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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Shell Houston Open - Preview

With the Florida Swing coming to an end, the PGA TOUR heads to the Lone Star State for the next two weeks before driving down Magnolia Lane for the Masters. The Shell Houston Open is the first of the two stops in Texas, and Redstone Golf Club will continue in their recent tradition of trying to prepare the field for Augusta National with slick greens.

Redstone is also similar to Augusta National in that it's a par 72, featuring four par 5s, and plays to a lengthy 7,441 yards. The Shell Houston Open began using Redstone Golf Club's Tournament in 2006, after a brief stint at Redston's Fall Creek and a lengthy run at TPC Woodlands.

Since 2006, here's a look at the winners and runner-ups:

  • 2006 - Stuart Appleby (19-under), then Bob Estes (13-under)
  • 2007 - Adam Scott (17-under), then Appleby and Bubba Watson (14-under)
  • 2008 - Johnson Wagner (16-under), then Chad Campbell and Geoff Ogilvy (14-under)
  • 2009 - Paul Casey (11-under), then J.B. Holmes (11-under)
  • 2010 - Anthony Kim (12-under), then Vaughn Taylor (12-under)
  • 2011 - Phil Mickelson (20-under), then Chris Kirk and Scott Verplank (17-under)
  • 2012 - Hunter Mahan (16-under), then Carl Pettersson (15-under)
When I look at that list, three things stand out.
  1. There are plenty of fearless drivers of the golf ball on that list. Scott, Watson, Holmes, Mickelson and Mahan all jump off the page for that reason.
  2. There are a number of guys that were in the midst of great seasons on this list. In the case of Kirk and Pettersson, they each picked up wins later in the year. Appleby was still a force on TOUR in 2006. Campbell and Ogilvy were very much in their prime in 2008. Paul Casey in 2009....Anthony Kim in 2010....
  3. While putters aren't featured on this list, Taylor and Wagner could probably thank the flat stick for their success.
If you are looking to unlock the formula for this week's tournament, I would recommend starting with guys who are driving the ball long and without much fear. (Another example is third-place finisher Louis Oosthuizen last year.) Maybe check out total driving with a lean on distance over accuracy. Due to the length of the course and the par 5s, one has to attack off the tee. As always, form and course history will play an important role. The perfect combination for Redstone would be a guy who's in good form, has a steady course history, is long off the tee and a decent putter to boot.

We will see if we can uncover a few of those guys in tomorrow's power rankings.

Happy research!

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