With one week to the year’s first Major, the PGA Tour heads for Texas and the Shell Houston Open. A world-class field will tee it up at Redstone Golf Club as the players complete their final preparations for The Masters.
The Houston Open began life in 1924 and over the years it’s seen some notable winners including Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer and Roberto DeVicenzo. Last year Anthony Kim came through a playoff against Vaughn Taylor to take the title.
The tournament course at Redstone Golf Club was designed by Rees Jones, with advice from David Toms, with the specific purpose of hosting a PGA Tour event. The track opened for play in 2005.
There are no less than 16 former Major winners on the start list this week as well as three other players currently in the top-10 on the Official World Golf Ranking – Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker. Other European players in the field include Ross Fisher, Padraig Harrington, Francesco Molinari and Jose Maria Olazabal.
The weather forecast for the week looks dry so there shouldn’t be any rain delays. It may, however, be windy and the temperature is expected to rise to the high 80s by Sunday.
Venue: Redstone Golf Club, Humble, Texas
Date: March 31 – April 3
Course stats: par 72, 7,457 yards
Purse: $5,900,000, Winner: $1,044,000
Defending Champion: Anthony Kim (-12)
Thursday 31 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Friday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Saturday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Sunday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 6pm
Lee Westwood – The Englishman will look to put the finishing touches on his preparation for the year’s first Major. He has a decent record in this event and will be aiming to peak at the right time.
Matt Kuchar – He’s been on excellent form so far in 2011 and he should be refreshed after a two-week break from the tour. He’s an excellent scrambler and putter and that should stand him in good stead around this course.
Marc Leishman – He was tied third last week at Bay Hill and he posted an excellent closing 66 in that tournament. The young Australian will look to build on that performance with a strong showing here.
Key hole: 18th. A tough par-4 of 488 yards, a lake borders the entire left hand side of the hole. From the tee the golfer must attempt to carry as much water as possible to reduce the length of the second shot. The approach is equally challenging, as anything straying to the left side will find a watery grave.
Skills required: Scrambling. This is a course that is increasingly being set up to resemble conditions at Augusta. As such, a premium is placed on the short game. The man who can get it up and down on a regular basis will have a great advantage here.