Shell Houston Open 2014: Tee times, pairings for Thursday's round

Scott Halleran

The Houston Open has specifically set up its course to simulate Masters conditions, and it's drawn a fairly loaded field just one week before the season's first major.

Most minds are already on Augusta National, but the Shell Houston Open this week is the perfect tune-up for players prepping for the Masters. The PGA Tour, tournament organizers and staff at the Golf Club of Houston have specifically set up the course so that players will get as close to the conditions they'll see next week. Of course, no greens really run and move the way they do at Augusta, but the Houston Open shaves down all the areas around their greens so the kind of chipping and putting work needed to succeed at Augusta is simulated.

The strategy of simulating those Augusta conditions as much as possible has worked, drawing a loaded field for an event just one week before a major. There are those superstar players who feel they need to play the week before no matter the venue to get in some competitive reps, but they are few. The Houston Open has probably the best field of any pre-major tournament, save for Firestone, which is in its own category as a WGC event.

There are 23 of the top 50 players in the world in Houston this week, including headliners Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy. Mickelson was a late arrival, getting in Wednesday night after a couple days practicing at Augusta. After withdrawing from the Texas Open last week with an oblique pull, it's a bit surprising to see Phil tee it up again before Augusta. But playing the week before a major is his traditional routine, and Houston has always been one of his favorite courses to work on his game for the Masters. He was pretty upset with the Tour's scheduling last year when the Texas Open, an event he never plays (until this year), fell on the week before Augusta.

McIlroy doesn't yet have a locked schedule we can write in at the start of every year, but this is the second straight season he'll play Houston after skipping it for a couple years. He played last season more out of necessity, with almost no reps and a couple horrible results before Augusta. He added the two-stop Texas swing last minute, and played fairly well. Now he's back and thanks to Tiger Woods' WD this week, he's the new favorite for next week's major. Given his form through the first quarter of the year, McIlroy should contend this week and is in an entirely different spot than last year.

Both players are on opposite sides of the draw, with Mickelson in the morning wave on Thursday and Rory out in the afternoon. Both are playing with two other big names in their threesomes, so expect their groups to get most of the TV coverage through the first two rounds. Rory, along with Dustin Johnson and Luke Donald, will be out at 1:40 p.m. ET and play in Golf Channel's coverage window (3 to 6 p.m. ET) on Thursday. Here's the full tee sheet for the first round:

Morning wave off No. 1:

Tee Time Players
8:20 a.m. Aaron Baddeley Bo Van Pelt Joe Ogilvie
8:30 a.m. Brendon de Jonge Kevin Chappell Morgan Hoffmann
8:40 a.m. Brian Davis Josh Teater James Hahn
8:50 a.m. Steven Bowditch Ernie Els Louis Oosthuizen
9:00 a.m. Russell Henley Scott Stallings Chris Kirk
9:10 a.m. Brian Gay Kyle Stanley Stewart Cink
9:20 a.m. John Merrick Lucas Glover Robert Allenby
9:30 a.m. Sang-Moon Bae Kevin Streelman Michael Thompson
9:40 a.m. Rickie Fowler Ben Curtis Retief Goosen
9:50 a.m. Camilo Villegas Andres Romero Brian Harman
10:00 a.m. John Mallinger James Driscoll Daniel Summerhays
10:10 a.m. Ted Purdy Kevin Kisner Bubba Dickerson

Morning wave off No. 10:

Tee Time Players
8:20 a.m. Brendan Steele Jason Kokrak Scott Langley
8:30 a.m. Paul Goydos Ricky Barnes Greg Chalmers
8:40 a.m. Padraig Harrington Ryo Ishikawa Nicolas Colsaerts
8:50 a.m. Webb Simpson Phil Mickelson Keegan Bradley
9:00 a.m. Jimmy Walker Henrik Stenson Matt Kuchar
9:10 a.m. Jonathan Byrd Geoff Ogilvy Angel Cabrera
9:20 a.m. Derek Ernst J.J. Henry Johnson Wagner
9:30 a.m. Charlie Beljan David Toms Tim Clark
9:40 a.m. J.B. Holmes Peter Hanson Chad Collins
9:50 a.m. Robert Garrigus Chris Stroud Brian Stuard
10:00 a.m. Andrew Loupe Jamie Lovemark Peter Uihlein
10:10 a.m. Michael Putnam Tyrone Van Aswegen Matteo Manassero

Afternoon wave off No. 1:

Tee Time Players
1:10 p.m. Brendon Todd Charlie Wi Cameron Tringale
1:20 p.m. Bryce Molder John Rollins Nicholas Thompson
1:30 p.m. Ryan Palmer Jeff Maggert Erik Compton
1:40 p.m. Dustin Johnson Rory McIlroy Luke Donald
1:50 p.m. Jordan Spieth Sergio Garcia Steve Stricker
2:00 p.m. Tommy Gainey Darren Clarke Mike Weir
2:10 p.m. Martin Kaymer Harrison Frazar Stuart Appleby
2:20 p.m. Lee Westwood Y.E. Yang Davis Love III
2:30 p.m. Stephen Ames Graham DeLaet D.H. Lee
2:40 p.m. Freddie Jacobson Luke Guthrie Martin Flores
2:50 p.m. Jim Renner Ben Martin Brad Lardon
3:00 p.m. Shawn Stefani John Peterson Andrew Putnam

Afternoon wave off No. 10:

Tee Time Players
1:10 p.m. Paul Casey Matt Jones Justin Hicks
1:20 p.m. Trevor Immelman Jeff Overton Troy Matteson
1:30 p.m. Ben Crane Roberto Castro Seung-Yul Noh
1:40 p.m. Bill Haas Hunter Mahan Charles Howell III
1:50 p.m. Kevin Stadler Ian Poulter Charl Schwartzel
2:00 p.m. Jonas Blixt John Huh Scott Gardiner
2:10 p.m. D.A. Points Jhonnattan Vegas Justin Leonard
2:20 p.m. Ted Potter, Jr. Carl Pettersson Charley Hoffman
2:30 p.m. Sean O'Hair David Hearn Richard H. Lee
2:40 p.m. Heath Slocum Jason Gore David Lingmerth
2:50 p.m. Jim Herman Brice Garnett Branden Grace
3:00 p.m. Bobby Gates Hudson Swafford Jon Curran

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