Fan favorites Mickelson, Couples join talent-rich SHO field
HOUSTON, TX (March 21, 2010) - Fan favorites Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples are now on the official commitment list for the Shell Houston Open, set March 29-April 4 at Redstone Golf Club - Tournament Course.
Mickelson, No. 3 in the World Golf Rankings, will be making his third consecutive start in Houston's PGA TOUR stop. Couples, who played collegiate golf at the University of Houston, has already won twice in 2010 on the Champions Tour. He can set a tournament record by making his 17th consecutive cut in Houston, which would tie the all-time mark set by Hall of Famer Jimmy Demaret.
Winner of 37 PGA TOUR events, Mickelson added Houston to his schedule in 2008 when he discovered that the Houston Golf Association had set up its Rees Jones-designed course with short rough mowing patterns similar to those at Augusta National. "This is a very good tune-up for The Masters," Mickelson has told media members on more than one occasion.
Couples, who turned 50 in October, won the Shell Houston Open in 2003, breaking the so-called Cougar Jinx. Despite a large contingent of former UH players on the PGA TOUR over the years, none had ever won the hometown event until Couples claimed the title at the first PGA TOUR event played at Redstone on the Members Course. In 2009 Couples turned back the clock and took the tournament lead into the back nine before finishing in a tie for third.
"Phil and Fred are two of the most popular players in the game and they certainly add to our field strength," said Steve Timms, tournament director for the Shell Houston Open. "We believe we will get more good news on Friday."
In addition to No. 3-ranked Mickelson, the Shell Houston Open field boasts No. 4 Lee Westwood of England, No. 5 Paul Casey, defending SHO champion, No. 7 Martin Kaymer of Germany, No. 8 Ernie Els of South Africa and No. 10 Padraig Harrington of Ireland, plus No. 11 Rory McIlroy, the 20-year-old Irish sensation. Defending Masters champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina and 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover are also in the field.
Players have until Friday to commit or withdraw from the tournament. Timms indicates there could be more high profile commitments. The Shell Houston Open is the last event in which players not already in The Masters Tournament can earn an invitation by winning.