TOURNAMENT: Shell Houston Open
HOST COURSE: Redstone GC, Humble, Texas
PRIZE FUND: $5,500,000
COURSE DETAILS: 7,457 yards, par 72.
The Tournament Course at Redstone GC measures nearly 7,500 yards from the championship tees, meaning the longer hitters will have a considerable advantage this week. Work began on the Rees Jones design in 2003, and the course is cut through natural oak, pine and cypress woodland. The closing two holes are challenging par 4s and a huge lake on the left side of the 18th fairway means a long and accurate tee shot is required.
First staged in 1946, when it was won by Byron Nelson, the Shell Houston Open has a list of past winners that stands proudly among US PGA Tour events. As well as Nelson, luminous former champions include Bobby Locke, Arnold Palmer, Roberto DeVicenzo, Gary Player, Raymond Floyd and Payne Stewart.
Australia’s Adam Scott will be looking to warm up for Augusta by clinching his first title of 2007 and will start as the clear favourite with the bookmakers. His fellow countryman, Stuart Appleby, is a two-time winner of the event and starts as the defending champion. The task of both men has been made easier by the absence of the in-form Vijay Singh, who won the event three times in four years between 2002 and 2005.
The home challenge, weakened by the absence of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, will be led by Ryder Cup stars Vaughn Taylor and David Toms but could well be overshadowed by the strong-looking foreign contingent. David Howell, Lee Westwood, José Maria Olazábal, K J Choi, Michael Campbell, Jeev Milkha Singh, Padraig Harrington and Miguel Angel Jiménez are all starters this week, and together with Scott and Appleby they represent a real challenge to the Americans.
CONTENDERS: David Toms, Adam Scott, Stuart Appleby, K J Choi