Dan Roebuck’s PGA Tour preview – Shell Houston Open

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Rory McIlroy has failed to sparkle since switching to Nike clubs this season but, nonetheless, the former world number one – he was knocked off top spot by Tiger Woods on Monday – has been installed as the favourite at 10/1 for this week’s Shell Houston Open as the build up to the Masters continues in America.

The Ulsterman is half the price he was ahead of his previous start, in the WGC Cadillac Championship, and that perhaps is down to a last day 65 at Doral that reminded everyone of his undoubted talent. But I’d still want to see him put together more than a solitary round of golf before trusting him with any of my hard earned cash – especially at Redstone Golf Club, venue for this week’s event and one McIlroy missed the cut at the last time he teed it up there.

Just further down the outright list sit Steve Stricker (14/1) and Keegan Bradley (14/1) and both are worth siding with.

Stricker has said his starts will be sporadic this season but whenever he has played he has been competitive, as his 2013 form of 2-5-2 proves. Four top 11 finishes in six Redstone starts is another big plus for this ace putter.

Bradley has done little wrong recently with fourth, seventh and, last time out, in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, third. He’s only played Redstone twice before, but seemed to get the hang of the track that attempts to be set up like Augusta last year when fourth.

Putting could be key this week, with the Stimpmeter set to hit 13 or more on undulating greens. Chris Kirk (50/1) ranks sixth on tour in strokes gained putting, flat stick skill he put to good use when runner up to Hunter Mahan here 12 months ago.

My three to follow – Stricker, Bradley and Kirk.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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