The Shell Houston Open is the last stop saloon for players wanting to make The Masters field for next week. The tournament is played at the Redstone Golf Club in Humble.
This event was established in 1946 and has been played in and around the Houston area at several venues. It made its home at Redstone in 2003 where it was played on the Members course until it moved across the road to the Tournament course in 2006, where it has been played ever since.
The inaugural event was won by Byron Nelson who defeated Ben Hogan by 2 shots. The winner received US$2,000. Other famous names to win have been Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Bob Charles, Raymond Floyd and Payne Stewart. And more recently by Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, Adam Scott and Paul Casey.
This week the event has a Purse of US$6.4 million with the winner taking home US$1,116,000.
The Course is a Par 72, measuring 7,457 yards with 60 sand bunkers and 13 water hazards. Over the last 7 years the course has played at an average of -16 so expect much the same this week.
Much like early events on the Tour this year look out for the Par 4, 488 yard 18th hole to cause a few problems for anyone that tries to go for glory. The whole left hand side of the hole runs along the side of a lake and players will try to carry that as much as possible. There is a lot of risk involved however the reward can be good. The second shot to the green is also a tricky one with water on the left side of the green and a bunker on the right.
With the Masters being played next week several big name players have stayed at home to practise, however many others like to use Redstone as a good lead in to the event to fine tune their game. This week we will get to watch players of the calibre of Louis Oosthuizen, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Jimmy Walker and Luke Donald.
The bookies Top 5 in betting are: 9/1 Rory McIlroy, 14/1 Dustin Johnson, 16/1 Henrik Stenson, 25/1 Keegan Bradley and 25/1 Sergio Garcia.
Looking at past winners of this event we need to pay close attention to guys who hit a lot of greens. This stat stands out above the rest as one of the most important. We also need to look at good scramblers as they have always done well here. With four Par 5’s on the course look at players with good Par 5 records as well. Accuracy off the tee is not as important as Distance off the tee this week as a good scrambler can negate the rough.
Taking these stats into consideration we have two players who should fair very well this week at Redstone.
Matt Kuchar 25/1
‘Kuch’ has been one of our favourite golfers for some time now. We tipped him twice last year and he won both events. The WGC Accenture at 35/1 and Memorial Tournament at 20/1. It is great to see him this week at 25/1 as his game is in the right place to excel this week.
Matt has had a great start to 2014 with four Top 10’s from seven starts. T6th Hyundai Tournament of Champions, T8th Sony Open, T9th WGC Accenture Match Play and T4th Valero Texas Open last week.
This will be his fifth start at the Houston Open. In 2005 and 2007 he missed the Cut however he came back in 2010 and 2011 and finished 8th on both occasions. With excellent course form and current form it is brilliant to see Matt at 25/1 this week. That represents a confident each way selection.
His stats also hold up well being ranked 17th in scoring average, 47th in driving accuracy and 15th in scrambling. Lets sit back and watch Matt win his third tournament for us!
Charley Hoffman 66/1
The man with the worlds worst haircut is luckily a very good golfer! While he may need help finding a decent hairdresser he certainly knows his way around the golf course.
This year he has been putting together some great results. Seven starts has brought four Top 12 finishes. He is coming off a T11th at the Valero Texas Open and his stats of 16 in Driving Distance, 20th in Greens in Regulation, 18th in Birdie average, 27th in Scoring average and 18th in Ball Striking put him in a good position heading into the tournament.
This will be Charley’s eighth start here and he has not missed a cut yet. Four of those were Top 25 finishes.
Good luck and good punting.