Shell Houston Open 2014 Betting Tips & Preview- @gbenno79 provides the final PGA tour preview before we head into the Masters next week! Fantastic field this week in Houston, who will come out on top?
Shell Houston Open 2014 :Garcia The Man For Houston Success
Course : Golf Club of Houston (Tournament), 7,441 yards, par 72. ( New name ), This will be the 67th staging of the Shell Houston Open, D. A. Points (2013), Hunter Mahan (2012), Phil Mickelson (2011), Anthony Kim (2010), Englishman Paul Casey (2009), Australians Adam Scott (2007) and Stuart Appleby (2006) and native Texan Johnson Wagner (2008) won the first eight events played on the Tournament Course, designed by Rees Jones with input from PGA TOUR player David Toms. Returning as the lead-in event before The Masters, tournament officials are optimistic about attracting another world class field. The Rees Jones design that earns praise for its ability to replicate Augusta National’s setup. The former Redstone GC changed hands last spring as new owners Escalante Golf snapped up four Houston-area clubs. What hasn’t changed are the shaved banks, collection areas around the greens and a Stimpmeter reading of 13 or more. The 488-yard 18th, with water running along the entire left side, the course has ten holes with water in play so there is many dangers lurking, this course consistently ranks among the PGA TOUR’s toughest closing holes.
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Inside The Field : Rory McIlroy, golfs World Number 7, heads the Bookmakers market here in Houston. McIlroy has only 1 top 10 finish on the PGA Tour this season to date, but it was a runner up finish at the Honda Classic, although worryingly when the heat was on in the final round he shot an awful 74. World No. 3 Henrik Stenson, runner-up to D.A. Points a year ago, has not got his PGA Tour season up and running just yet but he will be eager to get back to form before next weeks Major. Him along with 2011 Shell Houston Open champion Phil Mickelson are the fancied runners in the field field that feature 11 of the top 20 in this week’s world rankings. Other top-10 entrants are World No. 8 ( Spaniard ) Sergio Garcia and No. 9 Dustin Johnson, as well as FedExCup points leader Jimmy Walker. International players include Italy’s Matteo Manassero and South Africa’s Branden Grace.
Previous Winners- 2013 – D.A Points, 2012 – H.Mahan, 2011 – P.Mickelson, 2010 – A.Kim, 2009 – P.Casey
Course Records :
72-HOLE RECORD: 266, Curtis Strange and Lee Trevino (1980 at Woodlands CC), Vijay Singh (2002 at TPC Woodlands). GCH record: 268, Phil Mickelson (2011).
18-HOLE RECORD: 62, Ron Streck (3rd round, 1981 at Woodlands CC), Fred Funk (3rd round, 1992 at TPC Woodlands). GCH record: 63, Johnson Wagner (1st round, 2008), Adam Scott (1st round, 2008), Jimmy Walker (1st round, 2011), Phil Mickelson (3rd round, 2011).
Finding a winner here at the Shell Houston Open looks in theory a lot easier than last weeks event at the Valero Texas Open, where 300/1 outsider, Steven Bowditch claimed the title. Generally, the winner of this tournament has won a title before on the PGA Tour. Although this is a long course, you don't necessarily need to be long off the tee, with former winners like Johnson Wagner and Hunter Mahan, whose driving distances are average. What is important here is hitting greens, with 10 holes on the course having water hazards, keeping the ball in play is a must. Also, like last weeks event, a players scrambling ability looks to be very important here. It may also be worth dodging a few of the players near the top of the market as they may be coming here to play themselves into form for next weeks Major at the Masters.
Spaniard Sergio, has 26 wins as a pro so he knows how to get the job done if he is in with a shout at the weekend. Sergio has won 8 times on the PGA Tour but maybe he should have had more by this point in his career, and certainly his talent warrants that Major win which seems elusive at the moment. His last win was on the European Tour back in January of this year, at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, where he beat Mikko Illonen in a play off. Garcia has started the PGA Tour year well – he has played in 5 events, making all five cuts, and each time he has finished in the top 25. His best result to date was an 8th place finish at the Honda Classic, just a few weeks ago. Sergio's greens in regulation stats are at 70% at the moment which is encouraging for this weeks event.
Charl has only ever won one PGA Tour title which was the Major at Augusta in April 2011, with this in mind, he obviously plays decent golf in that month. The South African has won twelve times as a professional and for such a talented golfer he should have won more. His last win was quite recent back in December 2013, where he won the Alfred Dunhill Championship for the second time in 2 years. So far on the PGA Tour this year, he has played four events, making the cut on three occasions, which also accumulated to three top-25 finishes. His best effort so far on tour was a fifth place finish at the Northern Trust Open in February.
The U.S. Open champ of 2012 will win in 2014, it is just a matter of time for the North Carolina native. Simpson has won four times already on tour and will surely add to this in the coming months. His last win was in October of 2013 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where he blasted the field apart and won by six shots with a total score of 24 under par. So far in 2014 on the PGA Tour, Webb has played in nine events and amassed five top-10 finishes already which is impressive – the only thing missing is the elusive victory. His best effort so far this year was at the first event of the year at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where he finished in third position. His stats so far this season are also encouraging, with 69% of greens in regulation and 62% for scrambling.
'Cool Hand Luke' is starting to pick up his form and it will be no surprise to see the Englishman picking up his first win in nearly two years this week at the Shell Houston Open. Luke is a multiple winner as a professional, but has struggled with his game since his last win on the European Tour in May 2012, when he won the BMW PGA Championship, where he beat Paul Lawrie and Justin Rose to return to World Number 1 at the time. He is now ranked as the 27th best player in the world and will be looking to creep back up the world rankings as quickly as possible. Like Garcia, for a top class golfer, he is yet to win a Major and it must be said at the moment – he doesn't look like winning one, but I feel that he will have a strong 2014. He has played in five events so far on the PGA Tour this year, making five cuts and finishing in the top 10 on two occasions.
Brian is my outsider for the week, after so many outsiders winning so far this season, Harman can be the next surprise winner on tour. With three top 10 finishes in 2014, Harman has made a bright start to the year and I feel he could cause a shock here at the Shell Houston Open. One worrying stat for Harman is that the winner of this tournament has usually won a title on tour beforehand. He has made nine cuts out of 13 events played and he must have an each way shout this week leading up to the Masters, where many of the big boys may take their eye off the ball here in Houston. Harman is currently ranked 40th in the FedEx Cup race, he is not a big hitter so his precise play may work in his favour here.