of +10000   with 188Bet, Berger is good value to claim the Green Jacket and take a major step forward in his career.

Hudson Swafford

Swafford paid the price for a poor third round

Swafford matched the pace of Henley through the first two days of the competition and was well placed at 10-under to make a charge. However, a poor display on Saturday knocked him out of contention for the crown, although he would still been hopeful of a solid end to his time in Houston.

The 29-year-old needed a flawless performance during his final round and he got off to a good start with back-to-back birdies on the second and third. Swafford remained solid on the front nine before striking again before the turn with a birdie on the par-three ninth.

The American remained consistent, but was not quite at the peak of his powers to move higher up the leaderboard, adding two further birdies to his card, carding a five-under performance.

He ended on 12-under for the tournament and a similar display could see him mount a surge for the crown at The Masters and backing him at +25000   with Bet365 is excellent value.

Tips Summary

Russell Henley To Win The Masters
Odds: +15000

Rickie Fowler To Win The Masters
Odds: +2500

Daniel Berger To Win The Masters
Odds: +10000

Hudson Swafford To Win The Masters
Odds: +25000