Last chance saloon at Houston Open
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 Shell Houston Open | Preview | 02 Apr 2014
The Shell Houston Open provides one last chance for those not already qualified for next week’s Masters to play their way into the field at the first major of the year courtesy of a win at the Redstone Golf Club’s Tournament Course in Humble near Houston.
It also offers many of those teeing it up next week to play on a golf course with certain similarities to Augusta National in order they may head east to Augusta with their game’s at a peak.
The Houston Open has a long history as a US PGA Tour event and one where Australia is well represented amongst the list of winners.
Bruce Devlin, Bruce Crampton (twice) David Graham, Stuart Appleby (twice), Robert Allenby and Adam Scott all feature on the lengthy list of winners and with seven Australians in this week’s field there is an outside chance of another and a late Australian addition to the Masters.
Only Steven Bowditch amongst the Australians entered this week is qualified to play the Masters at this stage but with Stuart Appleby recording one of his two Houston Open wins over the Tournament Course he has at least an outside chance as perhaps do a couple of others.
Geoff Ogilvy showed improved form last week in San Antonio and did finish runner-up at this venue in 2007 so is yet another Australian who might stake a last minute claim for his 12th Masters appearance.
Other Australians in the field are Aaron Baddeley, Matt Jones, Greg Chalmers and Robert Allenby.
Amongst the more fancied candidates Rory McIlroy gets to play his first event since the Cadillac and just his 6th of 2014. He has played this event on three occasions without much in the way of joy but other than a very average week at Doral he has been in god form of late.
Matt Kuchar bounced back from an indifferent week in Tampa to finish 4th in San Antonio last week and having played this layout well in earlier years before taking a break from the event over the past two years he could again do well.
Henrik Stenson has played this venue three times for a 2nd and a 3rd place finish and following a much improved 5th place finish at Bay Hill recently he stands some sort of chance of returning to the form he displayed for much of the latter half of 2013.
The last time Sergio Garcia played this event and venue he recorded a round of 81 to finish well back after making the cut. He has however played very well in the limited number of events he has played this season and might well be some sort of factor.
Keegan Bradley finished runner-up at Bay Hill at his last start and has enjoyed some good results at Redstone Golf Club. That combination might well stand him in good stead this week.