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 Paul Casey secured his first PGA Tour victory after seeing off long-hitting J.B Holmes at the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.
Casey will be back to defend his title this week and he’s one of eight Englishmen in the field. There’s a strong European contingent in general – Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy and Soren Kjeldsen are all set to start.
The tournament course at Redstone Golf Club was specifically designed to host a PGA Tour event by Rees Jones and David Toms. It opened for play in 2005.
There’s a chance of thunderstorms over Friday and Saturday so don’t be surprised to see some weather delays. The players will be keen the tournament does not spill over into Masters week.
Venue: Redstone Golf Club Tournament Course, Texas
Date: Apr 1 – 4
Course stats: par 72, 7,457 yards
Purse: $5,800,000 Winner: $1,044,000
Defending Champion: Paul Casey (-11)
Thursday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 9pm
Friday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9pm
Saturday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 6pm
Sunday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Ernie Els – The big South African has already won twice in March and has climbed to 7th on the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s the hottest player in world golf at the moment.
Paul Casey – He’s on extremely consistent form in 2010 and was the winner here in 2009.
Fred Couples – The 50-year-old may seem an unlikely pick but he has two wins on the Champions Tour so far this season and has an excellent record at Redstone including a tied third place finish last season.
Key hole: 18th. A monster 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: Finding greens. At almost 7,500 yards this is another monster course where having the ability to “send it out there” affords a massive advantage. But, the real key is to get it on the putting surfaces. 10 greens have water in play so missing those targets could be costly.