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Top 3 Storylines Heading into Shell Houston Open: A Fan’s Take

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Shell Houston Open will be played from March 29 - April 1 at Redstone Golf Club, a par 72 course that measures out to nearly 7,500 yards. While many of the top players in the world are not playing in this event due to the Masters occurring next week, there are still some that are looking to fine tune their games and even try to qualify for the event. What follows are my top 3 storylines heading into the Shell Houston Open.

Will Phil Mickelson get his game back together in time for the Masters?

After his win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and top-5 finish at the Northern Trust Open the following week, Phil Mickelson hasn't played that well, with his last two events being a T43 and T24 finish. While those finishes aren't so bad, what is bad is that he did not break 71 in either of those two events. A quick look at his stats shows some areas of concern as well, with him ranking 158th on Tour in driving accuracy and 107th in greens in regulation. This is strange, because for the latter part of 2011 and into 2012 his main problem was the putter, but now that is his strength. He probably spent too much time fixing that area and neglected his long game, and it shows. Nonetheless, Phil needs to gain some confidence heading into the Masters, and this event provides a good opportunity for him to do so.

Will Ernie Els even qualify for the Masters?

I find it surprising that Ernie Els hasn't gotten an invite into the Masters yet, as he has played in that event for nearly two straight decades and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. He has meant a lot to the game of golf, and at the very least the event organizers should just let him in instead of having to play so much. If they don't invite him, his only alternative to get in is to win this week's event, so he will definitely be the player to watch more than anyone else this week.

Can Keegan Bradley continue his dominance this year with a win at the Shell Houston Open?

Bradley has been flying under the radar for much of the 2012 PGA Tour season, and will most likely be a sleeper pick to win the Masters in April. In eight events thus far Keegan has eight top-25 finishes, with his worst finish being a T22 at the Farmers Insurance Open; if that isn't a mark of consistency I don't know what is. I don't see why he would not be the favorite to win this week's event given what he has done thus far, and a win would certainly solidify him as one of the top 5 golfers in the world in my opinion.

Ryan Kekoufski is a scratch golfer who has both played and watched the sport for well over a decade, and he currently runs The Yips Blog, a blog dedicated solely to the game of golf. He also covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and currently resides in Virginia.

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