The Shell Houston Open returns to the Golf Club of Houston, with Jim Herman set to defend his first PGA TOUR title. Here is a preview and power ranking to aid in your research.
The GC of Houston is a familiar pre-Masters tune up of 7,441 yards and playing to a par value of 72. It features the expected quartet of par 5s and par 3s to go with 10 par 4s. Players should expect extremely fast greens set to mimic the putting surfaces of Augusta National that await next week.
It is a course that can favor longer players with the ability to navigate par 5 scoring opportunities. Also of note, three of the par 4s measure 480 yards or longer. Past champs like J.B. Holmes, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott drive home the point.
Because a win at the Shell Houston Open is the last call for a Masters invite, expect those without a tee time next week to be pressing for the title. Herman scored that last year, as did Matt Jones back in 2014.
After taking a hard look at current form, course history and statistical fit, here are the names left standing in this week’s power ranking.
1. Phil Mickelson – It’s possible that things couldn’t have gone much better for Lefty last week in Austin. He ultimately lost out in the quarterfinals, but that saved him potentially having to play an additional 36 holes on Sunday. He was arguably one of the top three or four performers, so form is on point. Throw in a win here in 2011 and top 20s in every year since, and we have the top man on the list.
2. Henrik Stenson – The Swede is a course horse here. He’s made all five of his cuts, with three top threes including two runner-ups. The most recent runner-up was a T2 last year. He threw us a curveball with a MC at Bay Hill.
3. Jon Rahm – Continues to exceed already lofty expectations, taking Dustin Johnson to the brink in a runner-up last week in the Match Play. Never teed it up in this event, but who really cares. A course with a full lineup of par 5s will play right into his hands.
4. Jordan Spieth – His first two visits to the GC of Houston were uneventful, but a T2 in 2015 and a T13 last year have changed the outlook for the star from the Lone Star State. Rather average performance in Austin last week, failing to make it out of pool play, but that’s in line with what he did there last year.
5. Rafa Cabrera Bello – After a fourth-place finish here last year, the Spaniard is back for another run. He hasn’t missed a cut anywhere in the world since THE PLAYERS in 2016. For those unfamiliar with his game, he’s a bomber who will have no trouble with 7,441 yards.
6. Russell Henley – As a rule, I tend to stay away from Henley on par-72 layouts. That said, everything else is lining up for the University of Georgia product. Has six top 25s in his last nine starts dating back to last year. Last three visits to this course have gone T7-4-T5.
7. J.B. Holmes – Betting on his prowess at GC of Houston over his current form. His four top 12s in six trips include a win in 2015.
8. Rickie Fowler – A scattered 5/5 with two top 10s and three finishes outside of the top 60. This meets our overall expectations regarding Fowler at most places. Certainly can light it up, but also has some risk associated.
9. Patrick Reed – Hometown event for the native Houstonian, but he’s failed to excite us of late. It was a bit of a shock that he failed to make the round of 16 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. He tied for 10th here last year, but current form prevents us from investing with too much confidence.
10. Adam Scott – Not a consistent visitor to the greater Houston area, but a player when he arrives. In addition to a win in 2007, he scored a T10 here in 2014 when he last teed it up. Needs the tune up before driving down Magnolia Lane.
11. Charles Howell III – Made it to the round of 16 last week before ultimately coming up short, but that was considered a bit of an overachievement. With a T5-T7 run at GC of Houston the last two years, the stars are aligning nicely for another profitable, but non-contending, week.
12. Justin Rose – The Englishman has no better than a T14 in four trips, which is below his average considering his class. He’s had a solid 2017, so he’s worth the flier as he makes his final Masters tune up.
13. Daniel Berger – The trend on this layout is a good one, going T25-T5 in his first two looks at the GC of Houston. It’s been a rather average season for the bomber to date, but his long game should continue to thrive here.
14. Charley Hoffman – The 18- and 36-hole leader last year eventually failed to crack the top 25, but that doesn’t change the fact that he has the ability to go low on this venue. He’s also made all 10 of his cuts, with half going for top 25s, at GC of Houston.
15. Bryson DeChambeau – Earns the last spot in this space after finally breaking out of a lengthy funk to post a T2 last week in Puerto Rico. He’s developing the reputation of being a tinkerer that would make Padraig Harrington blush, so perhaps he can avoid changing anything for another week.
Check out all of the Rotoworld staff picks in Playing the Tips. Best of luck to all!