|Shell Houston Open - March 30, 2009
SHELL HOUSTON OPEN
Redstone Golf Club (Tournament)
Par: 36-36—72Yards: 7,457
Winner's FedExCup Points Share: 500
Purse: $5,700,000Winner: $1,026,000
2008 Champion: Johnson Wagner (272, -16)
Shell Houston Open Brings Back
Good Memories for Wagner
Johnson Wagner won both of his Nationwide Tour titles in 2006 and then graduated to the PGA TOUR. He came close to winning in his rookie year in 2007, finishing second to Chad Campbell at the Viking Classic late in the year during the Fall Series.
Wagner was able to exact some revenge on Campbell a few months later when he took a two-stroke victory over Campbell and Geoff Ogilvy at the Shell Houston Open for his first TOUR title. The victory propelled Wagner to a 60th-place finish in the FedExCup and helped him pass the $1-million mark in earnings, something he’s done in each of his first two TOUR seasons.
The Shell Houston Open is the first of four Texas events on the schedule this year—with Irving, Fort Worth and San Antonio also hosting tournaments.
This year, Wagner has one top-10 performance, a 10th-place finish at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship. Wagner tied for 30th at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Shell Houston Open Notes
The Presidents Cup captains Fred Couples (U.S.) and Greg Norman (International) will be able to keep an eye on their prospective team members this week when both players tee it up at the Shell Houston Open. Couples is a past champion at the Shell Houston Open, winning by four strokes in 2003. Norman's best finish at this event was his runner-up performance in 1988, when he lost in a three-hole playoff to Curtis Strange. Couples is playing in his 17th Shell Houston Open, while Norman is making his sixth appearance and first since 2002. Sergio Garcia, who has two Lone Star State victories to his credit—at the 2001 MasterCard Colonial in Fort Worth and the 2004 EDS Byron Nelson Championship in Irving—is playing in his first Shell Houston Open. Ernie Els is in the Shell Houston Open field for only the second time. He tied for 17th in his only other appearance, in 2003.
Eight of the top-10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are playing in this week's Shell Houston Open.
With Redstone Golf Club’s Tournament Course set up as close as possible to conditions at Augusta National, the site of next week’s Masters Tournament, numerous European players are making final preparations for the first major championship of 2009. Eight European players ranked in the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking are playing this week. They are Sergio Garcia (No. 3), Padraig Harrington (No. 5), Robert Karlsson (No. 7), Henrik Stenson (No. 10), Paul Casey (No. 12), Lee Westwood (No. 14), Rory McIlroy (No. 17) and Martin Kaymer (No. 20).
No players managed to record all four rounds in the 60s at the 2008 Shell Houston Open. Throughout the last 15 years of the tournament (dating to 1994), just four players have achieved the feat, each winning the tournament that year: Mike Heinen (1994), Vijay Singh (2002), Fred Couples (2003) and Stuart Appleby (2006).
The eight-acre lake adjacent to the par-4 18th hole at Redstone Golf Club’s Tournament Course has been dubbed “The Big Ball Washer” because of its propensity for attracting errant shots. In 2006, the first year the Shell Houston Open was held at Redstone, the lake claimed 59 balls, according to ShotLink. In 2007, 53 balls ended up in the water, including one by eventual champion, Adam Scott, who hit his tee shot into the lake at the 72nd hole but recovered to win. Last year, 41 balls found the lake, making a total of 153 balls in three years.
The final-round scoring average at the par-72 Redstone Golf Club's Tournament Course in 2008 was 71.722, while the cumulative average for the week was 72.068. The par-4 18th hole ranked as the toughest all week, with an average of 4.389, making it one of the PGA TOUR’s toughest finishing holes. The par-5 eighth hole was the easiest of the week at 4.656.