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Texans, Academy partner up at SHO


In the PGA Tour's final stop before the Masters Tournament at Augusta, Ga., Johnson Wagner held off a competitive field to win the 2008 Shell Houston Open with a score of 16-under par. By ousting the likes of Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples, the Amarillo native earned his first win on the PGA Tour and, along with it, a spot in this weekend's Masters.

But between Thursday, when Wagner tied defending champion Adam Scott's record-setting round of 63, and Sunday, when he held off Jeff Ogilvy and Chad Campbell for a two-stroke victory, there was plenty to be excited about off the greens and fairways at the Redstone Tournament Course as well.

Jam-packed tents such as the Michelob Ultra Champions Pavilion along the 18th fairway gave spectators a place to sit, relax and enjoy delicious food and drinks, all without missing a second of the action.

Behind the 18th green at the Academy Sports Outdoors tent, fans had an opportunity to check out a wide variety of high-end golf equipment and to meet the Texans Cheerleaders and Texans tight end Owen Daniels, kicker Kris Brown and guard Chester Pitts.

Daniels was signing autographs and greeting fans at the tent on Thursday, while Pitts was there Sunday. On Friday, when the golf action was cut short due to rain, Brown urged fans into the tent for a few minutes of conversation and shelter from the downpour.

Seated next to his outspoken four year-old son Kolby, Brown welcomed the influx of fans brought on by the rain showers. Kolby even offered assistance at times when his father was swamped by autograph-seekers, carefully penning his own name on a few Kris Brown photos for fans.

{QUOTE}"This is great," Kris Brown said. "I love coming out to the tournament, and it makes it even more enjoyable when you can come out and visit with some of the fans and just thank them for their support and certainly, at the same time, help out Academy because they're such a great sponsor of the Texans."

During the tournament, the Academy tent had plenty more than just umbrella functionality attracting fans to its confines. In addition to the cheerleaders and three Texans players, the tent was stocked full of Academy's newest high-end golf products, ranging from clothing to equipment.

Fans, including Kolby, lined up to practice driving and putting golf balls at supervised areas inside the tent.

"Traditionally at Academy, we've had kind of starter sets and those kinds of things, but now we're carrying a lot of the nicer, higher-end types of products and a lot of people don't know that," Academy's Director of Promotions Todd Fedewa said. "So this week here we wanted people to come in, try out our newest drivers, try out our newest putters, see some of our new golf clothes and accessories and stuff, and it's been a lot of fun for folks."

Brown, himself a golf aficionado, is a frequent visitor to the Redstone course and regularly attends the Shell Houston Open. He has been continually impressed by the strides the tournament has made in recent years under the guidance of tournament and course officials.

"It's really been amazing to watch the changes since the tournament came here in '03," he said. "It was all played on the Member Course and it was always in the latter part of April. To have the course now move over to the Tournament Course and be positioned the weekend before the Masters, a lot of people would say that at first was a negative but really, the HGA (Houston Golf Association) has done a tremendous job of turning this into a positive, along with Redstone. And the way they've taken care of the course, they've really attracted a top field."

Academy was thrilled to have Brown, one of the Texans' top performers on the field, greeting fans at their tent on a day marred by bad weather.

"It's definitely nice to have him out here," Fedewa said. "Even though it's a rainy day, he certainly brightens it up for folks. It's certainly nice, the partnership that Academy has with the Texans and with the Texans players."

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