The Shell Houston Open has 21 playoffs in its tournament history dating back to 1946, more than any event on the PGA TOUR except for the U.S. Open (32). Last year, Anthony Kim defeated Vaughn Taylor in sudden death, the third playoff in the last six years.
The par-4, 488-yard 18th hole at Redstone Golf Club’s Tournament Course ranked as the 20th-most difficult hole on the PGA TOUR in 2010, with the field averaging 4.317. In the five years the event has been contested on the Tournament Course, only one champion (Johnson Wagner/2007) has played the 18th hole under par for the week.
Steve Marino, who finished second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, sits 12th in the current FedExCup standings, highest among those players without a PGA TOUR victory in 2011.
Transitions Championship winner Gary Woodland will play in the Shell Houston Open Wednesday Pro-Am with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic from ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning show as part a Shell initiative to support the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Shell has auctioned off two Wednesday Pro-Am spots, with the winners (Lew and Pauline Peters of Lowell, MA) playing with Greenberg, Golic and Woodland. The auction was held on March 9and raised $43,750 ($18,750 from the auction and $25,000 donated from Shell). In three years, this program has contributed $139,750 to the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Mike & Mike will broadcast their show Wednesday morning live from the Shell Houston Open prior to playing in the Pro-Am.
Jose Maria Olazabal, who has been battling a re-occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis,will be making his first start of the year on the PGA TOUR at the Shell Houston Open. The 2012 European Ryder Cup Captain will play with 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III and 2011 Bob Hope Classic champion Jhonattan Vegasin the first two rounds.
Martin Laird’s final-round 75 in winning the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational was the highest finish by a winner on the PGA TOUR since Trevor Immelman won the 2008 Masters Tournament with a 3-over-par 75. It also marked the highest finish by a winner at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the previous high being 74 by Dave Eichelberger (1980) and Mike Nicolette (1983).
Jim Gallagher, Jr., who turned 50 on March 24, will make his Champions Tour debut at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic this week. Gallagher, who lives in Greenwood, MS, is a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR and was a member of the 1993 U.S. Ryder Cup team. He was also a member of the inaugural U.S. Presidents Cup team in 1994.
Mark Brooks will be making his Champions Tour debut at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. Brooks celebrated his 50th birthday on March 25. The Texas native owns seven PGA TOUR wins, including the 1996 PGA Championship where he birdied the 72nd hole at Valhalla GC in Louisville to force a playoff with Kenny Perry, then birdied the first extra hole to earn the title. Valhalla will host this year’s Senior PGA Championship on May 26-29.
Scott Hoch, an 11-time winner on the PGA TOUR and a three-time winner on the Champions Tour, will make his first appearance on the Champions Tour since the 2010 Allianz Championship where he withdrew prior to the start of the opening round. One week earlier, he was third at the ACE Group Classic, his lone event in 2010. Hoch was sidelined for much of the year with left-wrist problems and then suffered a broken collarbone in a bicycle accident later in the year which ended his season.
Fallen Oak, the venue for the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, was one of the most difficult layouts on the Champions Tour in 2010, ranking sixth among 26 sites where events were contested a year ago.
Four competitors at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic will be off to the Masters Tournament the following week: Larry Mize (1987 champion), Mark O’Meara(1998), Craig Stadler (1982) and Ian Woosnam (1991).
1992 Masters champion Fred Couples will be in the field at the Shell Houston Open on the PGA TOUR. Couples, who was a standout at the University of Houston, will make his 19th appearance in the tournament.
15– The number of former major championship winners from the PGA TOUR who are expected to compete in this year’s Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.
Tom Pernice, Jr. and Jeff Sluman come into the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic with a streak of 21 consecutive par/better rounds dating to last year.
The Nationwide Tour alumni milestone of 300 PGA TOUR wins was reached on Sunday when Martin Laird won the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. A total of 124 players have contributed to the 300 wins. The first 100 wins took 11 years, the last 100 only four years.
Arnold Palmer has agreed to return as Honorary Chairman for the second playing of his home state's only Nationwide Tour event, the Mylan Classic, scheduled to be played Sept. 1-4 at Southpointe GC, in the Pittsburgh, PA suburb of Canonsburg.
University of Floridasenior captain Andres Echavarria shot 67 on Sunday to finish 2nd in the Chitimacha Louisiana Open. While this makes him eligible for the Tour's next event (Fresh Express Classic) in California April 14-17, Echavarria will be with his Gator teammates competing in the SEC Championship at Sea Island, Ga. "We (UF coach Buddy Alexander) had a deal. I could come here (Louisiana), but I had to play conference."
Tiger Woods, who has played a number of rounds of golf with former Major League Baseball great John Smoltz, commented on his friend last week at Bay Hill: "Just the way he's able to take that (athletic) tenacity into golf is pretty amazing. I've gone out there and played with him and he shot, what, 69-67 in the same day. Not many amateurs can do that, especially when they are still playing a professional sport at the time. So it's pretty phenomenal."