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Houston Open - to play or not to play

Mickelson is one who does like to play ahead of a major (Photo: Getty Images)
It is always interesting to see the variety of preparations players use ahead of major championships and just how they believe is the most effective way to fine tune their respective games ahead of the most important events.

This week’s Houston Open is a case in point, especially given its now traditional role as a lead up to the opening major of men’s golf, The Masters, to be played next week.

But don’t count on a player winning this week’s Houston Open and then going on to win next week at Augusta National. After all, since 1988 - yes a stretch of 30 years – only two players have won the week before the Masters and then gone on to win the following week.

In 1988 Sandy Lyle won the Greater Greensboro Open before winning his second major at Augusta National and, in 2006, Phil Mickelson won the Bell South Classic near Atlanta and seven days later and just a couple of hours down the road, won his second Masters title when defeating Tim Clark by two.     

Certainly, the style of golf course used in the lead-up event has played a role in some of the decision making in determining a player’s schedule and that this week’s venue at the Redstone Golf Club where the Tournament Course has offered similarities to the set-up at Augusta National offers a greater incentive to play.

Phil Mickelson won at this venue in 2011 and has regularly played well at Redstone Golf Club and given his recent win in Mexico his chances this week and for a 4th Masters title are not remote.

Henrik Stenson has been twice a runner-up and once 3rd in this week’s event and his 4th place finish at Bay Hill two weeks ago suggests he is not far from where he needs to be and while his record at the Masters is not as good as his standing in the game suggests it should be another good week in Houston will no doubt help his cause next week.

Justin Rose has not been a regular at the event but last year recorded one of his best finishes and went on to so nearly win at Augusta National. Clearly, he was reminded just how beneficial a trip to Houston can be for his chances in the first major of the year.

The numbers suggest this week's winner is unlikely to win at Augusta National but don't look to anyone backing off down the stretch on Sunday in order they don't fall victim to these stats.





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