HUMBLE, Texas – While the Masters looms on the horizon, there’s still plenty at stake this week at the Houston Open. Here’s a look at some of the marquee early-round groupings, as some of the biggest names in the game get in some final preparations before Augusta National while others hope to snag the final invite into the season’s first major (all times ET):
9 a.m. Thursday, 1:50 p.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Chris Stroud, Jhonattan Vegas
Spieth will have plenty of support as he once again tees it up in the Lone Star State, this time alongside a pair of Houston locals. Spieth lost in a playoff here in 2015 before cruising to a green jacket, while Stroud has been instrumental in drumming up support for the area after Hurricane Harvey. Vegas is one of 18 players in the field who are already exempt for the Masters following his win at the RBC Canadian Open in July.
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9:10 a.m. Thursday, 2 p.m. Friday: Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer
Stenson and Fowler both return to action after opting to skip the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, while Kaymer is making his first start since withdrawing from the Honda Classic because of a thumb injury. Fowler has cracked the top 10 three times in the last four years here, including a third-place showing last year, while Stenson was a runner-up in both 2013 and 2016.
1:50 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. Friday: Matt Kuchar, Daniel Berger, Steve Stricker
Kuchar appeared in line for a victory here back in 2014 before a 72nd-hole bogey and subsequent playoff loss to Matt Jones. He’ll be joined for the first two rounds by Berger, who has tied for fifth each of the last two years in Houston, and Stricker, who is fresh off his second win on the PGA Tour Champions.
2 p.m. Thursday, 9:10 a.m. Friday: Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Russell Henley
Mickelson is making his traditional start the week before the Masters, returning to a course where he won in 2011 and has finished outside the top 20 only one time since. Rose enters off the momentum of top-5 finishes in both Tampa and Orlando, while Henley returns as the defending champ having finished T-7 or better each of the last four years here.