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Fantasy Island: Shell Houston Open

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GolfChannel.com experts offer up their picks for the the Shell Houston Open. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from three groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell; contributors John Hawkins and Charlie Rymer; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; contributor Win McMurry; writer for NBCSports.com's ProGolf Talk, Ryan Ballengee; and RotoWorld.com's Rob Bolton.


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2007 Shell Houston Open

*Ranking among the 16 GolfChannel.com experts

Rex Hoggard

Rex Hoggard
Score (Rank*):
3,687,489 (3)
Group A:
Hunter Mahan

Group B:
Steve Marino

Group C:
Johnson Wagner

After Nick Watney, Mahan may be the circuit’s most consistent player and we like the transplanted Texan’s odd-year trend in Houston (T-5 in 2007, missed cut in 2008, T-6 in 2009, missed cut in 2010).

Forget Sunday’s struggles at Bay Hill, Marino is quickly establishing himself as the best Tour player without a title; and, like Dustin Johnson, Marino’s best asset may be a very short memory.

Showed signs of coming out of his post-Mexico victory funk at Bay Hill with a closing 69 and won by two in 2008 at Redstone to get into the Masters so the place is filled with good vibes.

Randall Mell

Randall Mell
Score (Rank):
1,638,356 (15)
Group A:
Lee Westwood

Group B:
Anthony Kim

Group C:
Fred Couples



Time to step it up and show he's ready to win his first major.
 
Winning memories spark a return to Kim's better form.
 
Houston this week, the Masters next, Couples has some serious mojo working.



Charlie Rymer

Charlie Rymer
Score (Rank):
2,566,260 (10)
Group A:
Matt Kuchar

Group B:
Tommy Gainey

Group C:
Fred Couples

Kuchar is the most consistent player on the PGA Tour. He certainly will pick up another top-10, and isn't a win a top-10?

Gainey has been close a couple of times this season and if he can drive the ball just a bit better he will pick up that first win.

Couples in Houston is always a solid pick.


John Hawkins

John Hawkins
Score (Rank):
3,298,804 (7)
 Group A:
Hunter Mahan

Group B:
Anthony Kim

Group C:
John Rollins





Texas guy will have on gameface before year's first major.

If Houston's strip clubs don't floor him, he just might repeat.

It just feels like one of those weeks when he resurfaces.





Jay Coffin

Jay Coffin
Score (Rank):
2,550,715 (11)
Group A:
Matt Kuchar

Group B:
Steve Marino

Group C:
Kyle Stanley
I need some cash so I'm going with Mr. Consistent. Even if he doesn't win he should top-10, which I'll take at this point.

This pick may backfire, but he was close last week at Bay Hill and I'm betting he'll jump back on the horse and contend quickly.

Makes a ton of birdies and has had a great season with only one missed cut, and he tied for 12th last week at Bay Hill.

Gary Williams

Gary Williams
Score (Rank):
3,038,332 (8)
Group A:
Matt Kuchar

Group B:
J.B. Holmes

Group C:
Roland Thatcher

This top-10 machine has five of them in seven starts in 2011 but is due for a win. Finished T-8 at Redstone in 2010.

Has not played in the Masters since 2008 and missed out at the last moment in 2009 in his playoff loss at Redstone. Maybe the most motivated guy this week.

Has quietly posted a pair of top-10s in 2011, including a T-5 at Innisbrook. He would love to play in his first Masters next week.

Erik Kuselias

Erik Kuselias
Score (Rank):
3,922,455 (2)
Group A:
Lee Westwood

Group B:
J.B. Holmes

Group C:
Fred Couples


A pair of top-11 finishes at Redstone Golf Club in the last two years and he is the highest ranked player in the field. Can’t forget about this guy.

After failing to move up the world ranking at Bay Hill, this is his last chance to earn an invite to Augusta. Lost in a playoff at Redstone in 2009

Two top-4 finishes at Redstone in the last three years and has shown he can still play on the PGA Tour with his T-7 at Riviera last month.

Win McMurry

Win McMurry
Score (Rank):
5,936,866 (1)
Group A:
Hunter Mahan

Group B:
D.J. Trahan

Group C:
Chad Campbell
It’s been feast or famine in Houston for the newlywed who now has Texas roots (his wife is a former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader). Mahan has racked up top-10s this year in half of his eight starts.
 
He’s teed it up at the SHO two times since 2007 with T11 in 2010 and a eighth-place finish in 2007. He’s coming off his best finish of the season, a T12 at Bay Hill.
 
The Texas native has a T-2 and a T-25 in his last three starts in Houston and I think we’ll see him play well this week in his return to the Southwest.

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee
Score (Rank):
451,083 (16)
Group A:
Lee Westwood

Group B:
Steve Marino

Group C:
Fred Couples

HeIn the last two years in this event, he has gone T-11 and then T-8. That's a great record. Add in Westwood's drive to make the Masters his first major title and he seems keen on succeeding.

His finish at Bay Hill was impressive, even if in defeat. And he has two top 20 finishes in this event the last two years. When I say he could win any week, I mean it.

Call it sentimental, but Couples in a hometown event seems like something to lock onto this week. He wasn't great last year, but was a top 5 finish in the two prior years.

Rob Bolton

Rob Bolton
Score (Rank):
2,525,763 (12)
Group A:
Matt Kuchar

Group B:
Marc Leishman

Group C:
Bobby Gates


Co-leads the PGA Tour with five top-10s. Ranks 10th in putting and eighth in scrambling, both premiums this week.
 
Proven affinity with: 1) the Lone Star State, where he recorded his lone Nationwide Tour win and has three top-12 paydays on the PGA Tour; 2) wind, which will blow this week. Also coming off a T-3 at breezy Bay Hill.
 
Lives nearby, in The Woodlands. Texas A&M product proved that he can handle the wind at the Mayakoba (T-5) and in Puerto Rico (solo sixth). Ranks 18th in distance off the tee, which is beneficial this week.



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