Now that The Shell Houston Open has been moved back to its regular position on the schedule as the last chance before the Masters, it will indeed give us our final look at our favorite player before they move to Augusta next week. More importantly, it’s a final opportunity for someone who doesn’t have an invitation to Augusta at this point to get one. It’s win here, or sit out next week, the deadline for invitations based on World Rankings was yesterday.
The SHO tees off on Thursday morning at the Golf Club at Houston. D.A. Points earned a trip to Augusta in 2013 when he was able to beat Billy Horschel, and Henrik Stenson in a playoff.
Golf Club of Houston (Tournament), 7,441 yards, par 72. New name, same Rees Jones design that earns praise for its ability to replicate Augusta National’s setup. The former Redstone GC changed hands last spring as new owners Escalante Golf snapped up four Houston-area clubs. What hasn’t changed are the shaved banks, collection areas around the greens and a Stimpmeter reading of 13 or more. The 488-yard 18th, with water running along the entire left side, consistently ranks among the PGA TOUR’s toughest closing holes.
Generally those players who are already set for next week either play in the Valero Texas Open, or The Shell Houston Open so they don’t get to Augusta with too much rust, and this year is no different. It is a star-studded field that includes the world’s number three, Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, and 2013 Rookie of the Year, Jordan Spieth
The obvious missing are Tiger Woods, and Adam Scott. Tiger has never won here, and I wouldn’t have expected him anyway, even without his back issues. The question mark is Phil Mickelson. Phil is scheduled to play, but after withdrawing on Sunday at TPC San Antonio, everyone is speculating if the 43 year-old will show up. Scott was your 2007 Champion.
Byron Nelson held off Ben Hogan in the first Shell Houston Open in 1946, and Phil Mickelson beat Chris Kirk, and Texas native, Scott Verplank in 2011.
Other than a Masters invitation for someone who doesn’t already have one, there is a $6.4 Million Dollar purse and 500 Fed Ex Cup points available for those who tee it up with the winner taking home $1,151 Million Dollars. This is an excellent tournament with a strong field of touring pros and who knows, maybe another first-time winner on the PGA Tour.
TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 4-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (NBC).