Previews and pre-event analysis from Golf Betting System's PGA Tour and European Tour coverage
To read Steve Bamford's Shell Houston Open Tips for 2014 click here. Follow Steve on twitter: @bamfordgolf
The Shell Houston Open 2014 features a high quality field on a golf course that's as close to Augusta as you will find. A champions list that includes Palmer, Player, Strange, Stewart, Singh and Mickelson highlights a tournament that is well respected by the top players and with The Masters being eagerly awaited, it's always interesting to see who takes this 100% seriously, rather than using it as a competitive practice session for the first Major Championship of the season. Below you will find tournament insight that shape tips and selections. To read Steve Bamford's Shell Houston Open Tips for 2014 click here
Tournament Facts & Scheduling
2014 see's the Shell Houston Open back into it's usual pre Augusta spot in the PGA Tour schedule and most of the Tour's pros, especially Phil Mickelson will welcome that. From 2007 to 2012 Redstone Golf Club hosted the Masters curtain raiser, after it took over from the Georgia based BellSouth Classic, but an early Easter 12 months ago led to the Masters warm-up being held on the Bermudagrass greens of TPC San Antonio last year. The 2014 Shell Houston Open will be played at the newly named Golf Club of Houston on the aptly named Tournament Course, which is a booming 7,441 yard Par 72.
The long layout of the course in-tandem with extremely fast Bentgrass mix greens, makes this is an ideal format for the world's elite, a few days before they travel to Georgia.
Tournament Course, Golf Club of Houston, Humble. Designer: Rees Jones, 2004 Course Type: Resort (low scoring) but depth of scoring is wind dependant Par: 72 Length: 7,441 yards Water Hazards: 13 Fairways: TifSport Bermuda with Perennial Rye Rough: TifSport Bermuda with Perennial Rye 1.25" Greens: 6,700 sq.ft average featuring Miniverde Bermuda overseeded with Bent and Poa trivialis Stimpmeter: +13ft Ranked 34 of 49 courses for difficulty on the 2012 PGA Tour and 25 of 43 in 2013.
Previous Champions 2013: D.A. Points; 2012: Hunter Mahan; 2011: Phil Mickelson; 2010: Anthony Kim; 2009: Paul Casey; 2008: Johnson Wagner; 2007: Adam Scott.
Winners Prices 2013: Points - 250/1; 2012: Mahan - 22/1; 2011: Mickelson - 18/1; 2010: Kim - 25/1
Pre-Tournament Key Summary
The organisers of the Shell Houston Open continually strive to make the Tournament Course play as close to Augusta conditions as possible. Now a relatively flat property on the outskirts of Houston won't ever replicate Augusta National completely and the famous strong winds of the Lone Star State, are in the main much stronger than those experienced in April in Georgia. But the course itself has had masses of work put in place to make ground conditions as close to Augusta as possible.
Course yardage is similar, fairway rough like Augusta is negligible and average green complex size is comparable. Other similarities include mowing patterns, short grass areas all around the greens, shaved banks around greens, and super fast smoother green surfaces, which feature Bent grass overseed. As recently as 2012, more changes involving course setup were done to 6 holes to increase the amount of short grass around the greens to create more chip shots scenarios.
The result has been an ever increasing quality of field whose use the Shell Houston Open as the perfect test-bed to hone their skills for the first Major Championship of the season. The names of Scott and Mickelson within the Champions list speaks volumes for the fact that the organisers are getting the course likeness pretty spot-on. They key though to picking the winner or a likely contender this week is motivation. Yes, Points and Wagner have surprised at huge odds, but Casey (first PGA Tour victory), Kim, Mickelson and Mahan were all after their first wins of their respective seasons and their games were obviously 'Augusta sharp.'
Below we track the results of Golf Betting System PGA Tour tipster Steve Bamford who has been producing weekly tips since 2009. You can also follow him on Twitter @bamfordgolf.