If you are a PGA Tour professional, and already have an invitation to Augusta next week, do you really want to peak at the Shell Houston Open? Probably not, but a healthy portion of that $6.2 Million Dollar purse, and 500 FedEx Cup points can be a strong reason to win at The Houston Golf Club this week. Especially in this wrap-around year where some of the big names are behind in the points standings.
This is a nice field this week, and as we saw last year, the golf course, and the uncertain weather in Texas can lead to an exciting finish on Sunday afternoon. If you remember, Billy Horschel had the momentum, and came out flat after a weather delay. He would finish the playoff, and along with Henrik Stenson, lose to a determined D.A. Points who was playing with an old putter that got hot at the right time.
Matt Kuchar played well enough on Saturday in San Antonio to win the Valero, but the constant hounding from tournament officials to stay on pace may have thrown him out of his rhythm and cost him a shot at the win. Kuchar is playing well this year, missing only one cut at Rivieria, his first in over a year and a half. You could tell The Kuch was rattled on Sunday because he started spraying tee shots at TPC San Antonio. Something very uncharacteristic for his steady game.
Kuchar hasn’t played in this event since 2012, but finished T8 in his last two starts. He needs for some good things to start happening before he goes to Augusta next week, and what a better place than the Houston Golf Club to start?
By all other standards, Dustin Johnson has had a terrific year already on the PGA Tour. The only thing he doesn’t have at this point, is a win since the WGC-HSBC. With Top 10 finishes in all of his stroke play events and a T4 at his last start at Doral, it’s time for Dustin to step up here and grab a win before the Masters. Dustin is ranked 10th in World Rankings, and is in third place in the FedEx Cup. He finished T4 last year in this event.
Even though the former number one has broken out of his 2013 slump, he still doesn’t look like he’s ready to challenge for a major yet. The loss at The Honda Classic was a tough one. He hit by far, the best shot of the tournament on the 72nd hole at PGA National, but he didn’t make the putt, and lost in a three-way playoff to Russell Henley. Rory is suffering some of the same fate Tiger Woods suffered last year in the majors, he plays well on Thursday and Friday, and loses his game on the weekends.
Rory is coming off a three-week break, and needs this tournament to get ready for Augusta, but who knows, he could be in contention on Sunday afternoon.
Sergio hasn’t had a start in Houston since 2009, but has played some pretty good golf in 2014. His only finish on the PGA Tour in 2014 was a T 16 at Doral earlier on the Florida Swing. He has had twelve consecutive top 20 finishes, and could well be a factor in Houston this week. Garcia is ranked 8th in the world, and third i Race To Dubai points. His poorest finish in 2014 was at Abu Dhabi where he finished T19.
The 2013 Rookie of the Year seems to be in a Sophomore slump this year. His putter just isn’t working for him right now. He tends to get a little rattled when he starts missing putts, and his tee-to-green game then goes to hell. I was impressed that he was able to get out of San Antonio with a solo tenth place finish after opening with a 75 on Thursday. He is on home soil in Texas, and this would be a good week for the youngster to get on track and show folks that he belongs when he makes his first trip to Augusta next week.