Emiliano Grillo can claim final Masters spot with Houston win
Argentinian can push Ian Poulter and Beau Hossler all the way
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The expectation on Saturday was that American stars Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth would duke it out for the Houston Open, but that did not materialise as the big-name pair fell off the pace.
Fowler continues to have his trials on the greens and hit a disappointing 73 while Spieth has not been as assured with the flat-stick as in previous years. Both situations need to be rectified if either of them are to capture the Green Jacket at The Masters next week.
Spieth is four shots off the pace with Fowler a further stroke behind as Ian Poulter and Beau Hossler lead the field by two.
The winner will claim the final place in next week's field at Augusta and with the first major of the season containing several past champions with little hope of winning, there could be a sense of justice if Poulter captured it.
His world ranking of 51st means he is just outside the cut-off line and he played some excellent golf, building on his run to the quarter-finals of the WGC-Del Match Play last week, with rounds of 64 and 65 in the last two days.
But he has not won anywhere since 2012 and could feel the pressure as the man to be shot at, although Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar are the only two players to have already qualified for Augusta who are in the top 12.
Hossler has kept up with the pace but will have to keep his nerves in check. He has finished second twice on the Web.com Tour, but with the prize of a Masters appearance available, this is a much bigger task.
Four players will start two shots behind but there are reservations to be had about some of them.
Left-hander Gary Chalmers hit a 65 on Saturday but his efforts this week have been in marked contrast to his 2018 form to date as he had missed six of his last eight cuts before heading to Houston.
The top of the leaderboard is also unfamiliar territory for Kevin Tway, who has not finished in the top 20 in any of his last 19 tournaments.
Ireland's Paul Dunne is at least building on his fifth place at last week's Corales Championship in Dominican Republic when the game's leading lights were playing in the Match Play, but preference is for Emiliano Grillo to continue to make his presence felt.
The Argentinian's putting has improved during the week and a double bogey at the sixth on Friday has been the only blot on his card.
His form this year is solid enough - his eighth place at the Honda Classic three weeks ago the highlight - and the world number 75 can punch his ticket for next week's showpiece.
1pt each-way 10-1 general
Don't miss our 28-page Masters betting guide in Wednesday's Racing Post