Houston Open hurt by scheduling quirk

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The Houston Open has created an identity as the last chance for a player to qualify for the Masters Tournament.

Hunter Mahan won the Houston Open after shooting 16-under-par 272. For the past couple of years, the tournament has been the lead in to the Masters.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Hunter Mahan won the Houston Open after shooting 16-under-par 272. For the past couple of years, the tournament has been the lead in to the Masters.

But not next year.

The Masters traditionally ends on the second Sunday of April, and the way the calendar falls in 2013, that pushes it back one week later than usual. The Masters next year will be April 11-14.

That leaves an extra week between Bay Hill – the end of the Florida swing – and the first major of the year. The PGA Tour has decided that Houston will stay the week after Bay Hill, and the Texas Open in San Antonio will take the spot the week before the Masters.

Along with giving players (Ernie Els comes to mind) one final chance to qualify for the Masters, Houston has become an attractive spot for players wanting competition before the first major. It sets up Redstone Golf Club to help prepare players for Augusta.

“We’re going to work with it,” Houston Open tournament director Steve Timms said. “It’s not going to change the strategy at all in terms of how we set up the golf course. We have momentum. We’ve been received well by the players. We’re hopeful they’ll continue to want to play in Houston to prepare for the Masters.”

But it’s less than ideal for Houston.

For starters, the Houston Open will end on Easter Sunday next year. And if that’s not enough, the PGA Tour has agreed to move the Tavistock Cup – a Monday-Tuesday exhibition – from the week of Bay Hill to the week of Houston.

Why can’t Texas go a week before the Houston Open next year?

According to two officials, the Texas Open contract says that it cannot end on Easter Sunday, which is why it was given the week after the Masters last year. The tournament is one of the top contributors to charity on the PGA Tour, with much of that money coming from a golf outing it holds the day after its event. The fear is that ending on Easter would limit participation in the outing.

WHAT’S IN A NAME: The name of the most famous shot in Masters history makes no sense.

Augusta National came across two newspaper clippings from 1935 when Gene Sarazen holed a 4-wood for his second shot on the par-5 15th.

Both referred to the shot as a “double eagle.”

But if an eagle is two shots under par, a double eagle then would be four shots under par.

It’s known as an “albatross” everywhere but in the United States, no doubt because of Sarazen, yet Sarazen once referred to his shot as a “dodo,” and so the mystery continues.

“I didn’t know what a double eagle was until I came to the U.S.,” Geoff Ogilvy once said. “Maybe they couldn’t think of a word for something better than an eagle, so they called it double eagle. But it’s not really a double eagle, it’s an eagle-and-a-half.”

PING GOES PINK: That pink driver used by Bubba Watson is going to the market.

Two days after Watson won the Masters, Ping said it would sell 5,000 limited-edition G20 drivers with the pink shaft and head.

The drivers sell for $430, and Ping said it would donate 5 percent to a fundraising campaign called, “Bubba Long in Pink. Driven by Ping.”


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