2013 Shell Houston Open: Top Golfers to Watch in Masters Tune-Up

Aashish SharmaCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2013

HUMBLE, TX - MARCH 28:  Brandt Snedeker walks off the second green during the first round of the Shell Houston Open at the Redstone Golf Club on March 28, 2013 in Humble, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It is the second day of the Shell Houston Open in Humble, Texas. At the time of writing, at 10 under, Steve Wheatcroft has a one-stroke lead over D.A. Points, who was the leader after day one of the tournament.

But with the pinnacle of professional golf less than two weeks away, fans and players seem fixated on Augusta.  

So, let’s observe the top players to watch in the current tournament as they head into the Masters.


Rory McIlroy

McIlroy made headlines after making a controversial switch in his club provider, dropping Titleist for Nike in a 10-year deal. Since making the change, the 23-year-old has struggled.

Former golfer and six-time major winner Nick Faldo spoke on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive about the McIlroy’s new gear: "I call it dangerous. I’ve changed equipment, and every manufacturer will say, ‘We can copy your clubs; we can tweak the golf ball so it fits you.’ But there’s feel and sound as well, and there’s confidence, you can’t put a real value on that. It’s priceless."

Despite this not being a “bulletin board material” sport, expect Faldo’s comments to light a fire under McIlroy. If that doesn’t serve as enough motivation, he has the chance to regain the top spot in the rankings after Tiger Woods wrestled it away from him.


Brandt Snedeker

Snedeker was playing at a high level before being sidelined with a rib injury. Now healthy, he seems primed to win a major and, barring an unforeseen turn of events, should be ready for the Masters.

Snedeker is currently sitting at one over par at the 2013 Shell Houston Open, and, while he has proved to be a little rusty, he has shown no signs of discomfort.

According to Steve DiMeglio of USA Today, Snedeker (speaking at the Arnold Palmer Invitational) said, "This is an injury you don’t want to try to play through because it can get worse, and, obviously the Masters is something that you don’t want to miss due to an injury. So this is why I took my time."

Hopefully Snedeker returns to form when he tees off in Augusta in 11 days.


Lee Westwood 

 Westwood recently relocated to the United States to improve his chances to win a major—something he has yet to achieve.

Time is of the essence for the 39-year-old Englishman; his metaphorical window is in fact closing. Although he has been consistent throughout his professional career, younger players such as Rory McIlroy stand in his way.

Currently tied for 19th at four under par, he will look to make a strong finish at the Shell Houston Open. It will certainly be interesting to see if he can carry some momentum into the Masters.