The PGA Tour remains in Texas this week for the Shell Houston Open. D.A. Points defends the title at the Golf Club of Houston with just one week to go until the U.S. Masters.

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The PGA Tour remains in Texas this week for the Shell Houston Open. D.A. Points defends the title at the Golf Club of Houston with just one week to go until the U.S. Masters.

This event has traditionally been contested in the week prior to the year’s first Major (although it was moved last season,) and the Rees Jones designed layout is always set-up to replicate the sort of conditions the players will face at Augusta.

As such, the event attracts a strong field and this year is no different. Rory McIlroy will tee it up, so too Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson.

Padraig Harrington needs to secure a victory in this event to earn a spot at Augusta. It would be the first time he’s missed the Masters since 1999. Others who need a victory in Houston in order to tee it up at Augusta include Geoff Ogilvy, Ryo Ishikawa and Augusta native Charles Howell III.

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, D.A. Points fired a final round of 66 to hold off Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel by a single shot.

The wind looks set to be a factor this week and the possibility of thunderstorms, particularly on Thursday, can’t be ruled out.

Venue: Golf Club of Houston, Humble, Texas
Date: Apr 3-6
Course stats: par 72, 7,441 yards
Purse: $6,400,000, Winner: $1,152,000
Defending Champion: D.A. Points (-16)

TV Coverage:

Thursday 3 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Friday 4 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Saturday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Sunday 6 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm

Player Watch:
Dustin Johnson – He’s on excellent form at the moment with top-10 finishes in all five of his strokeplay starts this PGA Tour season. He was tied fourth at Doral and tied fourth in this event last year.

Jimmy Walker – With three wins already this season, Walker leads the FedEx Cup standings. He opened last week with a 76 but clawed it back to finish in a tie for 16th. He’s a solid performer and will be looking to go into Augusta with the perfect preparation.

Jason Kokrak – Ninth in this event last year and coming onto form this season. He was fourth at Bay Hill and would have been far better than tied 31st last week if it hadn’t been for an opening 77.

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 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.