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Catch Me ifyoucan
08 Oct 19 21:22
Date Joined: 09 Sep 03
| Topic/replies: 9,556 | Blogger: Catch Me ifyoucan's blog
Houston's last stand? Long-standing event in danger.....By Will Gray March 28, 2018

HUMBLE, Texas – The fountain that once floated in the middle of the lake lining the 18th hole at the Golf Club of Houston is gone. So, too, is the floral arrangement that was annually propped behind the final tee, a mix of reds and yellows arranged in the shape of a seashell that served as the backdrop for some of the tournament’s most pressure-packed moments.

The Houston Open is back on the schedule this week, nearly 22 months after Shell Oil Company told the Houston Golf Association that they would be ending a 26-year run as title sponsor.
Last year’s lame-duck edition was seen as a bittersweet send-off for a faithful corporate partner, with one eye on the new chapter that lay ahead.
But a year later, there is no flashy sponsor art to plant behind the 18th tee. Instead that spot sits empty, while the ring of grandstands and skyboxes along the final hole features plain white tents with navy blue trim and no longer reaches all the way around the green.
The revamped logo simply says “Houston Open” in bold white font, adding only an “Est. 1946” note below the name as the tournament relies on its strongest remaining asset – its legacy – in the hopes that the 71st Houston Open is not the last.

Staging a top-tier PGA Tour event without the benefit of a title sponsor is no enviable task, and it’s not a position tournament director Steve Timms ever expected to find himself.
“I’m surprised,” Timms said. “If you’d have told me when Shell let us know in the summer of 2016 that by the 2018 tournament we would not have a new title, I probably would have made a small wager that we would.”
Timms’ optimism at the time was certainly warranted given his event’s location and history. Houston is the fourth-largest city in the U.S., and home to headquarters for 25 different Fortune 500 companies. Certainly, it seemed, getting one of them to foot the bill for a tournament that started with Byron Nelson defeating Ben Hogan 72 years ago would be more than feasible.
That optimism remained bright following last year’s event, but no one could have foreseen what would roll into town a few short months later.

Hurricane Harvey devastated the greater Houston area in late August, putting the tournament course under several feet of water. It brought business in town, both present and future, to a grinding halt as the priorities of millions of residents shifted overnight.
It’s been a slow rebuilding process. Timms shared that some local companies didn’t return to their office buildings until February. There’s never a good time for a natural disaster, but as it related to his efforts to land a new title, the timing of Harvey was especially inopportune.
“It certainly, and understandably, captured the attention of our business community,” Timms said. “Anytime you have that kind of a natural disaster, a lot of things become secondary, if you will. So it took a lot of momentum out of the market that we’ve just had to rekindle.”
Timms declined to share financing specifics for staging this year’s event, except to say that the HGA dipped into its “cash reserves” to make good on a promise that the city of Houston would have a golf tournament to look forward to this spring.

They’re also not alone in the world of un-sponsored PGA Tour events, as the Fort Worth Invitational and The National both currently seek new titles. But the former split their bill among four presenting sponsors at a reported $2 million apiece for 2018, while the latter enjoys the backing of Tiger Woods’ TGR Foundation as it seeks a permanent home.

It all adds up to a murky situation for Houston which, despite its storied history, could be at risk of extinction as the Tour looks to overhaul its schedule for the 2018-19 season.
“I would hate to see it,” said Rickie Fowler. “Texas gets a handful of tournaments, but Houston is pretty rich in golf history. And especially coming off of last year with Harvey, and the devastation here, I think there’s a lot of good that we can do and continue to do in helping out. So hopefully it doesn’t go away.”

Complicating matters further is the fact that three hours down the road, in San Antonio, the sponsorship situation is among the best on Tour. In October, the Valero Texas Open announced a 10-year renewal with its own title sponsor from the oil & gas sector, which brought with it the added twist that in 2019 it will be Valero – not the Houston event – that will be held the week before the Masters.
It’s a spot on the calendar that didn’t seem especially desirable when Timms’ team took it over in 2007, but in the subsequent decade it’s transformed into a significant recruiting tool. The HGA prides itself on making its venue as conducive to Masters prep as possible and enjoyed a spike in field strength as a result.
Now the reality is that as the search for a new sponsor drags into its third year, the tournament will have lost one of its most marketable assets for 2019.

“It’s a shame if it does go away. There’s a long history there,” said 2015 champ J.B. Holmes. “A lot of the players went to Houston because it was set up a lot like Augusta. So maybe they’ll give that spot back to them, but I think they’ll be surprised with the people who normally play (the week before the Masters) that won’t play that one (Valero).”
The fight continues for Timms, who has had “meaningful discussions” with potential sponsors in recent months and hopes to showcase his event in front of a national audience this week. He remains confident that the tournament will enjoy both a new date and a new title next year, as one of the Tour’s longest-running events continues a prolonged effort to find its footing.

Ask Houston resident Chris Stroud, who watched his community struggle through Harvey and emerge strong on the other side, and the tournament’s future seems hardly in doubt.
“One hundred percent confident we’ll find somebody. 100 percent,” Stroud said. “With the combination of Steve Timms, the HGA, Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour and the power of Houston, I’m 100 percent confident we’re going to have somebody in place next year. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

STILL NO SPONSOR for the 72nd edition! Devil
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Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 8, 2019 9:26 PM BST
HOUSTON OPEN’s last stand?

THE TOUR returns to the Golf Club of Houston for one last time - par 72 over 7400 yds - Champions Course Designed by Rees Jones 2005 - the host club since 2003.
The event moves to Memorial Park next year where it was played 14 times previously, but not since 1963.

This tournament began in 1946, when some young guy named Byron Nelson picked up the winner’s trophy, with runner up being a Mr Ben Hogan.

The host club since 2006 is The Golf Club of Houston (formerly Redstone GC), a long par-72 over 7,440yds, will favour players who hit a lot of GIR and get their putter working for SGP. The four par 5s are all over 550 yards, and two of the four par 3s top 216 yards. Three of the par 4s top 480 yards but the 12th is only 338yds.
A winning score of 272 (-16) has been popular, so birdie fest players are also the order of the day.

This event moves to its new October date, and in years prior to that it was the known as the SHELL Houston Open (since 1992), as part of a new five-year agreement after struggling in recent years to find footing with a title sponsor.

The strength of field is also affected (P1SS POOR you could say) as Golfers are no longer using this as their usual lead-up to the Masters (expect slower greens too).
Also its without the defending champ Ian Poulter (beat Hossler in playoff) who plays in the Italian Open instead - a Rolex Series event ($7 million versus the $7.5 million in Houston) and offering qualification points toward making the 2020 Ryder Cup team – which makes sense when you also consider it was also the site of Poulter's first career Euro Tour win back in 2000, and he also won it in 2002 - the last time that Olgiata Golf Club, this year's venue, hosted the event.

No shows from Spieth, Rose (in Rome), Kuch, Phil or Fowler this year either. 144 golfers compete here while only the top 65 and ties will play the weekend. Hossler returns to Houston in an effort to finish one spot better in a field that will feature Henrik Stenson & Keegan Bradley as the only OWGR T50 as well as recent Tour winners Cameron Champ and Sebastian Munoz. A 2-year TOUR Exemption and invite to The Masters is still up for grabs !
Add Cole Hammer who plays on a sponsor exemption – “It’s always been a dream of mine to play in my hometown PGA TOUR event”.

Steve’s Scoring Averages – (with a min of 2 events played) – 1. Henley 68.08 (6 played); 2. Hossler 69.25 (2); 3. Berger 69.31 (4); 4. Cauley 69.86 (4); 5. Stenson 69.96 (7); 6. Armour 70.03 (3); 7. List 70.14 (4); 8. Campos 70.25 (2); 9. Bradley 70.33 (8); 10. DeLaet 70.50 (6).

Wind is usually an issue in Texas but October weather may be different with little wind in the current forecast.

The Shell Houston Open has gone to a playoff 24 times in 71 editions, a rate of nearly one in three. Only the U.S. Open has more playoffs on the books (33).
A 6 HOUR time difference in The Lone Star State this week so late for pub hours? with a playoff also a very likely outcome. Another large G&T please !

Smith & Wesson’s in the holsters...Come out all guns blazing Mr SCHEFFLER !
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 8, 2019 10:45 PM BST
#1 Scottie Scheffler 2019 Strokes Gained Rank: 1 Age:23
The comparisons to Jordan Spieth were easy to make early in his journey as Scheffler tried his hand at two PGA TOUR events back in 2014. Both came from Dallas, committed to the University of Texas, and both gave it a shot on the PGA TOUR as teenagers. What's impressive is that Scheffler actually finished T22 at the 2014 Byron Nelson. Scheffler also won three straight Texas individual titles in high school. Who is the only other Texan to accomplish that feat? You guessed, it. Jordan Spieth. When you take location and school out of the equation, the differences start to stand out. Scheffler stands 6'3" at is also listed at 200 pounds. Unlike Spieth, the driver is a key weapon for Scheffler. Just looking at his last five starts on the PGA TOUR, Scheffler has hit more fairways than the field in all five of those starts and also hit it longer than the field average in all five. On top of being a total-driving machine, he also finished this season ranked top 15 in putting average and 1st in birdies per round. All that yielded a win and two runner-up finished then he went ahead and won the first event of the KFT Finals, as well. Scheffler is going to be a star and gamers should expect at least a few podium finishes this season on the big stage. Devil
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 9, 2019 11:35 AM BST
Local magnate and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane has been working behind the scenes to make sure this tournament didn't fold. He, along with several Houston officials, approached the PGA Tour with a plan to take over the event from the HGA. On June 12, Crane and the tour reached an agreement to keep the tournament in Houston through 2023.

"Our team is committed to the continued growth of the Houston Open and making a positive impact in the city of Houston,” Crane said that June. “The funds raised through this tournament will allow us to continue our commitment to serving the people within our county and city and help improve our parks.”

A newly-created entity, the Astros Golf Foundation, was charged with running the event—which would be moved to the fall portion of the tour schedule—and the tournament would return to the Golf Club of Houston. A return that would be a one-year visit; Crane's foundation hired architect Tom Doak to spearhead a renovation of Memorial Park, a public course in the city limits that hosted the 1947 Houston Open and returned as host from 1951 to 1963. For good measure, Brooks Koepka was tabbed to serve as the PGA Tour player consultant.

With the deal, Crane's team pledged $1 million, minimum, to the city's Parks and Recreation, with another $500,000 earmarked for the First Tee Program. Crane has asserted all of the profits will be poured back into the city. "We’re making no money off of this," Crane said in a January 2019 press conference. "I got involved because I didn’t want to see our city lose the PGA Tour.” Crane would later call the deal a "win, win, win, win" for the city. Yet, inspiring as the 11-hour save may be, its new iteration leaves a tad desired.

Crane's ties with the sport run deep. He belongs to some of the most prestigious clubs in the country (Muirfield Village, Monterey Peninsula, Nantucket, and Castle Pines) and owns Floridian National Golf Club, a popular hang-out for PGA Tour players. He once topped the list of Best CEO Golfers in America.

Because of his connections, the Houston media believed players like Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler (the latter two Floridian members) would play in this year's event. A look at the tournament field does not reveal their names ... or the names of any top-flight talent. Golf's upper echelon can be flighty when it comes to autumn events; even so, that none of the world's top 35 players—and just two of the top 50—are playing is somewhat jarring.

A circumstance that has not sat well with Houston Open officials. New tournament director Colby Callaway, who previously worked on the PGA Tour Champions' San Antonio event for 15 years, was frank about the situation in a recent interview with Golf Magazine, putting the blame on both the players and the schedule.
“I’ve been doing this for 13 months and I know I’ve looked a lot of players in the eye who said they were coming and they are not here,” Callaway told “So, I’m a little surprised, but it is what it is.
“It’s a different time in the fall. I’m learning that in the fall, players are interested in chasing the big money internationally and playing overseas. That’s not up to me to figure that out, but up to the tour to help out because there are tournaments here who are saying, ‘What about us?’ Hopefully we can force the tour’s hand to move us.”

PGA Tour executive vice president Andy Pazder, who was in attendance at the tournament's media conference in January, stressed “players need to play the fall tournaments," although there's only so much control the tour has on player agency. With nearly 50 events on the schedule, the unfortunate truth is some tournaments won't draw the tour's main attractions.
For Houston, that means a host of Korn Ferry Tour graduates and rank-and-file players.

As for the scheduling facet, that's a battle to be fought another day. The tour originally had the Houston Open slotted the week before the US Open but Crane objected, stating it would be too hot in the summer for the event. Crane eventually wants the tournament back in the spring, but conceded in January "that won’t happen for at least a couple of years.” Officials hope strong showings in the fall will facilitate that move; there's no official word from the tour if that request is being considered.

Then there's the matter that the Astros Golf Foundation has never run an event. It has a stable of industry veterans; conversely, with the Astros competing in the MLB Playoffs, there is worry about attention divided from the organization and how that may affect this week's proceedings. Nevertheless, optimism remains high. Patterson said the tournament sold a record number of hospitality tents, and despite Callaway's comments, officials are confident the stars will come with its new host.
"The move to Memorial Park next year is going to be another chapter in the success story of saving this tournament," Patterson said. For an event that didn't have a future not long ago, a prospect that's worth the wait.
Report Total Bosman October 9, 2019 7:41 PM BST
Trying to look on the positive side of such a woeful field, it's a big opportunity for the guys who have turned up, not often you get to compete for a fortune, a 2 year tour card and trips to Kapalua and Augusta against a field of this strength.  Money talks but sad to see what's become of a proper historical tournament when you look at the fields the Far East money grab events will get in the next two weeks.
Report therhino October 10, 2019 11:14 AM BST
I have no idea the state of Champ and his grandfather but this drift on him, seeing as he's almost the only guy in the field who looks a future regular winner is too much imo. Worth chancing at 46s.
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 11, 2019 1:54 PM BST
Talor Gooch and Austin Cook are tied for the lead at the Houston Open after carding opening-round 64s (-8)
Sepp Straka sits in solo third. Fellow Georgia Bulldog Russell Henley is tied for fourth at six under along with Tyler McCumber and Lanto Griffin.
Eight players are tied for seventh at 5 under, including five-time tour winner Nick Watney and 20-year-old Cole Hammer, the No. 2 ranked amateur in the world from the University of Texas. Scheffler -3.
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 11, 2019 2:01 PM BST
Round 2 coverage is live on Twitter! Devil
Report Total Bosman October 11, 2019 2:58 PM BST
Guessing Malnati didn't want to hear the horn.
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 11, 2019 6:30 PM BST
Scheffler (at -4) one of the "featured groups" (with McNealy & Hossler).
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 11, 2019 6:57 PM BST
Pat Perez pulled out of the field - the reason for the WD original cited a wrist injury, but friend Steve Elkington had it right when he tweeted - "He just WD .. got a late invite to Korea & Japan so he’s off!!"
There was plenty of time for an alternate, Robert Allenby, to take his place. And although flying to Asia is a long trip, it makes financial sense considering the CJ Cup is a no-cut event with a field of 78 players. Perez is also listed in the field at the following week's inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan.
Report terry mccann October 11, 2019 8:14 PM BST
Going back to the first point,Houston was one of the first cities to roll out 5G. The city has sealed its own fate. I shocked anyone would want to play there.
Report terry mccann October 11, 2019 8:15 PM BST
O and happy gambling btw
Report Hank Hill October 11, 2019 11:21 PM BST
I've layed Watney, but am getting a feeling me might become a bit ominous
Report Total Bosman October 12, 2019 2:28 PM BST
Nicely done as always.
Report Total Bosman October 12, 2019 2:49 PM BST
5 bogeys in a row to finish.  Even by your usual standards that's world class.
Report Hank Hill October 12, 2019 4:29 PM BST
lmao I was hoping for 1 or 2, but 5 Laugh
Report Hank Hill October 12, 2019 5:16 PM BST
How nice is it to see Rich Beem go so well
Report Total Bosman October 12, 2019 7:48 PM BST
Really disappointing this is their last year at this track, one of the better ones they have.  Plenty of birdies as you get everywhere these days but does a really good job of punishing the bad shots.
Report Hank Hill October 12, 2019 8:58 PM BST
It is sad for sure TB-  bizarre that they would move if from the perfect Masters slot let alone abandon it to the fall and then totally give up on it. Who you cheering on? I have Griffin and Cink on ominous watch
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 12, 2019 9:06 PM BST
The second round was completed Saturday morning, with Peter Malnati holding a two-shot lead, amateur Cole Hammer making the cut and Tyler Duncan suffering a calamity on the final hole in the final group.

A total of 59 players finished their second round after play was suspended for darkness Friday at the Golf Club of Houston, thanks to a two-hour weather delay earlier in the day. Malnati had already completed his round as one of the earlier finishers, reaching 10 under after his bogey-free 7-under 65.

He’ll take a two-shot lead over Sepp Straka, Talor Gooch and Scott Harrington into the third round, which will be played off two tees in threesomes in hopes of getting back on schedule. Malnati, Straka and Gooch are in the final threesome teeing off at 8pm our time.
Report Total Bosman October 12, 2019 9:07 PM BST
Not played this one much so far.  As always Hubby is my main guy, dropped anchor at -7 though.
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 12, 2019 9:29 PM BST
Making his season debut, OWGR#37 Henrik Stenson stumbled to a 2-over-par 37-37=74 in the weather-delayed second round and at 2-over 72-74=146, missed the cut by two shots.

A total of 78 players (77 pros, one amateur) from a field of 143 pros and one amateur made the cut of even-par 144, 20 (T59) on the number.
Stenson, the pre-tourney fav his second MC at the Houston Open in eight tries, second in his last three, and first MC since THE PLAYERS back in March (13 starts ago). The 43-year-old was 1-under thru 14 holes on Friday, 1-under total (T44), but returned on Saturday morning to a par-bogey-par-double finish.
Other notable early exits include: 146- Kevin Chappell .. 147- Jhonattan Vegas; Aaron Baddeley; Tom Lewis .. 148- Keegan Bradley; Brian Harman .. 152- Daniel Berger.
Report Hank Hill October 12, 2019 9:42 PM BST
oh dear Griffin is actually getting ominous Sad
Report Hank Hill October 12, 2019 9:46 PM BST
iirc didn't Straka have a good chance of a win not that long ago? was it the stableford?
Report Hank Hill October 12, 2019 9:50 PM BST
fk rakes in 25 fter for co-lead
Report Hank Hill October 12, 2019 10:16 PM BST
4 birdies in a row and 5 of last 6 Cry ominous not sure how much faith I can put in Malnati, Straka and Gooch to bring him back - maybe someone on a late push tomorrow
Report Hank Hill October 12, 2019 10:23 PM BST
a par finally! just need the field to take advantage of these par 5s - no gimme with this lot though
Report Hank Hill October 12, 2019 10:33 PM BST
oh that's a name on the cup kind of shot Cry fo Griffin
Report Hank Hill October 12, 2019 11:41 PM BST
lol Malnati - will be cheering Ortiz, Hossler, Tringale by the looks of it
Report Total Bosman October 13, 2019 1:32 PM BST
Skipped the last couple of hours of this last night, happy with the late move from Hubby.  Bunch of guys with very few wins between them up top around a track that'll punish any nervy mistakes, could be fun and games later, especially down the stretch from 16 on.
Report Hank Hill October 13, 2019 7:24 PM BST
ffs Zhang is not the one I want to be making a move Cry 4 birdies thru 4 to start!
Report Total Bosman October 13, 2019 7:32 PM BST
Had a big green on Mav since the start, better late than never I suppose.
Report Hank Hill October 13, 2019 7:38 PM BST
Redder than a big red thing right now
Report Total Bosman October 13, 2019 7:54 PM BST
Looks like we're back to the day one birdie fest today.
Report Hank Hill October 13, 2019 7:56 PM BST
Dunno if that's good for me or not
Report Hank Hill October 13, 2019 7:57 PM BST
Ominous birdie from Griffin at the first. I really do seem to get punished when I take on these sort of players when they are trading way too low before Sunday - Lashley etc come to mind
Report Total Bosman October 13, 2019 8:25 PM BST
Seems like more and more the sort of guys you used to be able to rely on to bottle it grab their opportunities the first time they come along, and those seem to be the ones that sting you.  Hoping for the sake of a good final day that's not the case with Lanto but it is indeed looking slightly ominous.
Report Hank Hill October 13, 2019 8:29 PM BST
yeah, usually get em out in the final pairing and you could see the crumble, but like you say they're getting more comfortable unfortunately. Early doors, but he looks too relaxed for my liking Sad
Report Hank Hill October 13, 2019 8:31 PM BST
Griffin pops in a birdie and now a par 5 coming
Report Total Bosman October 13, 2019 8:33 PM BST
Strong start but not into squeaky bum time yet, and plenty of H2O between him and the trophy.
Report Hank Hill October 13, 2019 8:34 PM BST
Market loves him though 2.3
Report Hank Hill October 13, 2019 8:42 PM BST
ffs Zhang can't miss right now
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 13, 2019 8:43 PM BST
Sunday charge.....Xinjun Zhang has moved from 15th to T2 and is one back.
Report Total Bosman October 13, 2019 8:44 PM BST
Report Hank Hill October 13, 2019 8:46 PM BST
poor bogey by Griffin
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 13, 2019 8:46 PM BST
59 watch ?
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 13, 2019 8:54 PM BST
Mark Hubbard - 30-year-old leans on precision over power - his lack of distance puts him at a big disadvantage - the Denver native has played three seasons on the PGA TOUR - made a FedEx Cup Playoffs appearance after finishing 115th in the FEC standings 20105/2016. He's held the lead/co-lead twice on the PGA TOUR (2015 Puerto Rico, 2015 Shriners). He has 84 TOUR starts under his belt and is still searching for his first top 10.
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 13, 2019 9:07 PM BST Devil
Report Catch Me ifyoucan October 13, 2019 9:09 PM BST
This has PLAYOFF written all over it
Report Hank Hill October 13, 2019 9:52 PM BST
If only Straka could putt. I think I'll give these poor fields a miss in future - seems to be where my losses are coming from mainly.
Report Total Bosman October 13, 2019 10:16 PM BST
Lucky boy Lanto.
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