PGA Tour preview: Shell Houston Open

greenside picPreview – PGA Tour – Shell Houston Open – Golf Club of Houston – Humble, Texas –

The PGA Tour hosts the Shell Houston Open this week as players prepare for the season’s first major at Augusta National for the Masters.

Several players in the field at August are here this week to fine-tune their games including Charl Schwartzel, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and more. In fact, five players in the Official World Golf Ranking Top 10 are competing this week including Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, DJ, Patrick Reed and Henrik Stenson.

Shell Houston Open tournament officials set up the Golf Club of Houston to simulate Masters’ conditions, especially around the putting surfaces.

Past champions here include Hunter Mahan, Mickelson, D.A. Points, Anthony KimPGA TOURand Paul Casey. Aussie Matt Jones was a champion in 2014.

The renamed Rees Jones design at Humble, Texas stretches to more than 7,400 yards and plays to a par 72. The 18th hole ranks the most difficult at a 488-yard par 4. A water hazard borders the left side of the hole to challenge players down the stretch.

Look for a player specializing or having a great week scrambling to succeed here. And, of course, some timely one-putts.

Golf Channel has the early-round television coverage including some early weekend shell houston open logoaction before NBC Sports brings home the leaders.

2015 Outcome:

  • J.B. Holmes (16-under) outlasted Spieth and Johnson Wagner in a playoff to capture the title. JB fired a final-round 64 to claim a spot in the playoff as a 25-to-1 betting selection. He came into the event with runner-up efforts at the Farmers Insurance Open and at a WGC event. Russell Henley was fourth alone followed by Keegan Bradley, Charles Howell III, Brendon de Jonge and Cameron Tringale, who all tied for 5th.

FANTASY: At press time, Holmes had withdrawn from the tournament. Consider a hot hand like Schwartzel, who has three worldwide victories this eason including the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour in mid-March. Holmes is a great Horses For Courses pick in Houston. Mahan has four Top 10s at the Shell Houston Open, but his form is shaky coming in here. Take Louis Oosthuizen, who is in great form after his run at the WGC-Dell Match Play.

BETTORS: Spieth (6 1/2-to-1 odds) is the betting favorite at Avoid Spieth, who enters in rough form. Last year, he was trending with 8 Top 10s in his last 11 worldwide starts including three wins and six Top 5s. Not so much since his early-season win in Hawaii for 2016. Take Schwartzel at 25-1 and Reed at 20-1. Also take a wager on Stenson, who is due to win and sits 12-1.

Other Golf News:

  • At the moment, only 90-some entries are set to start in the Masters field next week.
  • The LPGA Tour hosts the season’s first major championship this week in Palm LPGAtour logoNEWSprings at the ANA Championship. Brittany Lincicome is the defending champion at Poppy’s Pond as she edged Stacy Lewis in a playoff last year. She is paired with Lexi Thompson in the opening two rounds at Mission Hills Country Club. Lincicome also won the title in 2009.
  • Tiger Woods and Hyundai are both on board for the PGA Tour’s annual stop at Riviera Country Club. The 2017 version has yet to be named as Northern Trust, the previous sponsor, has moved its corporate ties to the FedEx Cup Playoffs.