Friday, March 30, 2018

Fowler finding his groove in Houston

  • HUMBLE, Texas — Rickie Fowler, pictured above, doesn't need a win at the Houston Open in Texas to book his place in the Masters field. But that doesn't make this week is any less important for the four-time winner on the Us , who arrived in search of positive vibes in the final tune-up before the year's first major championship.
    After one round, Fowler believes his game is trending in the right direction after he opened with 66 on Thursday to move into contention.
    "Had a couple short ones that we could have got, but all in all, good solid day," Fowler said. "I like where we're heading into the next few days and going into the weekend."
    Fowler began his round with three birdies in the first seven holes and added two more after the turn before suffering his first bogey on the par-4 6th — his 15th hole of the day — when his fairway bunker shot hit the bank and rolled into the water.
    Fowler managed to get up-and-down for bogey to limit the damage and then reeled off back-to-back birdies to close out his round on a high note.
    "Being in contention and getting yourself in position to win and kind of get the blood flowing, it makes it a lot easier to start things up," Fowler said of playing well in Houston the week before the Masters.
    The putter was the difference for Fowler, who made 168 feet, 11 inches worth of putts — 51 feet, 7 inches more than his previous-best figure in the category this season — and only recorded one birdie putt shorter than 10 feet.
    Ranked 127th this season in strokes gained: putting, Fowler admitted the club has cooled since last season when he finished second in the statistical category. That wasn't the case on Thursday.
    "Nice to have the putter coming around because it was something that was great last year," he said. "I feel like it's always been one of my strongest parts when it gets going, and I've had a couple cold months, so heating back up."


    Hoping to book his place in the Masters field, Steve Stricker opened with 67 and sits just two shots back of the lead after Round 1. While his wins came on the PGA TOUR Champions, it could be debated that no one in the field is playing at a higher level than Stricker, who won last week in Mississippi for his second straight victory on the 50-and-older circuit.
    Phil Mickelson has come agonizingly close to shooting 59. For nine holes on Thursday, it appeared the 43-time TOUR winner was well on his way to potentially getting another shot. Six birdies on the front saw Mickelson go out in 30, but the round hit a snag on the par-3 14th when he failed to advance his ball out of the greenside bunker, leading to a double bogey. Mickelson still shot 68.
    A two-hour rain delay to begin the first round ensured a return to the course on Friday for 33 players in the field. The Golf Club of Houston received 2.30 inches of rain. Round 1 will resume at 7:20 a.m. (local time) with Round 2 expected to begin as scheduled.
    Making his first start in Houston, Kevin Tway managed to log just one practice round before his pro-am was canceled on Wednesday due to inclement weather. A lack of course knowledge wasn't an issue for Tway, who shot a bogey-free 65 to grab a share of the clubhouse lead with Lucas Glover. "I was kind of going at it a little less prepared than usual, but sometimes that's good and today it was," said Tway.
    Receptive greens and preferred lies in closely-mown areas turned the day into a birdie-fest for many in the field, with 39 players shooting 68 or better. Normally the first round is an opportunity to get into position for the weekend, but with low scores up for grabs, some felt the need to be even more aggressive than normal. "I was going right at it trying to hole a couple, especially with the wedges. You've got to try and make birdie with those conditions," said Tway.
    One week after he came close to advancing out of the group stage at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, Julian Suri was Monday qualifying for the Houston Open. The 72nd-ranked player in the world shot 64 to make the field and then opened with 66 in just his fourth TOUR start this season.


    Jordan Spieth – The 2015 FedExCup champion opened with 68, his lowest first-round score at the Houston Open. Spieth waited until the end of the round to produce some fireworks, rolling in three consecutive birdies from inside 8 feet to move into contention.
    Henrik Stenson – The 2013 FedExCup champion never got the putter going but still managed to shoot 4-under 68. The Swede only missed two greens in regulation.
    Justin Rose – Rose hasn't skipped a beat this season with four top 10s in his first five starts. His run of good form continued with an opening-round 68 that could have been even better if not for a bogey on the last. Six of his last 10 rounds have been sub-70.
    Tony Finau – Making his fourth appearance at the Houston Open, Finau hit 15 greens in regulation but needed 31 putts to get around the course in 2-under 70.
    Russell Henley – The defending champion made four birdies in his first six holes but only made one the rest of the way. He's now opened with a sub-70 round three of the last four years.
    Matt Kuchar – Kuchar made his move on the back nine with four birdies in a five-hole stretch, beginning on the 12th, to shoot 68. He's attempting to make the cut for the fifth time in 10 starts at the Houston Open.
    Low round: Lucas Glover and Kevin Tway opened with 65s to grab a share of the clubhouse lead. The score was the lowest of the year for both players. Sam Ryder (8 under) and Beau Hossler (7 under) were still on the course when play was called off for the day due to darkness.
    Longest drive: 381 yards – Chesson Hadley padded his driving stats for the season with a poke that caught the cart path on the par-4 17th and wound up 86 yards from the hole. Hadley took advantage of his good fortune by making birdie.
    Longest putt: 53 feet, one inch – Matt Jones drained the lengthy birdie putt on the par-3 9th hole.
    Easiest hole: Par-5, No. 8 (4.450) with 68 birdies, 52 pars and 5 bogeys.
    Hardest hole: Par-4, No. 18 (4.147) with 14 birdies, 85 pars, 28 bogeys, 1 double bogey and 1 other



    +Russell Knox had a 71



    Post a Comment

    << Home

    Copyright © Colin Farquharson

    If you can't find what you are looking for.... please check the Archive List or search this site with Google