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Last Chance for Many Golfers in Houston: A Fan’s View
There is just one more tournament before the Masters begins. The Shell Houston Open begins on Thursday, March 29, and is the last chance for golfers to establish momentum before the first major of the year. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are not here, but that doesn't mean this event should be overlooked. In fact, there are a good number of stars at the Shell Houston Open. Some of them have a lot to play for, while others are seeking confidence heading into Augusta.
Here is a look at some of the players at the Shell Houston Open:
Defending Masters champion Charl Schwartzel will play in the event. He is one of three golfers ranked in the world's top 10 to be playing at the event. Lee Westwood and Steve Stricker are also in the fold. Schwartzel has been solid so far in 2012, but he hasn't earned a win. I expect him to really contend here and get the confidence he needs to seek a second straight green jacket.
There are a number of other big stars that are looking for a title at the Shell Houston Open. Reigning champion Phil Mickelson is in the field and will be looking to get back on track after a sluggish performance at Bay Hill. Hunter Mahan will look to continue his great year with another win. He is definitely going to be a factor at the Masters as well. Coming off of a runner-up finish, Graeme McDowell has to be considered a contender. 2011 PGA Champion Keegan Bradley is also here. He has been remarkably consistent this year and should push for a title.
The most intriguing name in the field is Ernie Els. This is his last chance to earn a spot at Augusta. He has finished in the top five at each of the last two events but hasn't earned a win. That means that he has to win this event in order to avoid missing the Masters for the first time in nearly two decades. I expect Els to have a lot of fans pulling for him. Could he get the win? That would make for some great drama. In order to do it, he will have to outshine a field of former major winners, 2012 tournament winners, and young stars. Stranger things have happened in the world of golf.
* - Mark Paul is an avid golf fan. He has watched and played golf since high school.
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