Power Rankings: Shell Houston Open


This week marks the 21st event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour continues its Texas two-step with the Shell Houston Open. A field of 144 players will tackle Redstone Golf Club, where the winner could grab the final spot available in this year's Masters field.

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D.A. Points returns to defend the title he won last year by one shot over Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Houston:

1. Henrik Stenson: The Swede got off to a slow start this year, but appears to be rounding into form just in time. Stenson tied for fifth at Bay Hill and preceded that with a strong weekend at Doral. He was a runner-up here last year and also tied for third in 2009; he has yet to shoot over par at Redstone and six of his 12 competitive rounds have been in the 60s.

2. Rory McIlroy: The Ulsterman is still in search of his first win in 2014, but it may come this week. While McIlroy has played here only once since 2010, a T-45 last year, he's been on an upward trend for much of the past six months. McIlroy is the highest-ranked player in this week's field, and will look to fine-tune his game this week before heading to the Masters as a favorite in light of Tiger Woods' withdrawal.

3. Dustin Johnson: DJ has a pair of runner-up finishes to his credit in 2014, and generally has experienced a bit of a renaissance this season. He tied for fourth here a year ago, closing with a 65, and has the length to create extra birdie opportunities around Redstone. He currently leads the Tour in scoring average and GIR percentage, and he ranks behind only Bubba Watson in driving distance.

4. Keegan Bradley: Bradley is making his first start since a runner-up finish at Bay Hill and already has seven top-25 finishes to his credit this season. He's cracked the top 10 each of the past two years in Houston, including a T-4 finish in 2012, and is currently 11th on Tour in birdie average.

5. Sergio Garcia: Garcia has only made three PGA Tour starts in 2014, but the Spaniard did win in Qatar in January and remains a contender when his putter cooperates. He has made one prior Shell appearance, a tie for 77th in 2009, but his play in Florida indicated that he should better that this time around. Garcia tied for eighth at the Honda Classic, then followed that with a T-16 at Doral.

6. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar let a golden opportunity slip away last week at Valero, where he tied for fourth after a final-round 75. Despite the near-miss, Kuchar still has five top-10 finishes in eight starts this season, and remains one of the Tour's most consistent ball-strikers. He last played in this event in 2010 and 2011, but tied for eighth in each of those two appearances.

7. Lee Westwood: The Englishman has been a consistent staple on the leaderboards at Redstone, finishing T-30 or better each of the past five years. He has carded just three rounds over par during that stretch, a run that includes a tie for eighth in 2008 and a T-10 finish last year. Westwood is still in search of his first top-10 this season, but based on his comfort level in Houston, that drought may end this week.

8. Jordan Spieth: Were it not for a rocky start to his opening round in San Antonio, Spieth may have factored down the stretch at Valero. Still, the 20-year-old turned an apparent missed cut into a top-10 finish, displaying some serious grit along the way. As a former Longhorn, he'll again have some crowd support this week in Houston as he looks for a fifth top-10 finish in 2013-14.

9. Charley Hoffman: Hoffman quietly tied for 11th last week in San Antonio, his third consecutive top-25 finish on Tour. He's also had some success at Redstone, with four top-25 finishes since 2006. With a majority of the field in search of a Masters invite that would accompany a win this week, Hoffman may be one of the more likely contenders to emerge from the pack and earn a last-minute invite to Augusta.

10. Louis Oosthuizen: Oosthuizen seemingly came out of nowhere to contend again at the 2012 Masters, but that year he used a third-place finish at this tournament as a precursor. The South African has one of the smoothest swings around, but has missed time recently because of back pain (then again, who hasn't?). If Oosthuizen is healthy, he could be a name to watch as he also tied for 10th last year and was T-16 in 2011.