The PGA Tour returns to US soil this week for the final Masters tune-up, as the Houston Open welcomes the circuit’s first fans since the cancelled Players Championship. Here is all you need to know, including details of the host course designed by Tom Doak with help from Brooks Koepka.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: American Lanto Griffin held off his fellow Korn Ferry Tour graduates Scott Harrington and Mark Hubbard in 2019. Griffin holed a par putt at the Golf Club of Houston’s 18th hole to claim his maiden PGA Tour title by a shot.
COURSE: Memorial Park Golf Course welcomes the PGA Tour for the first time since 1963 this week, having undergone a significant renovation by renowned architect Doak, with influence from Brooks Koepka in what is his first foray into course design.
One of the most popular municipal courses in Houston, Memorial Park will measure 7,021 yards this week and play to a par of 71, showcasing the renovation work that saw both lengthening and shortening of holes, as well as the removal of trees, elevation increases and fairway widening.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
Brooks Koepka makes just his second start of the new PGA Tour season, but despite little form to go off since making his return from more injury trouble, the former World No.1 is certainly worth keeping an eye on this week.
Koepka will obviously have a slight leg up on the rest of the field as they attempt to get acclimatised to a venue none will have played in tournament conditions, due to his involvement in the design. However, The Masters being just around the corner is the primary reason he will be one to watch this week.
The four-time major winner peaks for the game’s biggest events and after a final round misfire at the US PGA and withdrawal from the US Open, he will be looking to show signs he is ready to compete at Augusta National again, having been right in the mix during Sunday’s back nine in 2019.
RIGHT: Lanto Griffin claimed his first PGA Tour win at the Houston Open in 2019. PHOTO: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.
Adam Scott returns to the PGA Tour following a positive test for COVID-19 just a few weeks ago as he attempted to make his first start since September’s US Open.
Scott is a past winner of this event, with four career wins in the state of Texas, and like many others will be hoping to assess his game before he drives down Magnolia Lane next week.
Scott has shown patches of good form in the just four starts he has made since the Tour returned to action, but as a perennial Masters contender, one would expect the Queenslander’s game to be sharp this week.
World No.1 Dustin Johnson also makes his first start following a positive coronavirus test, whether his outstanding form of last season and the US Open has survived the longer than planned lay-off being the main point of interest this week.
Johnson is on a run of six straight events finishing T12 or better – that includes two wins and two major top-10s – and will likely use this week to knock some competitive rust off his game before The Masters, where he looks a bigger chance to win the green jacket with each passing year.
72-HOLE RECORD: Curtis Strange and Lee Trevino both took 266 shots in regulation in 1980 before Strange won in a playoff, with Vijay Singh equalling the record in 2002 when he set the record in relation to par of 22 under.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Matt Jones (2014), Adam Scott (2007), Stuart Appleby (2006 & 1999), Robert Allenby (2000), David Graham (1983), Bruce Crampton (1975 & 1973) and Bruce Devlin (1972).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Greg Chalmers, Cameron Davis, Jason Day, Matt Jones and Adam Scott.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 8am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 8am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 8am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 8am)
*AEDT, check local guides