Steve Bamford's Shell Houston Open Tips.
A visit to Humble seems quite apt the week before The Masters. It’s a bit of a misleading tournament for a number of reasons. Firstly the course is set-up to play as close to Augusta as possible. Difficult on a flat piece of property in Texas! However the organisers have built a number of Augusta type features into the event.
Players continually comment that the Shell Houston Open feels like a ‘major’ in terms of its organisation and professionalism. They also comment that the greens, both in terms of size, contours, grass and speed play extremely similarly to the hallowed turf at Augusta.
So you could be led quite easily into thinking that the very best dominate around Redstone. Well you’d be wrong and it's for a very obvious reason. As a player if you seriously think you can contend at Augusta, you won’t destroy your chances in Georgia by contending here in Texas.
Take Casey last year in this event. Many observers felt that the Cheltenham born player had a great shot at a green jacket. His game was in superb nick, so much so that he found himself in contention after 2 rounds and mentally placed himself in a position where his first PGA Tour victory became the priority. Sure enough he triumphed in Humble and then failed in Augusta. The exact same process can be said for Adam Scott in 2007.
It's extremely likely that one of the Top 15 in the world will triumph this week, but then don’t expect them to get anywhere close to contention in Augusta! For me this week I’ve gone for quality players who are in-form or returning to form, who have great links with Texas/Arizona and who have a decent record around Rees Jones designed courses. They have GOT to be long off the tee as well as this course is all about length, power bombing and great wind play as all Texas events are.
It's hard to ignore Kaymer this week. This is a long bomber’s course and Kaymer is certainly one of those. Hungry to win on the PGA Tour for the first time so, if he can, he’ll go for the win. Indeed Kaymer’s form at the Scottish Masters at Loch Lomond proves he has focus to win the week prior to a Major. Played here last year (42nd) and has been based in Arizona for a lot of 2010
Texas-based Kim is long enough and talented enough to win around Redstone. The course's wide fairways will suit. He’s a great wind player as proven at the recent Honda Classic and his form is slowly getting back to where he ended 2008. 4th in this week’s Predictor model and Kim won’t hesitate to go for his much needed 3rd PGA Tour victory this week.
Again 66/1 is a totally justified price for the South Carolina based Glover who is the reigning US Open Champion. Lucas has always been inconsistent and this season his collapse after 3 rounds at the season opening SBS Championship took its toll mentally. However that appearance in Hawaii highlight’s Glovers liking for long wide spaces, allied to his great wind play capacity. Putting it straight Lucas loves Rees Jones courses indeed guess who designed Bethpage Black…
The case for Y.E. is very similar to Glover’s, however Yang is in much better form as his performance recently in Phoenix highlighted. Yang is reasonably long off the tee, is a great wind player and is based in Dallas Texas so feels comfortable in these environs. Interestingly tends to perform well on Rees Jones tracks and on courses in general where water and wind play a major factor.
Arizona based Australian’s appeal around here, just look at Ogilvy and Scott (based in Scottsdale when he won here in 07). Day has the length and current form to play well this week. 8th on his only prior visit in 2008 highlights what he can achieve.
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Long, but not straight! That won’t matter a jot round here. Romero has never been consistent but has the talent and the long range game to thrive around Redstone GC.
Why bloody not! Appleby’s favourite hunting ground and he showed glimpses last week of a semblance of form.
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 21:00BST 30.3.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.