Date: April 01, 2014
Author: Dejan Kalinic, Omnisport

McIlroy returns in strong Houston Open field

Rory McIlroy returns to action at the Houston Open as several of the world&aposs best plan to use the event to prepare for the year&aposs first major.

The Northern Irish world number seven ends a three-week break with his return for the PGA Tour event at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas.

McIlroy, 24, has managed three top-10 finishes in 2014 but he remains without a victory despite two tied for second results.

The two-time major champion will have to overcome a strong field to have any chance of heading to the Masters at Augusta in winning form.

There are five of the world's top-10 ranked golfers in action and 11 of the top 20 ahead of the Masters starting on April 10.

Swedish world number three Henrik Stenson was tied for second at the Houston Open last year, when DA Points claimed a one-shot victory.

Stenson has been unable to replicate the form that saw him win the FedExCup in 2013 but looks to be building.

His best result of 2014 came in his last start as he finished tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

World number five and 2011 champion Phil Mickelson, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson are the other top-10 players in the field.

Like McIlroy, Johnson looks to be closing in on a victory and should be among the challengers at the Masters.

The American world number 10's worst result of the year was a tied for 33rd at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Otherwise, his efforts have included a second, tied for second, tied for fourth and tied for sixth.

Americans Matt Kuchar (world number 11), Jordan Spieth (13), Steve Stricker (15), Keegan Bradley (18) and South African Charl Schwartzel (17) and Englishman Ian Poulter (19) are also in the field.

A win would be the perfect way to enter a Masters and several of the world's best will be eager to ensure they are in form.