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BlogShell Houston Open Preview and Picks

Shell Houston Open

April 3 – 6, 2014

Redstone G.C. (Tournament Course)

Humble, Texas

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,441

Purse: $6.4 million

with $1,152,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
D.A. Points

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 22 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with five players from the top-ten: #3 Henrik Stenson, #5 Phil Mickelson, #7 Rory McIlroy, #8 Sergio Garcia and #10 Dustin Johnson. The other top 50 players are #11 Matt Kuchar, #13 Jordan Spieth, #15 Steve Stricker, #17 Charl Schwartzel, #18 Keegan Bradley, #24 Webb Simpson, #26 Jimmy Walker, #27 Luke Donald, #30 Graham DeLaet, #31 Bill Haas, $32 Hunter Mahan #34 Ernie Els, #35 Louis Oosthuizen, #38 Lee Westwood, #40 Rickie Fowler, $45 Kevin Streelman and #49 Russell Henley.

The field includes 11 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2014.  Those players are #1 Jimmy Walker, #3 Dustin Johnson, #6 Chris Kirk, #9 Webb Simpson, #12 Jordan Spieth, #14 Kevin Stadler, #16 Graham DeLaet, #18 Keegan Bradley, #19 Brian Stuard, #21 Ryan Palmer and #25 Russell Henley.

The field includes 8 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.  Those players are #1 Jimmy Walker, #2 Dustin Johnson, #8 Webb Simpson, #9 Chris Kirk,  #12 Jordan Spieth, #14 Kevin Stadler, #15 Graham DeLaet, #18 Keegan Bradley, #20 Brian Stuard, #22 Ryan Palmer, #23 Steven Bowditch and #24 Russell Henley.

The field includes 7 past champions: D.A. Points (2013), Hunter Mahan (2012), Phil Mickelson (2011), Paul Casey (2009), Johnson Wagner (2008), Stuart Appleby (2006 & 1999) and Robert Allenby (2000).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Shell Houston Open field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Shell Houston Open in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Shell Houston Open.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Shell Houston Open

Player Valero Texas Arnold Palmer Valspar Champ. WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda Classic WGC Accenture Northern Trust AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Dubai Desert Farmers Qatar Masters
Jordan Spieth
(205.67 pts)
10
(40)
DNP T20
(30)
T34
(16)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
T12
(12.67)
T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP
Matt Kuchar
(170.67 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP T38
(12)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Dustin Johnson
(163.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP T33
(17)
2
(33.33)
T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Keegan Bradley
(161.33 pts)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP T50
(1)
DNP T12
(25.33)
T33
(17)
T20
(10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Jason Kokrak
(159.67 pts)
T31
(19)
4
(80)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP T41
(6)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T19
(10.33)
T15
(11.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(156.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(34)
DNP T8
(33.33)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
Luke Donald
(155.33 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
T25
(25)
DNP T8
(33.33)
T33
(17)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
Graham Delaet
(149.67 pts)
DNP DNP T8
(50)
T34
(16)
DNP DNP T33
(17)
T70
(0)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP
Bill Haas
(145.67 pts)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP T17
(33)
T23
(9)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP
Henrik Stenson
(144.67 pts)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP T16
(34)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP T29
(7)
DNP T28
(7.33)
Jimmy Walker
(142.67 pts)
T16
(34)
DNP DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP T17
(33)
T20
(10)
Win
(44)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Rory McIlroy
(139.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T25
(25)
DNP T2
(66.67)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(15)
DNP DNP
Hunter Mahan
(132.67 pts)
DNP WD
(-5)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
T52
(0)
6
(20)
T4
(26.67)
DNP T47
(1)
DNP
Steven Bowditch
(131 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T37
(8.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T19
(10.33)
T69
(0)
DNP T75
(0)
DNP
Daniel Summerhays
(129.33 pts)
T2
(100)
CUT
(-10)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T29
(7)
T19
(10.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Freddie Jacobson
(121 pts)
T16
(34)
T10
(40)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP
Carl Pettersson
(113.33 pts)
T16
(34)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP T4
(53.33)
T46
(2.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Andrew Loupe
(109.67 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP T27
(7.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Matteo Manassero
(105 pts)
DNP DNP T8
(50)
T60
(0)
DNP T12
(25.33)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
David Hearn
(100.67 pts)
DNP T52
(0)
T8
(50)
DNP T24
(17.33)
T6
(40)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Charl Schwartzel
(94.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T17
(33)
5
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Erik Compton
(94 pts)
WD
(-5)
T5
(70)
T32
(18)
DNP DNP T71
(0)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP
Rickie Fowler
(93.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T44
(6)
DNP T24
(17.33)
3
(90)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Seung-Yul Noh
(93.33 pts)
T16
(34)
T35
(15)
DNP DNP T37
(8.67)
T33
(11.33)
DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP T48
(0.67)
T10
(13.33)
DNP
Charley Hoffman
(91.67 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T61
(0)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Shell Houston Open

Player Valero Texas Arnold Palmer Valspar Champ. WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda Classic WGC Accenture Northern Trust AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Dubai Desert Farmers Qatar Masters
J.J. Henry
(-46.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DQ
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T40
(3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Kyle Stanley
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T61
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Paul Goydos
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Angel Cabrera
(-30 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Mike Weir
(-28.33 pts)
T56
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP
Jeff Overton
(-28.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
WD
(-5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T67
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Hudson Swafford
(-25.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
T61
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
D.A. Points
(-25 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
T62
(0)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP DQ
(-1.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP
John Huh
(-25 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T35
(5)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
D.H. Lee
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Is this good for the PGA Tour?

I just have to wonder if golf and the PGA Tour is on the right track.  Just can’t see interest in the tour and golf in general when you have Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, John Senden, Chesson Hadley, Patrick Reed and Russell Henley winning week in and week out.  They are all great stories on how they got to this point, especially Bowditch when you see the demons he fought with depression, alcoholism and suicide.  It’s a great story of determination and fortitude to see him win.  But it doesn’t help build images if we don’t see Bowditch on the leaderboard in the future.  Have to give Patrick Reed some credit, he has popped up and won three times in the last six months, same with Jimmy Walker winning twice.  The PGA Tour needs hero’s each week winning and when you have guys find their game one week and go away for a year or two, it just doesn’t help golf.

Golf’s DL list, getting a bit crowded with stars

We are now a week away from the first major of the year, gosh it seems like yesterday that Jason Dufner was winning the PGA Championship.  Now on the subject of hero’s, right now the folks that we see winning big events are hurt and we just don’t know if they will be healthy enough to play in the Masters next week.  This may sound unbelievable but we could have a Masters without Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.  That’s seven of the top-32 players in the world and all of them have aches and pains.  Of course when it comes to a sore back, Oblique and bulging discs those are all serious injuries and these are the problems of Tiger, Phil and Oosthuizen.

You think I am kidding, one important link fell on Monday when Tiger Woods went under the surgeons knife in Utah to repair a pinched nerve.  So for the first time since 1995 we will have a Masters without Woods.  I can also see Jason Day as a real serious contender to miss the Masters because of his injuries finger, along with Phil Mickelson who isn’t doing very well with his Obilque.  Also Louis Oosthuizen is hurting so it could be a very weird Masters.

Playing the week before a major

  • In looking at the field there are seven players (#3 Henrik Stenson, #5 Phil Mickelson, #7 Rory McIlroy, #8 Sergio Garcia and #10 Dustin Johnson, #11 Matt Kuchar, #13 Jordan Spieth and #15 Steve Stricker) that are ranked in the top-15 and playing in Houston.  On top of that 8 of the 17 tour winners are in the field along with seven players in the top-15 of the PGA Tour money list. This is a testimonial for what the folks that run the Shell Houston have done in getting the course set up the way it is.
  • Now the disadvantage of playing the week before a major is peaking too soon.  Hunter Mahan has won twice the week before a major, at Houston in 2012 and Bridgestone in 2011 and he was flat at the next major. You always want to win no matter if it’s a major or the week before a major, but winning takes a lot out of you and we can tell you of a lot players that are mentally fried and not able to keep it going the week after winning especially at a major.
  • Now on the other end just look at what happen to Phil Mickelson last year.  He won the Scottish Open and it help get his game in shape for the British Open.  This isn’t the first time that Phil has done that, in 2006 Mickelson won in Atlanta and then won the next week at the Masters.  There is no right or wrong answer on this, it’s all what you feel.  But I leave you with one big thought on this, if the purse for the Shell Houston was say $3 million instead of $6.4 million and if first place was just $500,000 compared to over a million dollars, I bet you a lot of players would take the week off.  Greed at time can be wonderful and frankly a lot of players wouldn’t care less about a major if they could win a million the week before.

This is the last shot for players to get into the Masters.  It’s win this week or take next week off.  A couple in the field this week have some reasons for playing and winning.  For these the week of the Masters has been a regular routine for years and since they don’t have an invite are dying to get in:

  • David Toms – Has played 15 of the last 16 years, did miss 2009
  • Padraig Harrington – Has played the last 14 years starting in 2000
  • Ben Curtis – Has played 8 of the last ten years, missing 2011 & ’12
  • Ryo Ishikawa – Has played the last 5 years going back when he played in 2009 as a 17 year-old
  • Two others that I know also want to get in is Charles Howell III and Geoff Ogilvy.  For Howell he is a Augusta native and has come close to quailifying.  For Ogilvy he is a U.S. Open champion that has fallen on hard times with his game and missed last year’s Masters.  He also plays well at Augusta National finishing T4th in 2011 and in seven starts has five top-30 finishes.  But these six aren’t the only ones, everyone in the field this week not in the Masters would love that last minute invite.

Things you need to know about the Shell Houston Open

This will be the 67th edition of the Shell Houston Open, which was formerly called the Houston Open.  This is its eight year at The Tournament Course at Redstone.  This course was created especially with the Shell Houston Open in mind. In prior years the tournament was held across the street at the Members Course at Redstone.  Before that, the TPC at the Woodlands had been the site between 1985 and 2002.  Courses used before 1985 include the West course at the Woodlands, River Oaks C.C., Memorial Park G.C., Pine Forest C.C., Brae Burn C.C., Sharpstown C.C., Champions G.C., Westwood G.C. and Quail Valley G.C.  The first Shell Houston Open was played in 1946 and was called the Tournament of Champions. Byron Nelson beat Ben Hogan that year by two strokes at River Oaks.

Course information:

  • Redstone G.C. (Tournament Course)
  • Humble, Tx.
  • 7,441 yards     Par 36-36–72
  • The tournament course at Redstone features a course rating of 76.0 and a slope rating from the back tees of 144. The tees, fairway, and rough are TifSport bermudaGrass as the greens are Miniverde bermudagrass. The course is a semi private course and can be played by the public.
  • The average green size at Redstone is 6,500 square feet, which is a little larger than average on the PGA Tour. The course has 50 bunkers and water comes into play on 10 holes.
  • In 2013 the Redstone was the 25th hardest course on the PGA Tour playing to a 71.868 average playing .132 stroke under par.
  • Redstone Golf Club is an anomaly. It’s a relatively new course with a history, located on the site of the former El Dorado Country Club. Designed by Jay Riviere, El Dorado Country Club opened in the 1960s but was closed in the early 1990s as a victim of a suffering Houston economy following the oil bust.
  • Redstone Golf Club’s Tournament Course is one of only 25 courses in the country that are open to the public and host a PGA Tour event. It was designed by Rees Jones with PGA Tour Professional David Toms serving as course design consultant.<P>
  • The course has a variation of different holes, but what sticks out are the short par 4s.  Four of them are under 400 yards but they’re offset by four par 4s that are longer than 460 yards (holes 1, 3, 10 & 12).  It also has a killer finish with the par 3, 16th hole playing at 204 yards and the final two holes playing at 489 and 488 yards.  The last hole was the hardest hole on the course last year playing to a 4.305 average

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Shell Houston Open:

Key stat for the winner:

Now an important stat is hitting lots of greens, last year D.A. Points was T10th while in 2012 Hunter Mahan was tied for the lead in hitting greens. Now between 2009 and 2011 that stat was in play with 2009 winner Paul Casey ranking 22nd, 2010 winner Anthony Kim ranking T53rd and 2011 winner Phil Mickelson ranking T12th. But of the previous nine winners on two other courses they ranked tenth or lower in greens hit.  The 2006 winner, Stuart Appleby, hit 56 of the 72 greens and that was 2nd best in the field.  In 2007, Adam Scott won while hitting 57 of 72 greens which ranked T8.  Runner-up Stuart Appleby was 4th in that stat and Bubba Watson was 12th.  Fourth-place finisher Tommy Armour III led the stat.   2008 winner Johnson Wagner hit 56 of 72 greens and ranked T4th while the leader in greens hit Billy Mayfair finished T4th.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Unimportant stat: Hitting lots of fairways.  Last year’s winner Points was T33rd while the year before Hunter Mahan was T33rd while Mickelson was T71st, 2010 champion Anthony Kim was 80th, 2009 winner Paul Casey ranked T36th while 2008 champion Johnson Wagner was T41st in hitting fairways.  The trend is not hitting it straight anymore on the PGA Tour it’s hitting it long, going a chasing it and hitting the next one on the green and making the birdie putt.
  • Playing well on the par 4s. Points last year was 10 under while in 2012 Mahan was 11 under, Phil Mickelson was 3 under in 2011, Anthony Kim was 4 under in 2010, Paul Casey was 5 under in 2009, Johnson Wagner was 4 under in 2008, Adam Scott was 7 under on the par 4s in 2007 while Appleby was 13 under on them in 2006.  It’s a rare feat when players score lower on the par 4s than the par 5s. Players can’t overpower the par 5s here because the shortest is 557 yards.  On the back nine, the two 5s are 590 and 608 yards, so getting it home in two is near impossible on two of the four par 5s.
  • Since the Houston tournament started in 1946, 15 players have scored their first PGA Tour victories here including 2008 champion Johnson Wagner and 2009 winner Paul Casey.  In the 1990s, this was the hot spot for those achieving their first wins; between 1990 and 1994 all the winners were first timers.
  • Overtime use to be the norm for Houston and since there haven’t been a playoff since 2010 it may be this year.  Since the event was first played there have been 21 playoffs, including 11 in the last 27 years.
  • In looking at the long range weather forecast it’s going to be warm with temperatures between 82 and 86, but each day will have chances of rain, with afternoon thunder-storms.

Who to watch for at the Shell Houston Open

Best Bets:

Keegan Bradley

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T10 T4 T51

Great record at Redstone, last event finished T2nd at Palmer so he will be a force this week.

Dustin Johnson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T4 CUT CUT

Finished T4th last year, course is perfect for him and you have to think he will play great.

Matt Kuchar

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 T8 CUT CUT CUT CUT

Played great last year, this course is great for him and it’s surprising he doesn’t play her more.

Best of the rest:

Rory McIlroy

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T45 CUT T19

Played great last year the week before the Masters, have to think he will have a great week this year.

Henrik Stenson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T2 T21 T3

Game is coming around, has played well here with a runner-up and third in three times played

Jordan Spieth

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T50

Has played great this year, look for it to continue as he gets ready for his first Masters

Lee Westwood

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T10 T21 T30 T8 T11 T56 T49

He has a terrible knack for winning the week before a major, has two top-tens at Redstone so look for him to shine.

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

Solid contenders

Luke Donald

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT CUT T31

Played good at Valspar and Honda, only problem course could be too long for him but that was the reason he changed his swing so maybe this will be a good week for him.

Chris Kirk

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T22 T2

Did finish 2nd here in 2011, could those memories help him.

Webb Simpson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T16 T44 T52

Looking to regain his game, this could be the start.

Sergio Garcia

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T77

Look for him to be prepping his game for the Masters, could play good this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Graham DeLaet

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T31 CUT T3

Only a matter of time before he wins, could this be the week.

J.B. Holmes

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 T42 2 CUT

Long course will suit his game, yes he is playing good again.

Jason Kokrak

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
9 CUT

Game has been good of late.

Not this week:

Phil Mickelson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T16 T4 Win T35 CUT T23 T28

Just can’t see him doing good this week, think he will be easy and not take any chances on the back.

Hunter Mahan

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT Win T8 CUT T6 CUT T5 T11 CUT CUT

Another injured guy that will be taking it easy, if he even plays.

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