|Shell Houston Open - March 31, 2008
SHELL HOUSTON OPEN
Redstone Golf Club
Par: 36-36—72Yards: 7,457
FedExCup Points: 25,000Winner: 4,500
Purse: $5,600,000Winner: $1,080,000
2007 Champion: Adam Scott (271, -17)
This week, Phil Mickelson is making his fourth career start at the Shell Houston Open. He missed the cut in his first appearance in 1995, tied for 30th in 1998 and tied for 28th in 2003.
Fred Couples, the recently named 2009 United States Presidents Cup Captain, played in his first Shell Houston Open in 1981. That year he missed the cut but has made it to the weekend in his last 14 appearances—including most recently in 2004, when he tied for 49th. Should Couples make the cut this week he’ll move into a tie for second place on the tournament’s consecutive-cuts-made list, with Jimmy Demaret still the leader, with 17. Couples has four top-10 finishes in the tournament, including his victory in 2003.
Australia’s Adam Scott became the fourth consecutive international winner of the Shell Houston Open with his 2007 win. Scott joined fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby (2006) and Fiji’s Vijay Singh (2004-05) as international champions. Players from outside the U.S. have won seven out of the last nine events, dating to 1999. The only American winners in that time are Fred Couples in 2003 and Hal Sutton in 2001. Overall, the Shell Houston Open has had 12 international champions, winning a total of 16 tournaments.
A strong field is on hand this week at the Shell Houston Open as players make their final preparations for the Masters Tournament, the first major championship of the season. Since 1934, only five players have won the week before they earned a green jacket. Phil Mickelson was the latest to do so in 2006, when he won the BellSouth Classic. He is joined by Sandy Lyle (1988 Greater Greensboro Open), Art Wall (1959 Azalea Open), Sam Snead (1949 Greater Greensboro Open) and Ralph Guldahl (1939 Greater Greensboro Open).
Adam Scott earned his fifth official PGA TOUR victory at the 2007 Shell Houston Open in his 95th start on TOUR. Scott was 26 years, 8 months, 16 days at the time of his win, making him the youngest winner of the Shell Houston Open since David Duval in 1998, who won at 26 years, 5 months, 24 days. Corey Pavin, who won in 1984 at 24 years, 4 months, 13 days, is the event’s youngest winner.
Adam Scott played the final 36 holes of last year’s event without a bogey, including a 48-foot par-saving putt on the 72nd hole.
In contention all week in 2007, Bubba Watson was attempting to become only the second lefthander to win the Shell Houston Open. Watson eventually tied for second, three strokes behind winner Adam Scott. New Zealand’s Bob Charles won the Houston Classic in 1963, which also gave him the distinction of being the first lefthander to win a PGA TOUR event.
- It’s been all or nothing for Stuart Appleby at the Shell Houston Open. In seven career starts in the event, Appleby has won twice, finished second twice and missed the cut three times.
- More on Appleby: In his last three starts at the Shell Houston Open, Appleby has finished first (2006) and tied for second twice (2005, 2007). In the two years the tournament has been played at The Tournament Course at Redstone GC, Appleby is 33-under par with seven rounds in the 60s.
- One more on Appleby: While TOUR players frequently do most of their damage on the par-5s, Appleby has excelled on the par-4s at Redstone. In the past two years, he’s 21-under on the par-4s and just 12-under on the par-5s. His long putting may be the reason—he’s made 13 of 26 putts between 10 and 15 feet in length and six over 25 feet during that span.
- There’s a very strong field assembled in Houston this week with five of the Top-10 players in the current FedExCup standings on hand. Scheduled to compete this week are Phil Mickelson (2nd), K.J. Choi (4th), Justin Leonard (6th), Steve Stricker (7th) and Geoff Ogilvy (10th).
- International players have dominated at the Shell Houston Open over the past 10 years. Players from outside the U.S. have won seven of the last 10 tournaments with Aussies winning four of them. Stuart Appleby was the winner in 1999 and 2006 while Robert Allenby won in 2000 and Adam Scott last year. Vijay Singh of Fiji won three times over the past decade—2002, 2004, 2005.
- Andres Romero made the biggest leap in the FedExCup standings last week with his victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans vaulting him from 135th place all the way to 14th. Peter Lonard was nearly as successful, moving from 107th to 24th after finishing second.
- It was a week to celebrate the international nature of the three Tours last week. International players won on all three last week—Andres Romero of Argentina on the PGA TOUR, Bernhard Langer of Germany on the Champions Tour and Gavin Coles of Australia on the Nationwide Tour.
- When Billy Mayfair tees it up this Thursday at the Shell Houston Open it will be his 600th career start.
- Tim Simpson finished in a T2 last week at the Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach for his best effort to date on the Champions Tour. It was his best finish on any of the Tours since finishing second at the 1995 Buffalo Open on the Nationwide Tour. His last victory came on the PGA TOUR at the 1990 Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic.
- Bob Gilder played in his 100th consecutive Champions Tour event last week. He’s still way shy of Dana Quigley’s all-time mark of 264.
- This week’s The Cap Cana marks the Champions Tour first official money event in the Caribbean since the 1996 Senior Tournament of Champions was held in Puerto Rico.
- Bernhard Langer’s eight-stroke victory last week at the Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach was the largest margin of victory on the Champions Tour since his eight-stroke win at the 2007 Administaff Small Business Classic.
- More on Langer: He now has three Champions Tour victories in only 11 starts. He won three times on the PGA TOUR in 302 career starts.
- He’s Mr. Even-Numbered Years. Gavin Coles won his fourth Nationwide Tour career title last week at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Dynamic Industries. His four titles have come in 2002-2004-2006 and 2008.
- With Gavin Coles winning last week, Australians have won three of the first five Nationwide Tour events this year. Coles joins Jarrod Lyle and Ewan Porter who won earlier this year.
- Brendon de Jonge finished in a T3 last week for his best finish in 84 career starts on the Nationwide Tour. It was his second Top-10 of the season and it boosted him to 14th on the money list.
- Five-time Nationwide Tour winner Chris Couch is a fully-exempt PGA TOUR member, but has not played on the TOUR yet this season while recovering from a shoulder injury. He returned to the Nationwide Tour last week for his first rehab start and made the cut in Louisiana, finishing in a T55.