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      Power Rankings: Shell Houston Open

    • Dustin Johnson owns five top-10 finishes in five stroke-play events this season. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR) Dustin Johnson owns five top-10 finishes in five stroke-play events this season. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

    The Shell Houston Open has embraced its spot in the PGA TOUR calendar as the red carpet event for the season's first major. Tournament organizers of the SHO purposely set up the Golf Club of Houston as an preparatory ground for those headed to Augusta National.  

    The Rees Jones design is a traditional par 72 measuring 7,441 yards. Its scoring average of 71.868 marked its third consecutive year in red numbers (-0.132 strokes to par) despite some modifications, most notably on holes 16 and 18. The field registered a greens-in-regulation percentage of 70.13, which falls in line with recent history. However, in each of the four 25-yard ranges from 100-200 yards, Golf Club of Houston ranked inside the top-10 longest in proximity to the hole (also typical). It's a track that showcases a strong touch on and around greens.

    In 2013, Golf Club of Houston was 13th-most challenging in scrambling (55.54%) and extended its run to five years as the hardest track on the PGA TOUR in scrambling from the rough (40.85%). That fact in conjunction with collection areas around undulating putting surfaces place the premium on hitting greens on approach shots. The par 5s are strong as a set, checking in at 4.78 last year, good for a share of the 10th-hardest of the season.

    Defending champion D.A. Points ranked T10 in GIR, 10th in strokes gained-putting, fifth in scrambling and eighth in average distance of putts made (90 feet, 2 inches). He also led the field in par-4 scoring at 3.75.

    Rain and storms cannot be ruled out at any time during the tournament. In fact, there is an elevated risk for severe weather on Thursday when it may not hit 80 degrees, but it's expected to be the warmest day for play. As it often does in Texas, the wind will blow throughout.

    Power Rankings: Shell Houston Open

    Rank

    Player

    Comment

    1 Dustin Johnson Dustin Johnson

    Top 10s in all five stroke-play starts in 2013-14. T4 in last start at Doral. Leads TOUR in many stats. Shared fourth at Golf Club of Houston last year.

    Top 10s in all five stroke-play starts in 2013-14. T4 in last start at Doral. Leads TOUR in many stats. Shared fourth at Golf Club of Houston last year.

    2 Henrik Stenson Henrik Stenson

    Coming off a T5 at Bay Hill where he co-led field in fairways hit and hit the most GIR. T3 at Golf Club of Houston in 2009 and a T2 last year.

    Coming off a T5 at Bay Hill where he co-led field in fairways hit and hit the most GIR. T3 at Golf Club of Houston in 2009 and a T2 last year.

    3 Keegan Bradley Keegan Bradley

    Took the week off after a season-best solo second at Bay Hill. Placed T4 here in 2012 and T10 last year. Sixth in scrambling.

    Took the week off after a season-best solo second at Bay Hill. Placed T4 here in 2012 and T10 last year. Sixth in scrambling.

    4 Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy

    Ends a three-week break after a T25 at Doral. It ended a string of six top 10s in stroke-play events. P2 at The Honda the week prior.

    Ends a three-week break after a T25 at Doral. It ended a string of six top 10s in stroke-play events. P2 at The Honda the week prior.

    5 Jordan Spieth Jordan Spieth

    Reeled in a solo 10th at TPC San Antonio despite an opening 75. Four top 10s of 2013-14. Ranks 22nd in adjusted scoring.

    Reeled in a solo 10th at TPC San Antonio despite an opening 75. Four top 10s of 2013-14. Ranks 22nd in adjusted scoring.

    6 Graham DeLaet Graham DeLaet

    Perfect fit for Golf Club of Houston, where he tied for third in 2010. Surged for a T8 at Copperhead three weeks ago after a first-round 75.

    Perfect fit for Golf Club of Houston, where he tied for third in 2010. Surged for a T8 at Copperhead three weeks ago after a first-round 75.

    7 Sergio Garcia Sergio Garcia

    Hasn't played Golf Club of Houston since debut in 2009. Twelve consecutive top 20s. Would sit second in adjusted scoring if eligible for rankings.

    Hasn't played Golf Club of Houston since debut in 2009. Twelve consecutive top 20s. Would sit second in adjusted scoring if eligible for rankings.

    8 Matt Kuchar Matt Kuchar

    T4 at TPC San Antonio was his fifth top 10 of 2013-14; 17th in adjusted scoring. Placed T8 in his last two starts at Golf Club of Houston (2010, 2011).

    T4 at TPC San Antonio was his fifth top 10 of 2013-14; 17th in adjusted scoring. Placed T8 in his last two starts at Golf Club of Houston (2010, 2011).

    9 Bill Haas Bill Haas

    Top 25s in last four starts; T14 in his last at Copperhead. T10 at Golf Club of Houston last year. Ranks 21st in the all-around and 17th in scrambling.

    Top 25s in last four starts; T14 in his last at Copperhead. T10 at Golf Club of Houston last year. Ranks 21st in the all-around and 17th in scrambling.

    10 Luke Donald Luke Donald

    First appearance since 2010. T4 in last start at Copperhead. Would lead TOUR in strokes gained-putting if he logged enough rounds.

    First appearance since 2010. T4 in last start at Copperhead. Would lead TOUR in strokes gained-putting if he logged enough rounds.

    11 Hunter Mahan Hunter Mahan

    Return from a lower back injury. The 2012 champion here is third in all-time earnings. Three other top 10s and a T11 (2006).

    Return from a lower back injury. The 2012 champion here is third in all-time earnings. Three other top 10s and a T11 (2006).

    12 Jason Kokrak Jason Kokrak

    Settled for T31 at the Valero due to a third-round 77, but ranked ninth in total driving and GIR. Solo ninth at Golf Club of Houston last year.

    Settled for T31 at the Valero due to a third-round 77, but ranked ninth in total driving and GIR. Solo ninth at Golf Club of Houston last year.

    13 Charley Hoffman Charley Hoffman

    He's 7-for-7 at Golf Club of Houston with one top 10 and another three top 25s. Three top 10s and another four top 25s this season. T11 at Valero.

    He's 7-for-7 at Golf Club of Houston with one top 10 and another three top 25s. Three top 10s and another four top 25s this season. T11 at Valero.

    14 Freddie Jacobson Freddie Jacobson

    Top 20s in his last four starts -- six on the season -- but over par in each of those final rounds. Seventh in strokes gained-putting.

    Top 20s in his last four starts -- six on the season -- but over par in each of those final rounds. Seventh in strokes gained-putting.

    15 Charles Howell III Charles Howell III

    Top 20s in his last two starts at Golf Club of Houston, including a T10 last year. Five top 10s this season. Seventh in GIR; sixth in adjusted scoring.

    Top 20s in his last two starts at Golf Club of Houston, including a T10 last year. Five top 10s this season. Seventh in GIR; sixth in adjusted scoring.

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