Spieth hunts for form at Houston Open
With his rivals hitting their stride in time for the Masters, Champion Golfer Jordan Spieth is waiting for his game to hit top gear and the Houston Open could be the stage for his 2018 emergence.
The current Champion Golfer of the Year endured another frustrating week at the WGC-Dell Match Play as he was knocked out in the group stages, before warning he may not be ready for the Masters next week.
But the Spieth who stormed to victory and lifted the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale last July has an incredible record at Augusta. The 24-year-old often sparkles at this time of year: in 2014, he led during the final round before finishing second, won the Masters a year later and was tied for second in 2016.
The Houston Open is the beginning of a strong part of the season for Spieth, and he has enjoyed some promising results at The Golf Club of Houston which suggests he likes the course lay-out. He was tied second here in 2016 before making a strong Masters charge and as a Texas native, the three-time major winner will be doubly motivated to succeed this week.
Mickelson’s eyes second 2018 title
Some courses seem tailor-made for certain golfers and Phil Mickelson will be full of optimism as he heads to Houston. The course closely resembles Augusta, placing emphasis on the short game. So step forward 2013 Champion golfer of the year, back to winning ways after victory at the WGC Mexico Championship.
Last chance saloon
The Houston Open provides one final opportunity for one player to qualify for the year’s first major. A strong list of names set to miss out on Augusta next week is led by two-time Champion Golfer of the Year Ernie Els. The South African needs a win in Houston to stand any chance of qualifying but he's not alone. Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker, Ian Poulter and Shane Lowry are also looking to take that final place.
It is just seven months since Hurricane Harvey left a trail of destruction across Texas and the ground staff at The Golf Club of Houston deserve huge credit for getting this tournament on. The course, which sits close to the Gulf of Mexico, was in Harvey’s firing line and suffered flooding on an unprecedented scale.
“One thing we do is that greens and tees are built up out of the 100-year floodplain to protect them. But this is not a 100-year event. It’s more like a 500-year event,” said Houston Golf Association president Steve Timms.