Only two official PGA Tour events remain in 2022.
We’re in the Lone Star state for the Cadence Bank Houston Open. The event dates back to 1946 but has recently settled on a new venue.
Memorial Park is often lauded for its location near downtown Houston and for shining a spotlight on public golf.
The course underwent renovations prior to first hosting in 2020 led by Tom Doak and with player consultation from Brooks Koepka. Ironically, Koepka’s move to the LIV Tour keeps him from playing competitively at the course where he lent input.
We’re guaranteed to get a new Houston Open champion.
That’s because 2020 winner Carlos Ortiz and 2021 winner Jason Kokrak have also defected to LIV.
Memorial Park is a 7,432-yard layout that plays to a par 72. Unlike recent weeks on the PGA Tour where the course is short and tight, this one is longer and has more room off the tee.
You still need to hit a lot of fairways to score well, though. The course is Bermuda from tee to green. The greens are undulating and tough to attack out of the rough.
Weather for the week looks benign until the weekend; when highs expect to dip into the 50s with a chance for rain. Wind could be consistently in the low double digits miles per hour.
The field strength is decent this year. Eight of the world’s top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking help comprise the 132-man field.
Let’s check out 10 names who can contend for the title:
Davis Riley was among the best players without a win last season on the PGA Tour. He was in contention for Rookie of the Year honors throughout 2021-22.
It began in the fall with a T-7th at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Riley made a decent amount of cuts after that, but didn’t get back in the top 10 until taking solo second at the Valspar Championship in March. It took Sam Burns winning his second straight title at Innisbrook to take down Riley on a second playoff hole.
That’s where Riley really made a name for himself. A Saturday 62 gave him a two-shot lead through 54 holes. He couldn’t quite seal the deal in Florida, but solo second all but locked up his PGA Tour card for the next season.
Confidence from his close call led to three more top-10s and a span in the spring of five straight top-13s.
The former Alabama Crimson Tide has made three of four cuts in 2022-23. Highlights are T-19th at the Sanderson Farms Championship and T-21st last week at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.
The 25-year-old gained strokes in every per-round category last season except for around the green. There, he lost a measly .003 shots.
Riley didn’t thrive in any one category. He just had a way of getting the ball in the hole quickly. He ranked 16th in birdies per round (4.15).
Riley’s going to be a popular pick as a player to break through for his first win this season. It’s for good reason.
Riley’s got the pedigree. As a junior amateur, he was All-USA Boys Golf Player of the Year by USA Today in 2015. Riley won four Mississippi state high school titles and made the finals of the U.S. Junior Amateur twice.
Riley was an elite collegian and qualified for the Palmer Cup.
On the pro level, he’s twice a winner on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020.
It just seems like a matter of time until the PGA Tour wins begin to roll in.