The Golf Club of Houston will stretch to 7,441 yards for this week's Shell Houston Open and it will be set up to provide the field with a stern challenge. And to get an insiders view into the keys for the week, Team Titleist caught up with Scott Stallings following a practice round and he shared some insight on what it's going to take to successfully navigate this par 72 track.

"This course is pretty straightforward and allows you to take driver off the tee on most of the par 4's," said Stallings. "It is pretty wide open and there is little to no rough, so if you stay away from the hazards and properly position your approach shots into the green, you have a chance. I thought the greens we played at San Antonio last week were among the best we've played all year, but I can tell you these are right up there."

Danger still lurks on several holes though, including the 480-yard 5th and 464-yard 6th, a pair of par 4 dogleg lefts with water in play and a risk-reward feature to both.

"On both holes it is important to choose the proper line when you take it over the water based on the wind," said Stallings. "If you miscalculate the wind or the line on either, you are re-teeing and birdie opportunities turn into potential bogeys or worse."

On the 5th, water protects the left side of the fairway and a well struck tee shot, just left of a fairway bunker on the right, leaves the player with the best angle to attack the green. Number 6 features an intimidating tee shot that must carry a water hazard and avoid a long “strip” bunker, adjacent to the left of the fairway. A well struck tee shot results in a shorter approach into a green protected by water along its front and left.

"Those two holes definitely make you think when you get to the tee what approach you want to take, and what line may be best," said Stallings. "Wind, depending on what direction it is blowing, will also play a part in your decision off the tee and what iron you will be hitting into the green."

If the threat of rain over the weekend develops, Stallings thinks that will play into the hands of the longer hitters.

"If the course plays firm and fast like it is right now, anybody can win," said Stallings. "If it gets wet, it will play extra long and soft and could be a shootout among the longer hitters. If it gets soft, there could be some mud balls which may be a factor on approach shots into the green."

Stallings also believes it could be a dramatic finish given the challenge of the 488-yard par 4 closing hole.

"It is a great finishing hole and is another one that makes the player think about what to hit off the tee," said Stallings. "If it is downwind, a 3-wood and 8-iron could get you there. If it is in the face, it could be a driver and long iron. There is also enough trouble with the water bordering the left side and a large bunker where a player could pay a price."

If you survive the tee shot, the approach leaves little margin for error, with water on the left and a sand bunker on the right. Attacking the hole locations on this hole, especially when it is back left, is a gutsy proposition given the undulation of the green.

"I really like the course and am gaining confidence in my game right now," said Stallings. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity this week and hope to be in the hunt come Sunday."

Stallings' pursuit for his fourth career PGA TOUR title will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning as part of an all-Titleist Brand Ambassador that also includes Ben Crane and Chesson Hadley.

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Walking down the 18th fairway at TPC San Antonio and approaching the green with a comfortable lead, Titleist Brand Ambassador Jimmy Walker was able to enjoy a rare moment on tour and start a little early reflection on what would be his fifth career PGA TOUR title.

“Just walking up and having everybody there. It was surreal,” said Walker. “I tried to just really soak it in, just let it all soak in. It was cool.”

With the hometown crowd cheering him on all week, Walker put together an impressive four rounds of near perfect golf in extremely challenging conditions. He led the field in birdies (22 total), greens in regulation (70.83%), strokes gained putting (10.338) and strokes gained total (20.315).

Let’s take a closer look at Walker’s winning setup from this past week.

WHAT'S IN JIMMY WALKER'S BAG
Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1x golf ball
Driver: Titleist 915D2 driver (9.5º) w/Aldila Rogue Tour X shaft
Fairway: Titleist 915F fairway metal (15º) w/Aldila Rogue Tour X shaft
Fairway: Titleist 915F fairway metal (18º) w/Fujikura Motore VC8.2 Tour shaft
Irons: Titleist MB 714 irons (3-9) w/True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Vokey Design SM4 pitching wedge (48-10 F), SM5 sand (54-10 M) and lob (60-04 L) wedges w/True Temper Dynamic Golf X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 303 GSS

Congratulations, Jimmy!

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It was a home game this weekend for Titleist Brand Ambassador Jimmy Walker at the Valero Texas Open and with the local gallery rooting him on, he became the first two-time winner this season on the PGA TOUR. Walker's win headlines another successful week for Titleist golf ball players as they captured four victories across the worldwide professional tours.

Facing windy and challenging conditions all week, Walker held onto his 54-hole lead by posting a solid final round 2-under par 70 to hold off  fellow Texan and Titleist Brand Ambassador Jordan Spieth (Pro V1x golf ball, 915D2 (9.5) driver, 915F (15.0) fairway metal, 712U 3-iron, AP2 714 (4-9) irons, Vokey Design SM5 pitching (46-08 F), gap (52-08 F), sand (56-10 S) and lob (60-04 L) wedges, Scotty Cameron 009 prototype putter).

Coming off his Valspar Championship win of two weeks ago, Spieth put on an impressive back-nine charge that included a stretch of four consecutive birdies to match Walker’s final round 70 and earned him a solo second place finish.

Both players will move to career highs in the Official World Golf Ranking, with Spieth going from sixth to fourth and Walker from 13th to 10th.

Walker, who defended his Sony Open in Hawaii championship in a nine-shot runaway in January, now has a tour-best five victories over the past two seasons.

"Everybody says it's hard to win at home, but it's hard to win any week," said Walker. "Home, away, out of the country, it's hard. So I feel good."

Titleist golf ball loyalist Billy Horschel (Pro V1x) finished solo third, three shots behind Spieth, while Titleist Brand Ambassador Chesson Hadley (Pro V1x golf ball, 915D3 (9.5) driver, 915F (16.5, 21.0) fairway metals,  MB (4-PW) irons , Vokey Design SM5 gap (52-12 F), sand (56-10 M) and lob (60-10 M) wedges) and Titleist golf ball loyalist Daniel Summerhays (Pro V1x) tied for fourth another shot back. 

FUN FACTS:

• Each of the top five finishers, and seven of the top 10, relied upon Titleist golf balls for their success at the Valero Texas Open.

• Titleist golf ball loyalists have now claimed 13 victories through the first 20 events on the 2014-15 PGA TOUR, 10 more than the nearest competitor with 3.

• Eight of those wins have been earned by full product line Titleist Brand Ambassadors, including two by Jimmy Walker (Sony Open in Hawaii, Valero Texas Open), Jordan Spieth (Valspar Championship), Brooks Koepka (Waste Management Phoenix Open), Bill Haas (Humana Challenge), Charley Hoffman (OHL Classic at Mayakoba), Robert Streb (The McGladrey Classic) and Ben Martin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open).

• Five additional golf ball wins have been secured by Alex Cejka (Puerto Rico Open), Padraig Harrington (The Honda Classic), James Hahn (Northern Trust Open), Bubba Watson (WGC-HSBC Champions) and the winner of the CIMB Classic.

WEEKEND HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WORLDWIDE PROFESSIONAL TOURS:

 On the LPGA Tour,Titleist Pro V1 golf ball loyalist Cristie Kerr reeled off four straight birdies on the back nine and closed with a 7-under 65 to win the Kia Classic by two shots over Mirim Lee (Pro V1x). 

Kerr shot four consecutive rounds in the 60s to secure her 17th career LPGA Tour title. Her 20-under par 268 victory total broke the Kia Classic scoring record by six shots.

'I love to win," Ker said after the victory. "Golf has always been great to me, always given me special moments like this.''

 At the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, David Frost (Pro V1) won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic by one shot over fellow Titleist golf ball loyalists Tom Lehman (Pro V1) and Kevin Sutherland (Pro V1x). Frost closed with a 4-under 68 en route to a 10-under 206 victory total.

The win marks the sixth Champions Tour victory for the South African, who also recorded ten victories on the PGA TOUR.

 Tommy Cocha (Pro V1x), closed with a 3-under 69 to win the Mazatlan Open by two shots. He finished with a 17-under-par 271 victory total in just his second PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Tour event.

TITLEIST BY THE NUMBERS

In total, 4,921 players have teed up Titleist golf balls in competition on the 2015 worldwide professional tours, more than six times the nearest competitor with 729 and more than all competitors combined.

With four wins this week, Titleist’s 2015 victory count advances to 33. That's three times the nearest competitor with 11 and more than all competitors combined.

THE TITLEIST LEADERBOARD  |  WEEK ENDING March 29, 2015

TourEventTitleist Golf Ball PlayersNearest Competitor
PGA Tour Valero Texas Open 93 15
European Tour Trophee Hassan II 99 16
LPGA Tour KIA Classic 100 10
Champions Tour Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic 106 16
Web.com Tour Chitimacha Louisiana Open 95 17
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