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Shell Houston Open Preview
by Matt Fargo - 03/27/2013
A Monday finish could not stop Tiger Woods from winning at Bay Hill for the eighth time as he captured the Arnold Palmer Invitational. With the victory, Woods returned to the top spot in the OWGR for the first time in 29 months and firmly put himself into position to win his first Major since the 2008 U.S. Open. It was his third victory in four medal play events and the good news for players teeing up this week is that Woods will not be in attendance.
The PGA Tour heads to Texas for the Shell Houston Open which will be contested at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas. Normally, this event is the final event prior to the Masters but because of an agreement with the Texas Valero Open to be completed on Easter Sunday, the Shell got pushed back a week. The good news is that it has not hurt the field as some big name players are still using this track as a tuneup for the Masters as the similarities between here and Augusta National are here for a reason.
Heavy rye overseeded fairways and bentgrass/rye combination greens are very quick. The rough is light and banks around greens and water hazards are shaved, creating many of the same tight, quick conditions you get at Augusta. Redstone Golf Club has hosted this event since 2003 and last year it yielded the lowest scoring average in those 10 years. Hitting greens in regulation was no problem nor was scrambling but scrambling from the rough was a different story as players got up and down just over 40 percent of the time.
The defending champion is Hunter Mahan (+1,500) who has followed up his runner-up at the Accenture Match Play with two top 25's. While he has only one top 10 in seven stroke play events, he has finished outside the top 25 only once and that was at the opening Hyundai tournament of Champions with a T26. In addition to his victory at Redstone, he also posted a T6 and a T8 in two of the previous three years.
I wish we were getting more value with Keegan Bradley (+1,200) but he isn't flying under anybody's radar. He is coming off his third straight top ten at Bay Hill and who knows what could have happened if not for three straight Sunday 71's. He opened last week with a 74 so his comeback was solid. He had a solid start at Redstone last year with a T4 that closed with a, you guessed it, 71. He is playing with great confidence now.
Louis Oosthuizen (+2,500) is gearing up for another run at the Masters and if last year was any indication, he will be at the top again. He finished solo second at Augusta a year ago but many will not likely remember his solo third at Redstone right before that. A Sunday 75 did him in. He has missed two cuts already this year but he came into last year with nothing going either. He could be the one to break the American streak.
Jimmy Walker (+4,000) is having a very solid season and is coming off his third top ten of the season at Bay Hill. He also has a T3 and a T4 and after six top tens a year ago, he is ready for his first win. He has yet to miss a cut this year and has missed the weekend only five times in 28 starts since last year. While his best finish here is a T30 in 2011, he opened with a Thursday 63 so he is capable of going low and now he is at his best.
Bryce Molder (+6,000) will be the longshot pick this week as he has been very consistent this season while having a good track record here. He has not missed a cut and has been outside the top 30 only once. He finished T18 here last year, two years after his best finish which was a T8 in 2010. He is 36th on tour in scrambling from the rough (64%) which is big factor here as mentioned before.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Shell Houston Open (all for One Unit)
Hunter Mahan (+1,500)
Keegan Bradley (+1,200)
Louis Oosthuizen (+2,500)
Jimmy Walker (+4,000)
Bryce Molder (+6,000)
2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 10 events: +6.6 Units
Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge - 5 Units
Farmer Insurance Open +3.5 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open +19 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship +25.66 units
The Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Tampa Bay Championship -5 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -1.5 Units