The Houston Open won't be played as scheduled this year, but it has found a familiar landing place.
The tournament was originally slated for Nov. 9-15, a slot that has now been claimed as "intended dates" for the postponed Masters as the golf world looks to salvage a semblance of a schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, tournament organizers announced Monday that the event will instead be played Nov. 2-8, the week preceding the Masters and one that was originally allocated to the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
"Augusta National and the PGA Tour requested that we move our dates so that the Masters can be played at the most optimal time in the fall for that event, and we were happy to accommodate," said Astros Golf Foundation president Giles Kibbe. "This is a win-win for both tournaments. The Masters has their rescheduled dates, and the change places our tournament as the premier tournament to once again be played the week prior."
The Houston Open was a Masters tune-up for more than a decade, played the week before the season's first major 11 times from 2007-18. The tournament subsequently grappled with sponsorship issues and nearly fell off the PGA Tour schedule before returning last year as a fall event spearheaded by Houston Astros president Jim Crane. The Valero Texas Open now holds the pre-Masters spot on the schedule but was canceled last month because of coronavirus concerns.
Assuming golf returns to competition by the fall, the Houston event will look a little different this year than what players and fans might recognize. Tournament officials took great strides to make the conditions at the Golf Club of Houston closely resemble those that players would face the following week at Augusta National, but this year marks the first edition at the new host site, Memorial Park Golf Course near downtown Houston. The course recently underwent a $33 million renovation under the guidance of Tom Doak and with former world No. 1 Brooks Koepka serving as a consultant.
Lanto Griffin won last year's Houston Open in its final playing at the Golf Club of Houston, which had hosted the event since 2003.