The Tour heads to the Golf Club of Houston for the last event before the Masters. For top players, it’s their final chance to work out any kinks before the year’s first major, and for fringe players, it’s the last chance to play their way into the Masters.
When the Shell Houston Open moved its date to the week before the Masters in 2006, they set out to find a way to draw the world’s top players to Houston, despite being the week before golf’s biggest event. Their recipe? Create an atmosphere and playing conditions that mimic Augusta to give players as close to a taste of the main stage as possible. The recipe has worked, and as usual, this year’s Shell Houston Open field is top-notch. Defending champion J.B. Holmes returns along with 11 other top 25 players, including the likes of Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson. They will be challenged by the “major-like” playing conditions of quick bentgrass greens, low-cut fairways and tough pin placements.
What could you expect besides A+ conditioning at the Golf Club of Houston? Located in the Houston suburb of Humble, the Rees Jones design is a lengthy par-72 that measures 7,400+ yards. Ample landing areas make the Tour’s long-hitters happy and lead to high greens-in-regulation percentages. The Golf Club of Houston’s signature hole is the finishing 484-yard 18th, which challenges players off the tee with a lake that runs down the left side of the entire hole, penalizing any wayward shot.
Hardboiled Picks to Click
Stud: Phil Mickelson
DraftKings Salary: $10,500
Similar to Augusta, the Golf Club of Houston fits Mickelson’s eye. The veteran hasn’t finished worse than 17th in his past 5 starts at the event. Mickelson also comes to the event in top form, having 3 top-5 finishes in his past 6 stroke-play events.
Value: Patton Kizzire
DraftKings Salary: $7,400
Last year’s Web.com Tour money list winner has had a solid start to his rookie season on the PGA Tour, having made 9 of 11 cuts. Kizzire is a birdie machine (having led the Web.com Tour in birdies in 2015), and the SHO’s wide fairways should give him plenty of opportunities. Last week, Kizzire was able to advance to the round of 16 in a pool that included highly regarded Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes.
Longshot: Bronson Burgoon
DraftKings Salary: $5,400
This PGA Tour rookie grew up in nearby Woodlands, TX and played collegiate golf at Texas A&M, so he should feel at home at the Golf Club of Houston. Burgoon has shown he belongs on Tour by making 6 of 8 cuts in 2016 and registering 2 top 25s in his past 4 events.
2016’s first major isn’t the Masters but the ANA Inspiration, the LPGA tournament with the tradition of the winner taking a dive into “Poppie’s Pond”, which borders the 18th at Mission Hills Country Club. Last year’s champion, Brittany Lincicome, will be back to defend her title. The contenders standing in the way include fellow American and 2014 champion Lexi Thompson, world number 1 Lydia Ko and world number 2 and 2013 champion Inbee Park. Since Mission Hills typically favors longer hitters, look for one of the LPGA bombers to take the victory plunge.
The Masters: 8 days & counting
Having success in your Masters pools is often dependent on finding the lesser-known players who make their way into one of the last groups on Sunday. We put together our favorite longshot players that could compete for the green jacket here.
Speaking of Augusta
Calling all golf course architecture and Augusta fans, LINKS Magazine got their hands on the original (and only) pre-design sketches that Alister MacKenzie rendered of Augusta National. The piece goes into detail on the sour relationship that MacKenzie had with Augusta founder Cliff Roberts (not the only one with those feelings) and the creation of many of Augusta’s most famous holes. If you want to have a deeper understanding of the history of Augusta and the creation of golf’s most dramatic holes, we highly suggest taking a look at LINKS Magazine’s article here.
UC Davis pulled the upset of the golf season at the Goodwin, Stanford’s annual invitational tournament. The Huskies (UC-Davis) entered the tournament ranked 101st in the country and managed to win the 26-team event by an astounding 10 shots over 33-ranked runner-up UNLV, 12 shots over number 8-ranked Stanford and 30 shots over top-ranked USC.
The other big event of the week was FarmLinks Collegiate, a rare match play event. The semifinals pitted 4 of the country’s golf blue bloods against each other: 6th-ranked Auburn, 10th-ranked Vanderbilt, 17th-ranked Alabama and 47th-ranked Georgia Tech. Vanderbilt was able to pull off the victory, knocking off Georgia Tech in the semifinal and Auburn in the title match.
Activate your glutes by doing the lateral lunge with shoulder press. This exercise will help you target those glutes while working on strength and stability in your hips and upper body.
Does it come with a round? Your chance to own an Augusta sign.
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