Sutton Looks to Come Out of Shell in Houston


The Shell Houston Open moved up a month on the PGA Tour calendar this year ' and it couldnt come soon enough for Hal Sutton.
Sutton is the defending champion of this weeks $4-million event. It was 24 starts ago that he claimed his 14th career tour title ' 24 very long starts ago.
Sutton hasnt earned a top-10 since winning at The Woodlands. This year has been particularly painful, as he has missed six cuts in nine starts ' two of those events (Mercedes and WGC-Match Play) had no cut.
The two-time Houston runner-up finally made good last year. He shot 3-under-par 69 on a windy Sunday to best Joe Durant (74) and Lee Janzen (73) by three strokes, and finish with a 10-under 278 total.
'This is one that I wanted more than anything,' Sutton said after victory. 'I've been close here so many times, so close and yet so far, so this is really good. I knew it would be tough. Today, it helped to be packed with patience.'
Sutton started the final round two shots back of Durant, who was trying to win his third event of the season. The wind troubled players Sunday. Sutton ' impeded by the wind ' hit his approach shot into the water at the seventh, but made a long-range putt to save bogey.
'That (bogey) was the turning point for me,' he said. 'I could have come away with my confidence damaged but I felt great.'
Sutton went on to birdie eight and 10 to move two up on Durant. A bogey, however, at the 15th cut his lead to a single stroke. Unable to capitalize on Suttons slip, Durant bogeyed 16, while Sutton birdied 17 to seal the victory.
This will be the final time the 7,018-yard TPC at The Woodlands will host this event. The venue will shift to the 7,350-yard Red Stone Golf Club in 2003. The Woodlands has been the site of the Shell Houston Open for 28 years. The Tournament Players Club has been in rotation since 1985; before that, they played The Woodlands Country Club.
This is the penultimate event leading to the Masters. The BellSouth Classic will take place next week in Atlanta.
1998 champion David Duval headlines the field, competing for the $720,000 first-place check. Scott Hoch, Chris DiMarco, John Daly and Jim Furyk are among the American participants. There is also a strong international contingent. Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Greg Norman, Nick Price, Adam Scott, Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn are working their ways to Augusta this week.
Full field and tee times for the Shell Houston Open