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Charles Howell III Finishes Top-5 At Shell Houston Open

With a Masters invitation on the line in Houston this week, Charles Howell put up a good fight that ultimately ended in a top-5 finish.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Pokes bounced back this week in Houston after last week's debacle in San Antonio.  While none of them made the playoff that was eventually won by J.B. Holmes, it was still a pretty good week overall for the former Cowboys.

Coming into the week, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan had already received their invitations to Augusta, but Charles Howell III, Bo Van Pelt, and Scott Verplank were still trying to play their way into The Masters.  A victory would have secured an invitation for any of these three, and one of them had a chance to do just that late Sunday.

Charles Howell III was at it again this week.  After a hot start (6-under 66 in round one), he was in contention all week.  He started his round off Sunday with three birdies in his first five holes and was right in the thick of things, but he didn't make another birdie the rest of the way.  The putts just weren't falling for him down the stretch, and he ultimately finished in a tie for fifth at 13-under.  A couple of impressive stats worth noting were his Driving Distance and Greens in Regulation.  He finished the week third in driving distance at 310.8 and tied for fifth in Greens in Regulation, hitting 59/72 for the week including an almost perfect 17/18 in round one.  Had he been able to have a few more putts to drop, he would have come home with a first place trophy this week.

The next best finisher this week was Hunter Mahan.  After opening rounds of 67 and 68, he was right in the thick of things going into the weekend, too.  The weekend didn't treat Hunter quite as well, though.  After an up and down round on moving day that ended with Hunter shooting an even par 72, he was still within striking distance Sunday morning.  Things never quite got going Sunday, however, and he finished the day with a 1-over 73.  He did finish on a good note with a birdie on the closing hole, and his game is looking like it's in great shape heading into The Masters.

Rounding out the Cowboys who made the cut were Bo Van Pelt and Rickie Fowler.  Bo's week was looking like it might end early after shooting a 2-over 74 on Thusday, but he bounced back in a big way on Friday with a 6-under 66.  He did exactly what he needed to do and made the cut on the (extremely low) number at 4-under.  Bo continued his strong play on Saturday with a 2-under 70, but he fell back some on Sunday with a 75.  He finished the week in a tie for 57th but moved up four spots in the FedEx Cup Standings.  Rickie's week was a tale of two tournaments.  After shooting a pair of 69's in the first two rounds, he went the opposite direction on the weekend.  Scores of 77 and 76 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, brought him down the leaderboard to finish in 71st.  Things didn't go quite as planned for Rickie this week, but I have no doubt he'll be ready for Augusta next week.

Scott Verplank was the only Cowboy to miss the cut this week.  He followed up a first round 74 with an 80 in round 2 and was sent home early.  We may continue to see him in PGA Tour events here and there, but with the Champions Tour schedule just starting to ramp up, he will probably be spending quite a bit of time playing in those tournaments.  In either case I'm hoping for the best for this special talent who has been a staple on Tour for nearly 30 years.

All eyes are now on Augusta for the greatest week of the year.