HUMBLE Fan favorite Fred Couples heads a group of three former champions and two more highly ranked players who have committed to play in the Shell Houston Open, announced Tournament Director Steve Timms.
The tournament extended a sponsor exemption to the 54-year-old Couples, who now regularly plays the Champions Tour. Twelve-time PGA TOUR winner Steve Stricker, No. 13 in the World Golf Rankings, and German star Martin Kaymer (No. 52), the 2010 PGA Championship winner, have also indicated they will tee it up the week of March 31-April 6 at the Golf Club of Houston, formerly known as Redstone Golf Club.
Former SHO champions Hunter Mahan (2012) and Paul Casey (2009) round out the new commitment list. Mahan, winner of five PGA TOUR events, is No. 32 in the World Golf Rankings. Casey, the first English Shell Houston Open winner, boasts 14 professional titles, including the 2013 Irish Open.
Couples is returning for his 21st Houston appearance. He won the 2003 Shell Houston Open, becoming the first University of Houston alum to win the PGA TOUR s 10th oldest tournament. Freddie sports nine Champions Tour victories, plus 15 PGA TOUR triumphs, including the 1992 Masters.
Couples still holds the SHO record for consecutive cuts at 19. His streak: 1982-1983; did not enter 1984; played 1985, did not enter 1986-1987; played 1988-1990; did not enter 1991; played 1992; did not enter 1993-1996; played 1997-1998; did not enter 1999; played 2000-2012; did not enter 2013).
The addition of Couples and Kaymer brings the total of officially committed major championship winners in the SHO field to 10 and counting. The eight other major championship winners include Rory McIlroy (2012 PGA Championship, 2011 U.S. Open), Keegan Bradley (2011 PGA Championship), Stewart Cink (2009 British Open), Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland (2011 British Open), Padraig Harrington of Ireland (2007, 2008 British Open & 2008 PGA Championship), South African star Louis Oosthuizen (2010 British Open), Davis Love III (1997 PGA Championship) and Lucas Glover (2009 U.S. Open).
Matteo Mannasero, the 20-year-old Italian sensation who is No. 48 in the World Golf Rankings, has already accepted a sponsor exemption into the SHO.
Players have until March 28 to commit to play in the Shell Houston Open. Committed players may also withdraw without penalty by that date.
D.A. Points is the defending Shell Houston Open champion. Houston s TOUR stop is the final opportunity for players not-otherwise-eligible to claim an invitation to The Masters tournament in Augusta, GA.