Houston Open, formerly the Shell Houston Open, no sponsor this year
Golf Club of Houston, 7,441 yards, par 72
Defending champion: Russell Henley. Henley, the former Georgia Bulldog, won his 3rd PGA title shooting a 65 on Sunday which included 10 birdies as he defeated Sung Kang by 3 shots. Henley finished -20.
Weather: Tomorrow, showers in the morning, clearing up, 83, wind 6-9 MPH. They've got severe chances today. Friday through Sunday perfect. 79-83, sunny, wind anywhere from 7-12 MPH.
TV: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 PM CT; Saturday-Sunday, 1-2 PM CT, Golf Channel, 2-5 PM CT NBC.
No. 18, A 488 yard, par 4 that features a lake running down the entire left side of the hole, so driving the ball is at a premium. Players will try to carve as much distance as they can off the lake and cut it into the fairway. There is sand on the left hand side of the fairway too that can be problematic when the player goes over the water. The right side is the safer play but leads to a longer approach in. On Sunday, the contenders will have a decision to make on the tee, play if conservatively or take a chance. Most will choose the latter to try and win it. The approach has to carry sand on the right and not be overcooked or the contender's ball will go in the water. Challenging, really outstanding finishing hole.
I'm going with one of my favorites on the tour. This Vanderbilt University graduate and 33 year old from Seattle, Washington and Baylor High School in Chattanooga, took Justin Thomas into a playoff at the Honda Classic a month ago. He had a shot to win it on 16 after Justin missed an 8'er for birdie and he faced a 7'er, which could have very well closed the deal. He missed barely to the left, and ended up losing to JT on the first playoff hole. He tied for 3rd here last year with Rickie Fowler, and needs emerge victorious to earn an invitation to the Masters. I like thid young bomber to get over the hump this week and win his first PGA title and earn a spot at next week's premiere major.
The 2015 champion, plays the course well. Lost in a playoff to Paul Casey in 2009 and defeated Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner in a playoff 3 years ago.
The first of the 5 majors on the LPGA Tour in Rancho Mirage, California. The second major, the U.S. Women's Open, will be played at Shoal Creek in Birmingham on May 31-June 3rd. The other 3 majors are the Ricoh Women's British, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship and the Evian Championship.
The defending champion of the ANA is Ryu So-yeon who defeated Lexi Thompson in a catastrophic way, as Thompson was assessed a four stroke penalty on Sunday from her Saturday round when she was deemed to have placed her ball back improperly on the green on a 16 inch putt. She was assessed a 2 stroke penalty for misplacing her ball and a 2 stroke penalty for signing an improper scorecard. It was brutally tough on Thompson. She lost in the playoff to Ryu.
I like the 23 year old from Coral Springs, Florida to come back and win it this year. Lexi wins her 10th LPGA title and second major at the ANA. She also won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April of 2014, a major then.
TV times: Golf Channel: Thursday, 11 AM-3 PM CT, 6-8 PM CT; Friday, 11 AM-4 PM CT, 6-8 PM CT, Saturday and Sunday, Golf Channel, 4-8 PM CT.
Champion: Lexi Thompson
The Major League baseball season opens up tomorrow and it will be a classic this season. Can the Houston Astros repeat or can the LA Dodgers knock them off this year or somebody in the American League, the powerful Yankees with their 3 bash brothers in Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, or the Red Sox with elite players and headlined by super starters Chris Sale and David Price. Or can the Nationals finally get over the hump in Bryce Drew's most likely final season in D.C. Here are my predictions for the 2018 season.
AL Wild Card
Yankees over the LA Angels, 6-2
NL Wild Card
Diamondbacks over Cardinals, 3-2
Astros over Yanks in 5
Red Sox over Indians in 5
Nationals over Dbacks in 4
Dodgers over Cubs in 5
Astros over Bosox in 7
Nationals over Dodgers in 7
The World Series
Bryce Harper has a lot to play for this year. Not only does he want to excel for his team, his next contract after this season is rumored to be in the $400 million range. Wow. But he's a heckuva player. I saw him almost hit it out of Nationals Park 2 years ago sitting behind home plate with my daughter. The ball must have traveled 470 feet. It was phenomenal. While Harper, Daniel Murphy, and the Nationals arsenal are prolific and Max Scherzer is all time good on the mound, the Houston Astros have the most firepower in baseball with the great 2017 MVP and three time batting champion second baseman Jose Altuve, elite shortstop Carlos Correa and superior centerfielder George Springer, last year's world series MVP. Justin Verlander is as big a game pitcher as Scherzer is. USA Today asked Astros ace lefty Dallas Keuchal if there will be a problem with complacency this season. and he said, "No. We're not the Cubs!"
But I'll take an upset here and go with Harper, Murphy, Scherzer and ace right hander Stephen Strasburg. The Astros will be locked in, but I like the Nats to extremely hungry this season as they want Bryce Harper's likely last season in the nation's capital to count.
Nats over Astros in 7
NL Cy Young
AL Cy Young
World Series MVP
Here's a 2018 MLB hype song to get you ready for the season.
Final Four Previews and Predictions