World No. 9 Rickie Fowler coasted to a bogey-free, 8-under-par 33-31=64 during the first round of the Shell Houston Open, claiming his spot as the clubhouse leader as the morning wave nears a conclusion on day one.
Opening on the 10th tee today, Fowler wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. He circled birdies in five of his first seven holes, three of them coming on putts from 9-to-15 feet. He would add a crucial 7'1" splash to save par at the difficulty 18th hole, maintaining momentum while keeping his clean card intact. Fowler was very balanced in his attack today, splitting 12 fairways, landing 16 greens, and then gaining 2.67 strokes putting. Playing his 21st round at the Golf Club of Houston, this easily eclipses his previous best of 68 but falls one shy of the course record which is shared by five golfers.
Keegan Bradley breezed through the Golf Club of Houston in round one of the Shell Houston Open, signing for a 5-under-par 36-31=67 to grab a piece of the clubhouse lead as the morning wave starts to wind down on Thursday.
Bradley opened his day on the 10th tee and fired out of the gates with a red-hot putter. He splashed home birdies from 11'4", 29'10", and 17'1" over his first three holes. He would add circles on three of his next five holes with just one bogey in between. Bradley's flat stick would cool down after the turn, and he even missed a par-saving attempt from 4'10" at the sixth hole, but he still walked off the course gaining 2.09 strokes putting. With three top 10s already on his Shell Houston Open resume, Bradley could be hanging around near the top of this leaderboard all week.
Vaughn Taylor torched the Golf Club of Houston with a 5-under-par 36-31=67 during round one of the Shell Houston Open, staking his position as the early clubhouse leader with play still in progress.
Taylor ended a three-event slump with his recent T23 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. When the veteran misses cuts it's rarely due to ball-striking, but his flat stick is always a wildcard. Today, he caught relative fire with that club, splashing home four putts from the 9-to-15 foot range in addition to holing one from the fringe (12 feet). Four of those noted birdies took back on his homeward nine as he blitzed the back nine with a blemish-free 31. Taylor already owns a runner-up finish at this week's venue (2010) which may give him a bit of confidence as he tries to keep his foot on the gas during the remainder of the week.
Ryan Blaum threw his name into the mix early at the Shell Houston Open, piecing together a 4-under-par 34-34=68 during his first navigation of the Golf Club of Houston.
The PGA TOUR rookie missed only three fairways today but parlayed that into just 12 greens in regulation, keeping his short game busy. He did a good job of keeping his round together, though, as his lone bogey came at the par-4 fifth hole where he found a greenside bunker. The highlight of the round came at the par-3 seventh hole. It was here that Blaum nearly jarred his tee ball, tapping in for birdie from just six inches. The Web.com Tour grad is no stranger to fast starts as he's positioned himself inside the top 20 after Round 1 in each of his last three starts, with this very likely being the fourth in a row.
Harold Varner III is off to another quick start, styling a 4-under-par 34-34=68 during the opening round of this week's Shell Houston Open.
HV3 fired out of the gates at last week's Puerto Rico Open with a 6-under 66 to start his week. It was more of the same today as he circled five birdies with just one blemish coming on the closing par-4 18th. Ball-striking was key today as he split 12 (of 14) fairways and missed just two greens in regulation. As you'd expect from someone of his length, he took advantage of the par 5s, grabbing three birdies in four chances. If Varner III remains inside the top 10 by day's end it will be the fifth time he's positioned himself there after R1, this season.
Prior to the start of round one, John Peterson has withdrawn from the Shell Houston Open, giving Trey Mullinax a spot in the field.
There is no injury cited at the moment but gamers should remove Peterson from their lineups. The Fort Worth, Texas, resident arrived with a 4-for-8 record on the season, highlighted by a T12 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He currently sits at 126th in the FedExCup standings. We will update if any injury news becomes available. UPDATE: Peterson updated the situation via Twitter, "Bummed to have to WD this week. Right shoulder been hurtin for months now." Given his 11th-hour WD this week he likely felt close. This may become a week-to-week nagging injury that makes Peterson a risky option for the foreseeable future.
Charles Howell III will make one final push for an Augusta National bid as he readies for this week's Shell Houston Open, needing a win to get into next week's coveted field.
The Augusta, Georgia, native would love nothing more than to win this week at the Golf Club of Houston to earn a spot into next week's big event, played right in his back yard. If only it were that easy, CH3 wouldn't be stuck on two career victories still. There have been too many close calls to even count, but most recent was a T2 at this year's Farmers Insurance Open. On the bright side, the motivation of needing to win this event hasn't hampered him in the past as he's collected top 20s here in four of his last five visits. All winning aside, the reliability of his cut-making is really what gamers are banking on when they draft the 37-year-old.
K.J. Choi heads home in preparation of this week's Shell Houston Open in Humble, Texas.
The transplanted Texan is is 7-for-11 at this event, including four top 10s. Three of those have come on the current venue. However, his current form is not so sparkling. He's kicked off the campaign with a 2-for-10 record with one of those "cuts made" coming in the no-cut CIMB Classic. The 46-year-old should be left on the shelf by gamers in all formats, until he shows any sign of consistent form.