The Week in Golf + Shell Houston Open Preview & Picks w/ Stats Spreadsheet

One. More. Week.

Its tempting to just look past this week and delve straight into next, but that’s not how this works unfortunately.

Before I dive into the Houston Open though, a quick peek into what’s transpired over the last week in the world of golf.

First off, congrats to Bubba Watson for winning arguably the most mentally straining tournament on Tour (Majors aside). The grind of Five straight days and multiple rounds of Match Play would wear on anyone, so for a guy like Bubba to emerge victorious given his, lets say, propensity for antics, is impressive.

 

 

 

Bubba now has two career WGC wins to go along with his two Green Jackets, and his career win total is up to 11.  Considering his Career Goal was to get to 10, its all gravy for Bubs now.

When pressed about his chances in the upcoming Masters, Bubba jokingly responded “I’m not a favorite. I’m going to definitely say that. I’m not a favorite. I don’t want anybody to talk to me that week. Let me just focus on what I’ve got to do. I’m not going to play well that week, so nobody talk to me.”

Surprisingly, he didn’t give the usual answer about Tiger being the favourite either, “If Tiger was sitting next to me, [he’d think], ‘If I do my job, I’m good enough to be beat Bubba.’ And [if] I’m sitting here and Tiger was right there, [I’d think], ‘If I do my job I’m good enough to beat Tiger. All golfers are going to say the same thing. Maybe to the media they might sugar coat it. We all think we’re good at our sport.”

Hmmm. Anyways, the Match Play left a sour taste in a lot of golfers mouths this past week: Ian Poulter, James Hahn, and Graham DeLaet just to name a few. All were for different reasons, but I personally think its time to go back to a straight Bracket format; None of this Round Robin business.

Oh and if you’re a Tiger guy (Like me), go out and get this book:

tigerbook

I went out and picked it up last night. I’m only like 50 pages in but I’ve already had my mind blown. There are several excerpts that have been leaked, so take a quick look on the ol’ Google and read up on Tiger’s rift with Bill Clinton, some stuff on the Steroids rumors, what happened the night of the Escalade crash…. I’m gonna stop there, but seriously there are TONS of good stories in there. I will write a FULL description of all of them once I’m done the book (That could be next week or never).

And one last thing: Tony Romo should stop with his PGA Tour dreams. Like, immediately.

Tony teed it up in Punta Cana last week amongst a “C” list field for his PGA Tour debut, And promptly missed the cut, coming in DEAD LAST by SIX strokes.

tony-romo-second-round

OK, on to this week!

Shell Houston Open

This week, the Tour remains in Texas, heading from Austin to Houston, and stopping at the Golf Club of Houston:  A 7,441 yard, par 72 course.

Perfect as an appetizer for The Masters, club officials annually go the extra mile here to make the course setup as close to Augusta National. Whether that means shaved banks, collection areas around the greens, or the Stimpmeter reading 13 or more, those in the field this week will get a taste of what to expect next week.

Last year, Russell Henley used 10 birdies to overcome a four-shot deficit on the final day, booking the final Masters reservation with a three-stroke win.

For this year’s edition, Jordan Spieth, who turned a playoff loss here in 2015 into a Masters title , and World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship winner Phil Mickelson, headline the final tuneup for the year’s first major. Justin Rose, twice a Masters runner-up after playing Houston, also returns to put finishing touches on his Augusta preparation.

For the rest, a final Masters berth is available if the winner hasn’t already qualified. The last-gasp Masters berth has been in play in four of the past five editions, with Russell Henley last year joining Jim Herman (2016), Matt Jones (2014) and D.A. Points (2013)

Something to look out for: the duo of Ernie Els and Lee Westwood are set to tee it up in long shot hopes of extending lengthy Masters runs. Els has missed Augusta just once since 1994; while Westwood has a run of 13 straight in jeopardy. For Westwood, Houston is the only non-major U.S. stop he’s played since 2015

For me, the top ten names in the field this week would be: Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker, Thomas Pieters, and if he decides to tee it up, Ian Poulter. In all, Six of the Top-20 players in the world are on site.

For the favourites, it’s all about preparation. Mickelson, whose 4 ½-year winless drought came to an end in Mexico, will fine tune after his Friday departure from the Match Play. He had four straight top-10 finishes before Austin. Jordan Spieth also failed to make it out of group play in Austin,  falling to Ryder Cup partner Patrick Reed. Jordan has yet to place higher than ninth this season.

Finally, the Houston Open has gone to a playoff 23 times in 72 editions – almost one in three – So don’t be surprised to see one again this week

One last note: Houston is the perfect tune-up tournament ahead of next week, so even if the top players aren’t right at the top of the leaderboard, its important to take note of how their chipping and putting look – the greens, as I sort of mentioned earlier, are very similar to the setup at Augusta, so if guys are having a tough time here they stand basically no chance around Augusta’s greens,  but you can find some guys in good form that maybe don’t put up the best scores, but look good around the greens – something to keep in mind for next week, which, of course, is MASTERS WEEK!

This Weeks Picks by Tier

Favourites

  1.  Phil Mickelson
  2.  Justin Rose
  3.  Rickie Fowler

Contenders

  1.  Luke List
  2.  Rafael Cabrera-Bello
  3.  Russell Henley

Long shots

  1.   Rory Sabbatini
  2.   Chez Reavie
  3.  Corey Conners

Here’s the Spreadsheet for reference

spreadhouston

That’s it for the week.

Follow me on Twitter @RJMcCullough

Check out the Podcast or Video below

 


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