Shell Houston Open power rankings

March 28, 2017

[This article originally appeared on FanSided.]

Last week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was certainly thrilling for PGA Tour fans, but now that the dust has settled, it’s time to return to stroke play at this week’s Shell Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas.

With two World Golf Championship events in the last month, it might not feel like Masters Thursday is nearing, but here we are. We’ve gotten to see a lot of top players in action over the past few weeks, and while many are taking this week off to rest in preparation for Augusta National, others are using this event as an important tune-up.

Here are my power rankings for the week.

1. Phil Mickelson

Mickelson’s tie for fifth at the Match Play stands as his fifth top-five finish since the calendar turned to 2017, so we know he’s still as consistent as ever as he nears his 47th birthday. In addition, he’s really heated up over the last month, posting top 10s at back-to-back WGC events. With that kind of momentum, he should be ready to turn some heads at the Golf Club of Houston, where he found the winner’s circle in 2011. All told, Mickelson hasn’t missed out on the top 20 at the Shell Houston Open since 2010.

2. Jon Rahm

Rahm turned in one of the most impressive performances of the week at the WGC-Dell Match Play, advancing all the way to the final match before narrowly losing to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. The runner-up finish was his fourth top five in the last two months, a remarkable run of form for such a young player. While he’s yet to log a competitive round at the Golf Club of Houston, his greenness hasn’t stopped him from contending at a litany of other events. On the season, he ranks third in strokes gained tee-to-green, and he putted quite well at Austin Country Club last week.

3. Rickie Fowler

Fowler rolls into this week on a streak of four consecutive top-20 finishes, including a win at the Honda Classic last month and a solo 12th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. His track record at the Shell Houston Open is a bit uneven, but at least he’s never missed a cut, finishing inside the top 10 in two of the past three years. Fowler ranks inside the top 15 on the PGA Tour in both strokes gained approach-the-green and strokes gained putting, and he’s the circuit’s top player out of the sand.

4. Jordan Spieth

Going by the standard we have for most golfers, Spieth is in terrific form, but he’s still faded a bit over the past month — his last top 10 came when he won at Pebble Beach in February. However, the 23-year-old didn’t fare too poorly at the WGC-Match Play last week, posting a win, a loss and a half in what turned out to be a surprisingly competitive pool. With two consecutive top 15s at the Shell Houston Open, including a share of second place in 2015, he definitely feels comfortable on the course. He’s the PGA Tour’s top-ranked player in both strokes gained approach-the-green and greens in regulation.

5. Rafa Cabrera Bello

Cabrera Bello couldn’t match his 2016 performance at last week’s WGC-Dell Match Play, but he still logged some solid rounds, defeating two opponents, including a red-hot Tyrrell Hatton, in the group stage. It still wasn’t good enough to advance to the knockout rounds, but that just means he’ll be better rested for this week’s event. In terms of course history, he’s made just one career start at the Golf Club of Houston, but it was a good one — a year ago, he shot a final-round 65 to rocket into fourth place.

6. Adam Scott

With three top 20s in four worldwide starts this year, Scott has come away with a solid result from almost every tournament he’s entered. The outlier was a tie for 45th at his most recent event, the WGC-Mexico Championship. Furthermore, Scott won the 2007 edition of the Shell Houston Open, and while it’s been seven years since he last made an appearance in Humble, the fact that he’s never missed a cut at the course is promising.

7. Russell Henley

Henley’s inconsistency can be infuriating, but the fact is he’s picked up six top-25 finishes in just 10 events on the 2016-17 season. He’s been especially hard to predict recently — sandwiching a tie for ninth at the Valspar Championship between two pedestrian result — but with a top 10 in each of the last three years, the Golf Club of Houston has always been kind to him. With that track record, as well as his ranking of 18th in strokes gained putting and 19th in greens in regulation, he has enough going for him to warrant inclusion on this list.

8. Charles Howell III

Howell turned in an outstanding performance in Austin last week, surviving a group that included Tyrrell Hatton and Rafa Cabrera Bello before falling to a surging Jon Rahm in the Round of 16. He’ll still be credited with a top 10 for the week, improving his yearlong record to five top 15s in eight events. Furthermore, he’s put together a nice track record at the Shell Houston Open, featuring a top 10 in three of the past four years. Statistically, he doesn’t dominate in any one category, but his rankings of 35th in total strokes gained and 20th in scoring average are testaments to his consistency.

9. Henrik Stenson

With a tie for seventh, a missed cut and a withdrawal due to illness in his last three starts, Stenson has been all over the place in the past month. However, at the risk of completely whiffing, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt this week, if only because of his impressive track record at the Shell Houston Open. The 40-year-old has picked up two runner-up finishes in his last three trips there.

10. Charley Hoffman

Hoffman missed four cuts in five events to kick off the 2016-17 campaign, but he’s been on fire lately, picking up two top-five finishes in his last three starts, including a share of second place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. There, he ranked fourth in the field in strokes gained tee-to-green and led it in putts per green in regulation. He’s never missed a cut at the Shell, posting five top-25 finishes over the years.