Shell Houston Open
The Golf Club of Houston
The Golf Club of Houston
Yards: 7,441 per the scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Miniverde Bermudagrass over-seeded with Bentgrass
Rough: TifSport Bermudagrass and ryegrass at 1.25”;
Water Hazards: 13
Course Architect: Rees Jones/David Toms (2005)
Winner’s Share: $1,152,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: D.A. Points held off Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel by one shot to claim the title.
Dates: April 2-5
Format: Stroke play
Notes: The SHO returns to its normal position on the calendar as the tournament before the Masters. Last year, it was played after Augusta because of the Easter holiday. This the final chance to play into the Masters with a victory.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first 17 of 20 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson, Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley and Matt Every have collected the hardware this year for the stars and stripes. Steven Bowditch now joins John Senden and Jason Day as only Australia is representing the rest of the world with the other three victories. You wouldn’t think it’s a Ryder Cup year with the absence of Euro victories!
Steven Bowditch joins Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler and Chesson Hadley as the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year. As we hit the halfway point of the TOUR season, last year’s number looks safer and safer.
Walker (three wins) and Patrick Reed (two) are the only two players on TOUR with multiple victories this season.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. For the second week in a row a 30-year old joins the party as Steven Bowditch joined Matt Every in back-to-back weeks for the Prime Timers. This victory levels the ledger with the Young Guns at nine victories apiece.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) are the twenty-somethings on the board.
The Old Guys fired last week with Jerry Kelly and Jim Furyk finishing at T6. Australian John Senden, 42, has the only victory for the Old Guys. #AustraliaAustraliaAustralia
Pay Attention: It’s FREE
The city of Houston has been hosting golf tournaments since 1946 and the SHO is the 10th oldest on the TOUR schedule.
Even though the name of the course is new, the SHO has been played on this ground since 2006.
Gamers, please remember that the current “style” of the Golf Club of Houston was introduced in 2007 when it was moved on the calendar to the week before the Masters.
Course history before 2007 is irrelevant to me because the setup did not mirror Augusta.
The tournament low round is 63 set by multiple players. #golowyo
2006 Stuart Appleby -19
2007 Adam Scott -17
2008 Johnson Wagner -16
2009 Paul Casey -11
2010 Anthony Kim -12
2011 Phil Mickelson -20
2012 Hunter Mahan -16
2013 D.A. Points -16
Adam Scott is not in the field this week. Again.
The average winning score is 16-under-par.
Only Johnson Wagner has broken his maiden on this track. Paul Casey won his first TOUR event on this course but had victories previously in Europe.
Paul Casey is the only European to win.
This week’s winner will punch the final ticket to Augusta if not previously eligible. #nopressure
Inside the Ropes
Here’s where the SHO has ranked, relative to par, since the opening of the Golf Club of Houston and setting it up like the Masters:
2013: 25th-most difficult; -.132 below par (of 43 courses used)
2012: 34th; -.548 (of 49 courses used)
2011: 29th; -.260 (of 51 courses used)
2010: 14th-most difficult; +.596 (of 52 courses used)
2009:22nd; +.202 (of 51 courses used)
2008: 30th; +.068 (of 54 courses used)
2007: 29th; +.050 (of 55 courses used)
Keeping track of the SHO keeps all of us #fantasygolfnerds on our toes.
First, the tournament moved to Redstone in 2006. The following year, it moved on the calendar to fill the week before the Masters. The course subsequently was molded and shaped to feel like Augusta in hopes of bringing premium players to town. The rough was shrunk to minimal levels; the greens were slickened up; the areas surrounding the putting surfaces were shaved down and the rough dispersed. Heck, they even started mowing the grass the same way to give the players as close as a replication to Augusta as possible.
In 2009 closely-mown areas were added on nine more holes to give the players more chances to “practice” if they missed the green. In 2012, the closing holes also had areas of closely-mown areas added as bunkers were reduced in size.
As we can tell from above numbers, the more the players have seen this “new” course, the more comfortable they have been playing and scoring on it.
With the average winning score sitting at 16-under-par, TOUR pros know that birdies and eagles will be the order of the week. With minimal rough surrounding the fairways this will be a second-shot course which should favor the ball-strikers in the field. The greens running at 13’+ will give the premium putters a chance to have their voices heard as well.
It’s a shifting of the gears this week as five weeks of playing difficult courses subsides. It’s time to make shots, take chances and SCORE again! Last year, even par was T65; last week it was T26. #parbreakers
Phil Mickelson set the tournament record of 268 in 2011.