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Shell Houston Open 2012: Steve Stricker in Position to Win at Redstone

HUMBLE, TX - MARCH 29:  Steve Stricker watches his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club on March 29, 2012 in Humble, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IMarch 29, 2012

Steve Stricker may have only four starts under his belt in 2012, but he's also one of the freshest golfers at the Houston Open.

Stricker, 45, has never won the Houston Open, but the No. 5 golfer in the world is playing well out on the links in 2012.

Stricker has already won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this season and posted top-10 finishes in his last two starts. Beyond that, while he's never won the Houston Open, he's posted top-11 finishes in four of his last five starts at the tournament. He placed fourth last year with a 13-under-par, 275.

At the Cadillac Championship earlier this month, Stricker performed very well on the fairways and the greens. He finished with an 11-under-par, 277. He's been very consistent, as well, posting only one round of over 70 this year.

There are, of course, plenty of golfers who won't make things easy on Stricker. Ernie Els is everybody's sentimental pick, as a win would likely catapult him into the 2012 Masters. He's placed fourth and fifth in the past two weeks.

There is also Johnson Wagner, who has either excelled or bombed at the Houston Open throughout the years. But he has been extremely consistent lately, with four top-15 finishes, I expect Wagner to come to play. He tied for fourth at Bay Hill.

But when I look at the field overall, I like Stricker's chances. He appears positioned to play four solid rounds of golf and ultimately come away with the victory. It won't be a blowout by any means, but I like Stricker's mental and golf game right now. I think he'll slowly but steadily distance himself from the field by the end of Sunday.

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