By Seth Kerr
GolfWRX Staff Writer
Angel Cabrera and Carl Pettersson are tied for the lead at 7-under after rain halted Round 1 play at the Shell Houston Open.
Only 51 players finished the first round at Redstone Golf Club. It is not an ideal scenario for the 31 golfers in the field playing in the Masters next week, who are most probably not thrilled with the idea of playing more than 18 holes a day before the season’s first major.
No player has won the Shell Houston Open and the Masters the following week, but Ernie Els would sure like to give it a shot.
Els is just hoping to make it to next week, and The Big Easy needs a win in Humble, Texas to secure a spot on his own merit. Els is at 1-under after completing two holes of play. He has two top-10 finishes the last two weeks, but another top-10 won’t do him any good — unless the Masters committee decides to extend the three-time major champion a special invitation like it did Greg Norman in 2002 and Ryo Ishikawa this year.
“I just want to have a good week,” Els said. “If I can win, obviously, that would be absolutely wonderful. But my goal here is not to get into the Masters, it’s to play the Shell Houston Open as good as I can.”
While Els is saying all the right things, a player of his stature measures success on major victories, and not making the year’s first major would have to be a devastating blow to his confidence.
Fan favorite Fred Couples is in the field as he prepares for his annual trip to the Masters. Couples is 1-under after three holes. If he makes the cut this week, he will extend his tournament record for most consecutive cuts made to 19.
Ricky Barnes and Jeff Maggert are tied in second place after shooting 6-under par 66s. Barnes has played in the previous four Masters but has to win this week if he wants to play this year.
The first round will continue tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. EST. Coverage is on the Golf Channel from 3:-6: p.m. EST.