With just a week until the year’s first Major many of the top players, including Jordan Spieth, will complete their final Masters preparation at the Shell Houston Open.
The Shell Houston Open has traditionally been contested in the week prior to The Masters 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 as players complete their final Masters preparation. This year is no different. Jordan Spieth will tee it up, so too four further top-10 players in Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Henrik Stenson. WGC-Dell Match Play runner-up Louis Oosthuizen will also start. 33 players headed to Augusta next week will play in Humble, Texas.
Jordan Spieth will be hoping to find some form ahead of his Masters defence. He reached a playoff in this tournament last year, but lost out to J.B. Holmes. This is a course that big hitting Holmes clearly enjoys. He was tied second over the layout in 2009 and tied eighth in 2012.
Jordan Spieth slow motion swing:
In 2008, Augusta National restored the Shell Houston Open’s automatic winner’s ticket for The Masters so this event provides a last chance for a player to make it to the year’s first Major. In the past Johnson Wagner (2008), D.A. Points (2013) and Matt Jones (2014) have taken advantage of that offer.
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.
The weather forecast for the week is unsettled and there could be thunderstorms on Thursday. But the system should pass over through Friday leaving the weekend clear.
Venue: Golf Club of Houston, Humble, Texas
Date: Mar 31-Apr 3
Course stats: par 72, 7,441 yards
Purse: $6,800,000 Winner: $1,224,000
Defending Champion: J.B. Holmes (-16)
Thursday 31 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Friday 1 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Saturday 2 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Sunday 3 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Patrick Reed – He showed some fine form in the Dell Match Play and has enjoyed a good season so far – six top-10 finishes.
Henrik Stenson – The Swede had a week off for the Match Play so should be well rested for this event. He was tied for third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and has twice finished in the top-three in this event.
Brooks Koepka – The hugely talented American has a game that’s well suited to this layout. He reached the quarter finals last week where he lost out to Jason Day.
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.