Spotlight on: Matthew Wolff at the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open

The back-to-form American is feeling confident about landing another PGA Tour win as he prepares to tee it up in Texas this week.

Matthew Wolff is proving a popular pick to win this week's Houston Open at Memorial Park and with good reason.

The American lost his way earlier this year, to the extent that he struggled to even get out of bed.

After playing poorly and being disqualified for signing an incorrect score at The Masters where he cut an unhappy and disconsolate figure, Wolff took a hiatus from the PGA Tour that lasted over two months.

He told Golf Digest: "I just want to stay in my bed and not be in front of everyone and not screw up in front of everyone.

"If you don't feel a hundred percent right, no matter if it's physical or mental, it is an injury, and you should be able to rehab and take your time in order to get to a place where you need to be."

But the break proved a smart move. Refreshed, he's very much fallen back in love with the game.

Wolff said ahead of this week's Houston Open on Wednesday: "I wake up in the morning and I'm excited to get out here. I'm excited to work on my game and tighten up the things I need to tighten up and see everyone, say hi and stuff."

There was no instant impact when he returned but there were signs that the old Wolff was back. The Wolff that won the 2019 3M Open on just his fourth PGA Tour start and later finished runner-up on his US Open debut in 2020.

Those two tournaments revealed Wolff's versatility. His victory came after shooting 21-under in a birdie-fest while his runner-up finish at the US Open came after grinding out a score of even par.

And so to this week. Wolff heads to Houston on the back of tied fifth in the World Technology Championship at Mayakoba on Sunday and, prior to that, a second place in the Shriners Children's Open.

But, perhaps ominously, he feels this week's course will suit him far better than last week's.

"I feel really good with every part of my game right now," he revealed on the eve of the tournament.

"Last week I really -- I only hit two drivers all week, so definitely like this course a little more. I have a lot more room to hit driver and use that length as an advantage.

"It definitely seems like a bomber's golf course. There's not too much trouble off the tee.

"I've just played the pro-am, so I've gotten to play both the front nine and the back nine. I think it's a really good course.

"The greens are really good. I was thankful that I got to play both nines this week before the tournament because there's definitely a couple lines off of the tees that were a little different than I thought.

"But at the end of the day, I think it's going to set up really well for me. I'll be able to hit driver a lot, get to cover a couple things that some people might not be able to.

"Like I said, I'm playing really well and I feel really good with my game. So the weather's supposed to be nice, the venue's awesome, so should be a good week."

Wolff in round one

Wolff has played just one strokeplay tournament in Texas but shot his best round of the week on day one when opening with a 67 in the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Overall, he's got a reputation for starting fast.

He was third after 18 holes when defending the 3M Open in 2020 after shooting a 65 while a 66 put him second after round one in the 2020 US Open.

More recently, he started out with a 64 in the St Jude Invitational to sit second and in his last two starts he's opened with a 64 in the Shriners Open (good enough for fifth spot) while last Thursday he thrashed a stunning 61 to be first-round leader in Mexico.

Wolff in a 72-hole match-up

PlanetSportBet has put Wolff in a match bet alongside Chile's Joaquin Niemann and he's the slight underdog.

During Wolff's struggles in early 2021, Niemann shot the best score in six of the seven events they both took part in.

But since the new season started, Wolff outscored Niemann in the Shriners while the two players tied last week in Mexico.

Conclusion

Wolff is in a great place again, both physically and mentally.

With confidence flowing, he's a legitimate punt to win the tournament but perhaps an even better one for first-round leader.

Wolff has a nice early tee-time (07:35 local) on day one and he's fired a 61 and two 64s in three of his last six opening rounds.

READ MORE: Spotlight on Marc Leishman in the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open.

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