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Stricker and not Mickelson the man to beat in Shell Houston Open

| 29.03.2012

Phil Mickelson is the favourite to win the Shell Houston Open at 10/1, but there is a strong likelihood that Steve Stricker will prevent him winning the PGA Tour event for the second season in succession.

Fairway accuracy and impressive putting credentials are perhaps the two necessary ingredients to success at Redstone Golf Club and these are instantly recognised as the main strengths of Stricker.

Stricker has proved adept at handling the demands of the course in the past and has finished inside the top 11 in four of his five visits to Redstone.

His most recent appearance was at this very tournament last season when finishing in a share of fourth behind Mickelson.

Stricker should also arrive well rested having taken a week off since claiming a share of eighth in the WGC-Cadillac Championship and all season has demonstrated that he has lost none of his short game ability.

Meanwhile, in his other three starts he has claimed another top-ten finish, alongside victory in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Based on the PGA Tour statistics, he ranks fifth in terms of hitting greens in regulation and top of the birdie average chart, both of which will be vital to a prominent finish at Redstone.

Mickelson enjoyed a productive February with a success at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and then followed up by going close at the Northern Trust Open, when missing out in a play-off to Bill Haas.

He is yet to shoot below 70 in his two tournaments since and he is likely to need to shoot lower at Redstone to feature.

The good news for Mickelson fans is that the course plays relatively similar to Augusta, where he holds an impressive record and that he is a more than capable of racking up a birdie streak at Redstone.

He equalled the course record in the third round last year en route to the title and fired more birdies than any other player in the event.



Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.