03/29/2016

With the spectacle that is Augusta National Golf Club looming only days away, it’s the Shell Houston Open that has become less a “great, storied tournament in Texas golf,” and more a “last ditch effort to earn a place in the field for the Masters.”

If you want to have some fun prepping for the Shell Houston Open, kill some time at work watching videos from the Shell Houston Open’s YouTube page.

Last Year’s SHO Top-10

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Here’s last year’s top-10 from the 2015 Shell Houston Open. An American dominated board and Spieth finishing second before he took the world by storm.

Watch the highlights here:

 

Full 2016 Field at the Shell Houston Open

Click here for a full field list of the guys at the SHO.

Past 5 Winners at Bay Hill

Course Overview: GC of Houston

A private golf course in Humble, Texas (don’t pronounce the “h”), it’s been the home for the SHO since 2003. It’s a course that has embraced it’s role as “Augusta prep-time” for the players who decide to play– 34 of whom are in the field this week.

A course where hitting the fairways is one of the least important metrics to track, this is a shot where value is placed on the approach shots. Past champions do very well in par-4 scoring and GIR. The course is rumored to be in fantastic condition, complete with its shaved down banks and cleaned out areas around the greens.

Tour the course.

putting series

This Week’s Picks

Three from the Fairway (Contenders)

1. Phil Mickelson

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He’s an absolute horse for the course and I’m sick and tired of ignoring him in my fantasy pools. On a golf course that has the Augusta National set-up (no doubt, a lure to top players to tee it up), Phil has made this a Texas ATM stop for him over the past 10 years.

Don’t sleep on Phil this week. The only reason to go against him this week is because of high own rates. Otherwise, go with Phil.

2. Louis Oosthuizen

Oosthuizen - USGolfTV

This is a form selection, as his play last week shows that he may be one of the fastest growing Masters pool plays for next week–and this pick is more about Oosthuizen than just his swing, Sobel! 😉

He made it to the finals, obviously, in the Dell Match Play, but before that he’s been playing well stateside. In his last 7 starts, he’s finished inside the top-15 in 6 of those starts, including a win.

In 2012 & 2013 here, Oosthuizen registered top-10s and despite back-to-back missed cuts, I’m liking me some Louis this week.

His lethargic attitude could spell let down, but I think his good play as of late and his healthy back still translates to success in Houston. A top-20 player this week.

3. Ryan Palmer

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He’s a player with the big, high, long draw off the tee and a game that seems carbon cut to be strong at Augusta National (yeah, yeah, I know…add him to the list). His play hasn’t translated to success at Augusta aside from a sneaky top-10 in 2011. But that doesn’t mean it can’t translate an event to his home state.

Top-10 here in 2014 and top-25 finisher three other times, Palmer has yet to miss a cut in 2016. He hasn’t won since the 2010 Sony, but he’s a consistent force on Tour.

He’s been riding high the past few weeks…

So I like Ryan Palmer to finish inside the top-25.

More Contenders to Consider

  • Henrik Stenson (GIR mogul and a hot player after Bay Hill)
  • J.B. Holmes (past winner, long baller with GIR history, solid play in 2016)
  • Scott Brown (my pick to win at Bay Hill, then finished T5 in PR)

putting series

One from the Rough (Sleepers)

Lee Westwood

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He’s only made 3 starts in 2016 so far, so his lack of play makes him a concern for many. As for me, I like the fact that he’s finished inside the top-30 in 6 of his past 7 starts here in Houston and he’s been a horse at Augusta every year.

Speaking of horse, makes sense with Westwood lately…

Westwood may be an overlooked resource this week and may come out and play some very refreshed and rejuvenated golf. I’m going with him as a sleeper in my pools, how about you?

The Man With the Trophy

Scott Piercy

Scott Piercy

A T17 in his last stroke play start on Tour and a top-10 finisher here in 2015, Scott Piercy is my pick to win the second event of his career this week at the SHO. Perhaps he’s an under the radar pick this week, but I’ve got a feeling.

A 37-year old veteran of professional golf, Piercy has only made one start at Augusta National over his 8+ seasons on the big Tour. It was a made cut, but a T54 finish. No doubt he’ll be excited to be back this year, having earned an exemption with his qualifying for the 2015 Tour Championship.

I like Piercy for a few reasons this week, along with his solid play as of late and a strong history at this course (5-for-5).

Ranked 48th in the OWGR, Piercy is a top-60 player in both driving distance and greens in regulation for 2016. Despite a negative strokes gained putting category (he’s gained strokes in each of the past two stroke play events), he’s solid in par-4 scoring on Tour, a stat category which matters at this event.

Also, I liked this from his golf coach this week:

Don’t forget Piercy’s 63 here either:

Learn a little more about Piercy here before the win:

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