Shell Houston Open: First Look

Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

As the Florida Swing concludes the PGA Tour moves to Texas this week for the Shell Houston Open. This is last chance many of the tour pros will get prepare for the Masters in a real, meaningful tournament. As such, the PGA and the staff of Redstone Golf Club will do their best to recreate the conditions the golfers will see at Augusta National. Shaved banks, collection areas and fast, slippery greens will get the pros ready for what they are likely to see when the tee it up at Augusta.

Rory McIlroy is making his first trip to Redstone since 2010, in a last ditch attempt to get some positive momentum going before the Masters. He will be looking to build off of his final round 65 at Doral during the WGC Cadillac Championship. The Ulsterman is in desperate need of a few good rounds this week to get his confidence back heading to Augusta.

Defending champion Hunter Mahan joins McIlroy in the group of 11 of the top 25 golfers in the world that will be vying for the title and the 500 FedEx Cup points that go along with it. Brandt Snedeker penciled himself into the field this week, making his second consecutive start after coming back from a rib injury that kept him sidelined for several weeks. It’s going to be important for him to use this week to shake off any remaining rust that may be lingering from his hiatus.

This field isn’t only important for the top golfers in the world to get ready for the Masters, but it’s also the last chance for those on the bubble to qualify for the Masters by way of their raking inside of the top 50 in the world. Charles Howell III (ranked 57th) and Henrik Stenson (ranked 58th) have outside chances of moving into the top 50 with good showings this week.

With so many of the best golfers in the world in the field this week, and knowing that this is their last chance to prepare for the first major of the year, there is no doubt in my mind that this is going to be an exciting event. Hopefully it will be one that goes down the wire.

Carl Conrad is the Senior Golf Writer for Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.