Shell Houston Open – Fantasy Golfanac

Course Details

Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas
7,441 yards – Par 72
Bermuda greens heavily overseeded with bent/rye (plays more like Bentgrass)

Course Architect: Rees Jones (2005)

Tournament Stimpmeter: 12 to 13 feet … Fast Greens
Green Sizes: 6,950 sq. feet … Slightly Larger Green Sizes
Strength of Field Rating: ~375 … Stronger than Average Field
Fairways Hit (Field Average): 63% … Average Fairways
Greens in Regulation (Field Average): 70% … Easy-to-Hit Greens
Driving Distance (Field Average): 282 yards …. Average Driving Distance

Tournament Angles

#1 Long Courses
#2 Bentgrass Greens
#3 Windy Rounds
#4 Texas Courses
#5 Par 72 Courses

#6 Fast Greens
#7 Easy-to-Hit Greens

Previous Winners

2016: Jim Herman -15 over Henrik Stenson -14
2015: J.B. Holmes over Jordan Spieth, Johnson Wagner in a playoff
2014: Matt Jones -15 over Matt Kuchar in a playoff
2013: D.A. Points -16 over Billy Horschel, Henrik Stenson -15
2012: Hunter Mahan -16 over Carl Pettersson -15
2011: Phil Mickelson -20 over Chris Kirk, Scott Verplank -17
2010: Anthony kim -12 over Vaughn Taylor in a playoff

54-Hole Leaders

2016: Jim Herman, Jamie Lovemark -11
2015: Jordan Spieth -14
2014: Matt Kuchar -15
2013: Stewart Cink, Bill Haas -11
2012: Louis Oosthuizen -17
2011: Phil Mickelson, Scott Verplank -13
2010: Anthony Kim, Bryce Molder -10

36-Hole Leaders

2016: Charley Hoffman -10
2015: Andrew Putnam -12
2014: Sergio Garcia -12
2013: Steve Wheatcroft -10
2012: Jeff Maggert -12
2011: Chris Kirk -9
2010: Bryce Molder -9

Important Interview Quotes

Q. What is it about this place that allows you to kind of come to life despite struggling? Last year you were struggling coming in, this year you’re struggling coming in.
JOHNSON WAGNER:
I putt really well around the greens. I see them really nice. I think just the tee shot, the lines off of tees, with the exception of yesterday really fit my eye. I hit a draw, right to left shot. And I think this golf course favors that. I don’t know. I just — I don’t think it would — I hope the tournament never moves golf courses, but I don’t think it would really matter. I just have a love affair with this event and with Houston and the Houston Golf Association. Hopefully if the tournament ever does move, I would play well wherever in Houston. It’s more the city, I just love being here. -2016

Q. How windy is it out on the course?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN:
It’s pretty windy. It’s not unplayable. Obviously there’s been wind stoppage out here before. It’s not that level. The greens are receptive and you’ll see some guys shoot some fairly good scores I think out there today. -2016

Q. Jordan, how does the length and set-up of this course help you prepare for Augusta?
JORDAN SPIETH:
You know, the grass type, the shots you’re hitting off the fairways are very similar. Lot of kind of slightly into the grain, overseeded-type grass. Just feels similar when you set the club behind the ball. Bigger holes, bigger doglegs. Here it forces you actually to play away obviously from the water, but the greens aren’t as severe when you miss a shot. So, into the greens this hole can be — or this course, I’m sorry, can be very challenging because almost every single hole you got to avoid one side or the other, which kind of prepares you for the Masters. Not that there’s water, a lot of water at Augusta, but one side is normally dead. So, very much have to commit to a certain target out here. -2016

Q. Another good one out here today, Jamie. How different was this, how different did this golf course play compared to Thursday?
JAMIE LOVEMARK:
Yeah, crazy different. 20 degrees colder, blowing 18, 20 miles an hour. Tees are up. Wind was up. So, yeah, it was different. Lot more challenging. Yesterday the ball was traveling forever. Not an amount of breath of wind. I think we got the best draw, the early/late. -2016, R2

Q. You were over at Augusta the last few days. I know that one part of you I’m sure is looking a little bit ahead. You’re a former winner here. What is it about this golf course that you like that gets you ready for next week?
PHIL MICKELSON:
I actually think that it’s more just about getting in a competitive frame of mind. I like the way the course is set up. The fairways and the just off the fairway, the first cut is similar to Augusta. But the greens are different grasses. They don’t have as much contour. You can’t hit drivers. You’re handcuffed on every tee box. Everything pinches in at 300. Augusta, you’re trying to lead on every hole. There’s some areas where it’s not really beneficial, but I’m just here to try to get sharp. I want my game being sharp. I enjoy the tournament. I think it’s a fabulous event. The condition of this golf course, I’m always amazed at how well the condition is, it’s one of the best we have on Tour, year-in, year-out. Given it’s a public course makes it even more impressive, I believe. -2016

Q. The style of play?
PHIL MICKELSON:
The style of play here is totally different than Augusta. The rope is at 300 yards or so off the tee, everything pitches in here and every tee shot has a hazard in play. I’ve been in every single hazard on this golf course over the years. I know exactly where they are. To play this course effectively, you got to hit a lot of 3-woods, play more defensive. At Augusta, though, you have to step on the driver, and so I hit a lot more drivers here this week than I would if I were really focused on trying to win this week. I’m more focused about hitting shots for next week. I tried some cut drivers like on 13, I hit a couple of good ones, hit some bad ones, but I needed to get that work in on a competitive environment. I love playing the week before because you get competitive, but I didn’t make — I didn’t make the smartest play. My course management for this course isn’t going to be great. The shots that I was playing this week are going to set up a lot better next week. -2016

Q. Did you hit driver here a lot with the rough being so low?
JAMIE LOVEMARK:
Definitely. Super aggressive. Probably a little too aggressive. I would love to hit driver on every hole. Couple shots I don’t. I might hit 11, 12 drivers around, just hit it hard and find it to hit it again. No rough. Perfect conditions. Be aggressive. -2016

Q. What’s the comfort level with this course? I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to play it very much.
K.J. CHOI:
So, compared to six years ago when I played here last, to my knowledge, my iron game is significantly better and the point of emphasis for the week is the tee shots because obviously the water hazards out there and so having a better golf game just makes me feel more comfortable with the course.
Course knowledge-wise I haven’t been here in awhile. I’m playing better and that’s going to make me more comfortable with the course. I played a practice round today and I felt very comfortable and, like I said before, this area, Houston area being, you know, kind of like my home town, I just feel comfortable overall. -2015

Q. Going back to your junior days, how much success did you have in Houston and you played here quite a bit?
JORDAN SPIETH:
I played a junior tournament here when it was Redstone. I want to say, shoot, that must have been almost six, seven years ago. Now I think I got 7th. I wasn’t long enough to reach 17 and 18 in 2. I had driver and 3-wood, had to hit a wedge into the breeze. Very different golf course from back then. But we also came here at the University of Texas and played a couple qualify years out here.
I’m familiar with this place. I played here about as much as I played anywhere on Tour. No excuses for not knowing my way around this tract. -2015

Q. Patrick, how many times have you played this course, what’s your history with this course?
PATRICK REED:
I played three, nine hole rounds last week, nine holes each day for three days. Before that, the last time I played was the Friday of the tournament two years ago. Houston is huge. I don’t make it over here very often. I mainly stay and practice out of my home course since my swing coach is there. I don’t really play here very often. The good thing, it seems to fit my eye pretty well and it’s always nice to sleep in your own bed. -2015

Q. You’ve been talking about how you see a course, how you visualize a course. You haven’t had a lot of experience here. Can you talk how this course sets up for you?
PATRICK REED:
Sets up good. Lot of the holes I can send it out there to the right and hit my draw. The one hole that didn’t really fit my eye very well was 18. Both times I tried the play my draw, it didn’t draw, ended up in the trap. I’ll start it in the water and start it back in the fairway. Hit a pitching wedge in the greens. Besides 18, seems like everything kind of fits my eye, I know exactly what I’m trying to do, what kind of shot. Hopefully I can get that confidence going with the driver going into next week. -2015

Q. What are the type of grasses you’re accustomed to play on?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI:
We play predominantly on bermuda. It’s tropical, hot weather grasses. The only time I do play in bent is when we go to Japan or Korea because it’s a lot colder up there. We hardly ever play on rye. And even though I am playing in Europe, I’ve predominantly played in Asia, so in Europe you probably get more courses, especially in the UK, where you’d be playing on rye. But that’s not something that I’m used to. Last year I played at valhalla, like I mentioned, which had a lot of bluegrass, which I’ve never seen before in my life. Played one event as an amateur in South Africa, where I played on kikuku. So these are all grasses that are alien to me. It’s something I’m going to; have to get used to. -2015

Q. Impressions of the course based on how you played last year and thoughts looking at it again?
RICKIE FOWLER:
It suits my eye. I like the look of it. It’s in great shape. As far as condition goes, they do a very good job of creating a place condition-wise that gets us on similar playing surfaces for next week. -2015

Q. Does the course set up well for you? You played here twice before, played okay, didn’t do anything.
SCOTT PIERCY:
I think I like this wind better. Usually a lot of times the wind is out of the north. I think that’s a little harder for me because this golf course generally plays right to left and I like to hit a little cut, where the wind today was more out of the south, maybe to the southeast just a hair, and I think some of those holes that really go right to left, I had the wind helping me right to left.
For me, I think it was — you know, it makes me feel more comfortable with this wind. -2015

Q. What was working for you the best out there today?
MATT KUCHAR:
Hard to say. Just steady round of golf. Out here, even if you miss a few drives, for the most part you can be pretty playable. You got to avoid a handful of hazards or tough driving holes. 18 is one of those. But, if you miss it in this kind of rough, you can generally play out of it. -2015

Q. What do you like about this golf course and how it suits your game?
J.B. HOLMES:
You know, it’s a good preview for the Masters. They don’t have as much rough around here. Few holes you can get loose with the driver and it benefits you to hit it farther at this golf course because the wind can get up and it can get difficult. I think just a fun golf course. Always in great condition. Always — it’s nice when you can hit a putt and know what it’s going to do, and if you miss the putt, it’s because you misread it or something, not because of the greens. It’s always nice to come here. -2015

Q. Talk about your comfort level on this golf course.
SHAWN STEFANI:
Yeah, I’ve got a little comfort here. I played a lot of golf here. In my off-season I come out here and practice a lot and get a lot of work done. You know, obviously coming off last year, it was nice to get off to — it was nice to play well here last year. So, you know, just to come back here and to play and have my friends and family, which is great because lot of positive energy out there, always nice to come back to Houston and play here. -2015

Q. We hear a lot about how this golf course somewhat mirrors Augusta National. How do you find what you’re going to see here versus what you’re going to see at Augusta.
JUSTIN ROSE:
They do a great job of the conditioning of it. They mow the fairways towards us likes they do at Augusta. Chipping around the greens feels very similar. The greens are a lot flatter here. You have slope in sections, but you have to put the pin is relatively flat. That’s the only subtle change. No rough here. That’s why you’ll see good scoring. The greens are a little softer and slower than maybe they would like. By the time we get to the weekend, I’m sure they’re going to show their teeth. -2015

Q. The course sets up really good?
JOHNSON WAGNER:
The course sets up great for me. I love the greens and tee shots. I know it really well. Kind of like a home course for me. -2015

Q. Only like 265 to carry the trap. Playing really, really long?
SCOTT PIERCY:
The wind here is so heavy since we’re at sea level. If it’s blowing 10 miles an hour, it plays probably close to 20 yards worth of, you know, of distance, where when you get downwind, if you have 10 miles into the wind downwind, it’s probably about 5 miles or 5 yards difference. It plays a big difference into the wind versus otherwise. -2015

Q. Can you elaborate on why it fits you so well?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:
It’s a big golf course. All the par-5s are reachable for the most part for the longer players. Shorter players can’t really get to these par-5s. Lot of drivers, big greens. Good ball striker out here is going to make some stuff happen. -2014

Q. What do you like about this course?
J.B. HOLMES:
You know, it’s always well manicured. It’s not a whole lot of rough. That’s different for the Tour. Usually we have quite a bit of rough. But, you know, this course usually gets pretty windy. It’s nice to be able — you hit it in a few places and still be able to come out. The greens are in great shape. I just like it. -2014

Q. Would you say the course favors long hitters like yourself?
J.B. HOLMES:
I think this course in general can favor long hitters. It’s pretty long out there, it gets windy, and some of those holes could be difficult. I would say it would favor the long hitters. -2014

Question unrelated…
ERIK COMPTON:
So, I drove the ball pretty bad today, but this course is a very much dominant right-to-left course, and I’m playing the other way with left to right. -2014

Q. Sergio, you’ve always been a particularly good wind player. When, you know, the conditions a lot like yesterday, do you relish the chance to challenge yourself and how good was the 65? Your position?
SERGIO GARCIA:
It was really good. Like you said, I do like playing in the wind. Obviously not hurricane (laughter), but I do enjoy playing in the wind. Like I’d rather play in the wind than in the rain. I don’t know what was the reason. I don’t know if it’s because playing in the UK, playing in Scotland and England and how windy it can get there and how creative you have to be when it gets windy. -2014

All quotes from ASAPsports.com unless otherwise noted.

Tournament Notes:

In an effort to get as many top players as possible, they prepped the Golf Club of Houston like Augusta National. That meant using a combination of rye/bentgrass to overseed the greens and heavily overseeding the fairways and tees with rye, essentially turning Golf Club of Houston into a winter golf course. –TravelGolf

The public, Reese Jones designed Tournament Course, consists of Mini Verde greens with TifSport tees, fairways, and roughs. Every year, The Tournament Course plays hosts the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open the week before the masters. Every fall it is over-seeded with Perennial Ryegrass on tees, fairways and roughs while greens are seeded with a blend of Bentgrass and Poa Trivialis. Our Agronomy team strives to produce “Masters Quality conditions” for the PGA and the players as a warm-up for Augusta. – TexasTurf.com

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