The first way is to outplay all of the other competitors by shooting a great round of golf, and the other is to simply survive the day by playing solid golf. It was the latter way in which Mahan won the 2012 Shell Houston Open, shooting a final round 71 as everyone else around him had lackluster days.
Louis Oosthuizen came into the final day with a two stroke lead over Mahan, and I thought Mahan would have needed to go low on Sunday in order to surpass Louis for the title, given his solid play over the first three days (67-66-66). However, right out of the gate it didn't seem as though Oosthuizen was very comfortable, especially after the bogey he had on the second hole.
He was able to follow it up with a birdie on the third hole, but after that his final round pretty much collapsed, going six over par over the next seven holes. Louis did stage a semi-comeback on the back nine with three birdies, but by then it was all over for him, as he shot a final round 75 to finish in third place. All great golfers have bad days out on the course, and unfortunately for Oosthuizen it happened on a Sunday. The only other person who had a chance of catching Mahan was Carl Pettersson, but after birdies on the first and fourth holes he just couldn't get any putts to fall in, shooting a 71 to finish one shot behind Hunter.
Aside from Mahan, one of the players that impressed me the most coming out of the tournament was Keegan Bradley, who finished tied for fourth and had a wild day on Sunday that included five birdies and four bogeys on the scorecard. In nine events thus far in the PGA Tour season, Bradley has nine top-25 finishes, which is amazing to say the least. The only real deficiency in his game to this point has been accuracy with the driver (98th on Tour), with another minor one being his putting from time to time. Along with Mahan I think he will certainly be a player to watch at next week's event.
One of the players that we won't be watching, though, is Ernie Els, who needed to win the Shell Houston Open but finished in a tie for twelfth. He certainly had a chance of getting into the Masters (especially at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he shot a final round 75 and finished T4), but his putter kept letting him down, especially from short distances. Aside from his putter, Els has played some great golf on the PGA Tour this season, with five top-25 finishes in seven starts. If Ernie can somehow get the putter going again he could certainly be in contention to win a Tour event or even a major if he plays solidly enough.
Ryan Kekoufski is a scratch golfer who has both played and watched the sport for well over a decade. He covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and currently resides in Virginia.
- Sports & Recreation
- Hunter Mahan
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Shell Houston Open