|Shell Houston Open - March 26, 2007
SHELL HOUSTON OPEN
Redstone GC (Tournament Course)
Par: 36-36—72Yards: 7,457
FedExCup Points: 25,000 Winner: 4,500
Purse: $5,500,000Winner: $990,000
2006 Champion: Stuart Appleby (269, -19)
Shell Houston Open Notes
Stuart Appleby’s six-shot victory in 2006 was the largest at the Shell Houston Open, matching Vijay Singh (2002) and Jack Burke, Jr. (1952). Appleby also became the first wire-to-wire winner in the tournament’s history.
As a two-time winner of this event (he also won in 1999), Stuart Appleby is one of five Australians to win the Shell Houston Open. Joining Appleby on the list are Bruce Devlin, Bruce Crampton, David Graham and Robert Allenby.
Steve Stricker, playing with Past Champion status in 2006, tied for third at the Shell Houston Open, his first of seven top-10s last year. Two of those top-10s came at major championships (a tie for sixth at the U.S. Open and a tie for seventh at the PGA Championship). Stricker finished the season 34th on the PGA TOUR money list en route to PGA TOUR Comeback Player of the Year honors. Now inside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Stricker is back in Houston this week and will return to the Masters Tournament for the first time since 2002 next week.
With his scores of 66-67-69-67 in 2006, Stuart Appleby became the sixth Shell Houston Open champion to post four rounds in the 60s. He joins Vijay Singh (2002), Mike Heinen (1994), Curtis Strange (1988), Jay Haas (1987) and Bob Charles (1963).
Brett Wetterich recorded his first top-10 of the season, a tie for sixth, at the 2006 Shell Houston Open, just his fourth top-10 in 78 career starts. He went on to win the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, earn a berth on the U.S. Ryder Cup squad and finish 10th on the money list, with more than $3 million in earnings. Last week, he finished second at the World Golf Championships-CA Championship.
As the fifth-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, Adam Scott will be making his fourth appearance at the Shell Houston Open and his first start in Houston since 2003.
Tim Clark, the 2006 Masters runner-up, is in the Shell Houston Open field. It will be Clark’s third event of 2007. He suffered a neck injury in November in the pro-am at the Nelson Mandela Invitational, South Africa’s premier golf charity event. He tied for 63rd last week at the World Golf Championships-CA Championship.
David Toms, the PGA TOUR consultant on the Rees Jones-designed Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club, is looking for his first PGA TOUR victory since the 2006 Sony Open in Hawaii. Toms is ranked No. 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
By winning the Shell Houston Open for a second time, Stuart Appleby became the ninth multiple winner of the event, joining Cary Middlecoff (1950, 1953), Mike Souchak (1955, 1964), Jack Burke, Jr. (1952, 1958), Arnold Palmer (1957, 1966), Bobby Nichols (1962, 1965), Bruce Crampton (1973, 1975), Curtis Strange (1980, 1986, 1988) and Vijay Singh (2002, 2004-05).
E NOTES FROM THE PGA TOUR
- You might want to look for an Aussie to challenge this week at the Shell Houston Open. Since the tournament began in 1946, Australians have won the title seven times while finishing second six times. Of the events on TOUR, only the British Open (nine wins by Aussies) has seen more Australians win than Houston. By the way, there are 12 in the field this week.
- The new look Florida Swing produced four of the six toughest courses on TOUR so far this season. Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational) is the toughest to date, playing to a stroke average of 2.054 over par. PGA National (The Honda Classic) is second with Innisbrook (PODS Championship) fifth and Doral (WGC-CA Championship) sixth.
- 32 players who graduated from the Nationwide Tour or the Q-School last year are among the Top 144 players on the FedExCup points list. The 32 players have averaged 7.7 starts this year.
- Sergio Garcia has back-to-back Top-10 finishes (T5-T3). He has not had three in a row since the 2002 season.
- Robert Allenby continues to rack up the Top-10 finishes. He has six in his first eight starts this year or as many as he had in 53 starts in the 2005 and 2006 seasons combined. The six are also the most he’s had in a season since he recorded nine in 2003. While he hasn’t won, his steady play has him in eighth place in the FedExCup points race.
- Talk about eliminating the left side — Kyle Reifers has missed the fairway left off the tee only nine times in 140 tee shots (6.43%). Shaun Micheel misses right the least of anyone on TOUR—7.66% (19 of 248).
- Andy Bean enters this week’s Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach with a strong record in the previous Florida events. Bean has finished T9-T2-T7 in the first three Champions Tour events in the state this year. He won four titles in his PGA TOUR careeer in Florida.
- The Ocean Hammock course, site of this week’s Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach, was designed by Jack Nicklaus. It is one of four Nicklaus courses on the Champions Tour in 2007.
- There’s a great field assembled this week at Ocean Hammock with 16 former major championship winners on the PGA TOUR on hand. The 16 have combined for 38 major championships. There are also 22 former Champions Tour major championship winners competing. They’ve combined to win 43 Champions Tour majors.
- Skip Kendall set a new Nationwide Tour record for most time elapsed between victories with his win at last week’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open. It came 12 years, eight months and 27 days since his last win at the 1994 Carolina Classic.
- You might think that opening with a 60 in a tournament would certainly lead to victory, but that has not proven to be the case. Three times a player has opened a Nationwide Tour event with a first-round 60, including Brenden Pappas last week, but only one has won. Chris Nallen performed the feat at the 2004 Gila River Classic. Pappas ended in a T12 while Jimmy Green finished second at the 1998 Carolina Classic.
- Miguel Carballo won the season-opening Movistar Panama Championship and last week made his U.S. debut on the Nationwide Tour. He began in promising fashion with rounds of 69-67 before falling back on the weekend and finishing T77. He’s third on the money list behind Scott Sterling and Nicholas Thompson.