By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Yes, the greens at Redstone Golf Club are firm and fast like players will find next week at Augusta National. The chipping areas are closely-mown, as well.
But that's not why the world No. 3, Lee Westwood, has flown from his home in Worksop, England to Texas to play in the Shell Houston Open. He is focused on this week's 72 holes and trying to hoist a trophy on Sunday, not playing his way into the Masters.
"I'm here to try to win this tournament, the Shell Houston Open," Westwood said. "It's all such a mental game. You have to be so mentally focused to do well that -- certainly for myself, I'm not smart enough to concentrate on two things at once so I have to concentrate on the thing at hand, which is trying to win this week."
So don't expect Westwood to be hitting shots on the Tournament Course this week just because he thinks he'll need them to play in the season's first major.
"I like to play each tournament and give it the respect it deserves and play each course on its merits, play a shot when it's necessary," the Englishman said.
Westwood has done well at Houston, too. He tied for eighth in 2010 and shared 11 th the previous year. In five starts he has never missed a cut and he's broken par in eight of his last 12 rounds at Redstone.
"This is a tournament I like to play," Westwood said. "That's why I'm back. It's a great golf course. I always thought if you play well, you got a chance to shoot low.
"If you don't, it penalizes you. Lot of water out there. It's testing shots. Greens are immaculate and around the greens is nice and tight and so natural run-off areas, better practice for next week.
"Coming from England and being based there, it's nice to come over for a couple of weeks and play a couple of tournaments on courses that are very similar."