April 2, 2015 - 1:17pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Keegan Bradley
USA Today Sports Images
Keegan Bradley got a little creative when asking his girlfriend to caddie for him in the Masters Par 3 Contest.

One of the great traditions during Masters week is the playing of the Par-3 Contest the day before the actual tournament starts.

The pictures each year from the Par-3 are the best -- the children of players decked out from head to toe in a Masters green hat and white, caddie jumpsuit; loved ones caddying, friends caddying, etc.

A LOOK BACK: Photos from the 2014 Masters Par-3 Contest | Masters field

Well, Jillian Stacey -- the longtime girlfriend of 2011 PGA Champion Keegan Bradley -- tweeted out a special invitation she received on Thursday from Bradley:

 

Nice touch with the green roses, Keegs.

Bradley sends out special Masters caddie invitation
April 2, 2015 - 12:34pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
PGATour.com
In need of some confidence heading into the Masters, it's looking early on like the Shell Houston Open is just what the doctor ordered for Phil Mickelson.

Outside of a runner-up finish at the 2014 PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson hasn't played his best golf over the last 15 months. He missed the cut at the Masters a year ago for just the second time in his career.

This week, he's looking for some form before heading to Augusta, Ga., where he's looking to win his fourth green jacket.

RELATED: Shell Houston Open leaderboard | Masters field | Masters coverage

If Thursday's start to the Shell Houston Open, Mickelson might be finding that form at just the right time.

After missing the green with his approach on the par-4 10th hole at the Golf Club of Houston -- his first hole of the tournament -- Mickelson had his caddie pull the flag from the hole before he settled in for the birdie chip.

Here's what happened:

 

Not a bad way to get a round started.

At the time of this posting, Mickelson was 6 under through 12 holes and had an share of the early lead.

 

Mickelson chips in for birdie to start Houston Open
April 2, 2015 - 10:45am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Iceberg golf
YouTube
A couple of friends took to Lake Michigan recently with a paddle board, some golf equipment and cameras. They decided to play "Iceberg Golf."

Seth Haley, a filmmaker and photographer, posted this incredibly cool video to YouTube on Wednesday of Joshua Nowicki (another photographer), using a stand up paddle board and icebergs to play "Iceberg Golf" on Lake Michigan:

 

Our friends at BleacherReport.com found the story from Wilx.com, which included this quote from Nowicki:

Seth and I both spend a lot of time at Lake Michigan and have been talking about various photo and film project we could do with the ice on Lake Michigan. Looking at the shapes of the ice on the lake reminded me of a green on a golf course and I semi-jokingly said that I would like to play golf out there. After some discussion we decided that it was quite possible and I went out to give it a try.

Is that something you'd try out?  

Iceberg golf looks insane
April 1, 2015 - 1:56pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Phil Mickelson
USA Today Sports Images
Phil Mickelson is playing the Shell Houston Open this week, looking for his first PGA Tour top-10 finish since the PGA Championship last August.

For the second straight week on the PGA Tour, some players will be playing a tournament within a tournament.

For those already exempt for next week's Masters, this week's Shell Houston Open is one final chance to prepare for the season's first major. The Golf Club of Houston is a great place for it, too, as the conditions mimic those of Augusta National.

And for those players not exempt for the Masters, this week provides one last opportunity, as the winner punches the final ticket to Augusta. Aussie Matt Jones did just that last year.

RELATED: Houston Open tee times | Tiger plays 18 at Augusta | Masters field

So Houston will be interesting. While some top players will be looking to find some form, others will be hoping to be the one who joins those top players in Georgia a week from now.

Here are five players to keep an eye on.

5. Matt Jones
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Reason to watch: After a missed cut in his first start of the new season back in October, Jones has been incredibly consistent, advancing to the weekend in each of his last 10 starts. He returns to Houston this week as the defending champion after dramatically defeating Matt Kuchar in a playoff a year ago by holing a pitch shot to set up the win (Kuchar missed his chance for birdie to advance the playoff). That victory also earned Jones the last spot in the 2014 Masters. Like this time last year, Jones is not yet in the Masters field. This is his last chance and he needs a win. Can he find the magic again this week and repeat at the site of his first Tour win like Matt Every did a few weeks back at Bay Hill?

4. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T17 at the Honda Classic
Reason to watch: A slumping Phil Mickelson (by his standards, that is), limps into the Shell Houston Open without a single top-10 this season. If you remember, Mickelson's first top 10 in 2014 didn't come until his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship. The man is all about winning majors. He missed the cut at the Masters for just the second time in his career last year. Many players -- Mickelson, most notably -- feel that the Shell Houston Open is an excellent tune-up for Augusta National because the conditions on the course are very similar. Mickelson needs some good vibes before trying to chase down a fourth green jacket, so how about this week at a place where he won in 2011?

3. Justin Rose
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T48 at World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: It's been a quiet, downright poor, season thus far for Rose. Then again, the 2013 U.S. Open winner hasn't been playing a whole lot either. Like Mickelson, Rose is going to need a boost to gain some confidence before next week. He knows it, too, based on the fact this is his first Shell Houston Open start since 2010.

2. Sergio Garcia
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T4 at Northern Trust Open
Reason to watch: Garcia finished third in the Shell Houston Open one year ago. Over the last couple of years, the Spaniard has been incredibly consistent. Sure, he's always been a spectacular player, but in the last couple of seasons we've seen him pile up top 10s the way he did back in the mid-2000s. For top players like Garcia, Houston is preparation for next week. He'll approach it as such.

1. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2 at Humana Challenge
Reason to watch: OK, aside from the fact that he was the runner-up in this tournament a year ago, Kuchar is No. 1 on this week's list for one reason and one reason alone -- something's got to give. Do you realize he's gone four consecutive tournaments without a top-10 finish? Kuchar is the PGA Tour's modern day Scott Hoch -- a human ATM machine. Since 2010, he's had no less than eight top-10 finishes per season. He's got two so far this year. During this same stretch of three tournaments last year, Kuchar finished second in Houston; tied for fifth in the Masters and won the RBC Heritage. He's about to hit his stride.

Here's how my five to watch fared at last week's Valero Texas Open:

5. Ben Curtis -- Missed cut
4. Ryan Palmer -- T6
3. Zach Johnson -- T20
2. Jimmy Walker -- Won
1. Jordan Spieth -- 2 

5 players to watch in Houston