4 former HGA golfers in Houston Open field
Four former Houston Golf Association junior golfers are in this week’s field of the Houston Open – Shawn Stefani of Houston, Chris Stroud of Houston, Bronson Burgoon of The Woodlands and Ryan Bacca of Sugar Land.
Burgoon, who managed to play only 13 holes before play was suspended at 7:40 p.m., was part of a 16-way tie for 10th at 5 under. Stefani was also at 5 under. Baca completed his round at 2 under and Stroud at 1 under.
Play was suspended on Thursday at 7:40 p.m. with 33 golfers still on the course. Those golfers will resume their first round at 7:20 a.m. on Friday.
The second round will go on as scheduled at 7:20 a.m. on Friday for the golfers who completed their first round. Friday morning tee times will not be affected by the suspension.
Suri has hot putter
Julian Suri has an interesting background. He was born in New York, lives in St. Augustine, Fla., attended Duke, and is a winner in Europe on both the Challenge Tour and the European Tour.
He also can putt. He needed only 25 putts on Thursday in a 6-under-66 that placed him in a share of fifth place.
“I’m hitting it close so I’m giving myself plenty of chances,” said Suri, in describing his low number of putts at the Golf Club of Houston. “As with the greens as good as they are, in the morning, especially, soft greens, (little wind), it was kind of out there for the taking.”
Suri has been playing well. He took Bubba Watson to the limit at last week’s Dell Technology Match Play Championship. But Suri still had to go through a Monday qualifier to get into the Houston Open.
Playing in a qualifier was far different than playing before big crowds last week in Austin.
“It’s a little slower pace, less people, a little different crowd on the day before the start on the range,” Suri said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just golf and I knew I was playing well, so I’ve just got to take to it.”
No deprivation in Cauley’s game
Bud Cauley doesn’t mind arriving to the golf course at 5:30 a.m. That is if he has a 7:20 in the morning tee time. Not two hours later. Early morning rain that descended on the Golf Club of Houston Thursday delayed the golfers’ tee times two hours.
“I got here about 5:30 and then started eating breakfast,” Cauley said. “And about 20 minutes later got the text, it was an hour (delay), then eventually ended up being two.”
In a good mood after opening Thursday’s first round with a birdie on the 18th hole to finish 5 under, Cauley, who teed off at 9:30 a.m., kiddingly added: “I wish next time they’ll do it (delay the tournament) when I’m still in my room so I can go back to sleep.”
Cauley wasn’t sleep walking on the course, playing the front nine in 33 and the back nine in 34, positioning himself for a share of tenth place.
Cauley didn’t do anything spectacular on Thursday. Just good, solid golf. His longest made putts were around 15 feet, including the one on No. 18, which caught a lot of the hole before dropping in.
“My short game’s kind of been keeping me in there,” Cauley said. “I hit my irons great today. The driver was still a little suspect, but I’ll work on that and get that straightened out.”
Rookie Mitchell shows no fear
For a brief period, Keith Mitchell held the first-round lead at the Houston Open. The PGA Tour rookie was displaying his golf skills at the Golf Club of Houston and playing with confidence.
“There’s no reason to be afraid out here on Tour,” said Mitchell, who opened on Thursday with a 5-under-par 67.
Teeing off in the first group of the morning off the No. 1 tee, Mitchell played bogey free and until making 5 on the par-4 18th.
Mitchell’s stellar play is no fluke. Mitchell, who shared the lead at 6 late into his round, finished second last week at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.
“I feel my game has been around this whole year and I haven’t been able to close out really on the weekend,” said the former University of Georgia star,” Last week was the first time I did that.
“I feel like if I can just stay in the present out here and just know the season’s long, my game’s there. I’ve just got to keep plugging away.”
Mitchell, who is 11th on the tour in driving distance (311.7 yards), has played 11 tour events with two top-25 finishes. The 26-year-old gained PGA Tour status by finishing 21st on the Web.com Tour in 2017.
Things looking good for Houston Open
With ideal weather, an elite field of PGA Tour golfers playing the course, and large, enthusiastic crowds expected at the Golf Club of Houston, the Houston Open is shaping up for a banner weekend.
“Our advance ticket sales, just our grounds tickets have been well above last year, so we’re expecting big crowds,” said Steve Timms, president and CEO of the Houston Golf Association. “We know total revenue, we’re well ahead of pace, and have some goals we set prior to tournament week and we’re well ahead of that.
“You get beautiful weather like this and there’s that opportunity to go online and buy a ticket immediately. You decide it’s beautiful and you decide to come out and see some golf.”
As usual, the golf course, under the care of superintendent Brian Buckner, has been well received by the players, despite rain on Wednesday and early Thursday.
“(The reponse) has been very positive,” Timms said. “The course is perfect just as we always expect. It’s sort of a general comment. ‘It’s always great.’ Those kind of things, so they kind of expect it be perfect. And Brian Buckner has delivered on that again.”
Excellent weather for the weekend
The rain has ended and Friday’s weather forecast is promising with zero percent chance of rain and a sunny sky. There also is no chance of rain forecasted on Saturday and Sunday.
The high should reach 81 degrees on Friday with a low of 59. A northeast wind is projected at 8-16 mph. High pressure is expected to settle across Texas on Friday with comfortable temperatures and low humidity.
“The weather forecast looks beautiful,” Timms said. “The rain kind of came through an opportune time over night and into this morning. Yesterday afternoon was tough for our pro-am, but this weekend ought to be great.”
Dry weather will continue into this weekend with southeast wind at 10-20 mph each day and afternoon temperatures in the lower 80s. Saturday is expected to be sunny with a high of 82 and Sunday should be partly cloudy with the high reaching 84.
Garrigus can’t maintain strong start
Robert Garrigus made birdie on three of his four first holes and five of his initial seven holes in a sizzling start. Going off on No. 10, Garrigus reached 5 under and played the back nine in 31.
The front nine wasn’t as kind to Garrigus, who finished his early-morning round with a more-than-respectable 3-under-par 69. He played the front nine in 2-over-par 38. He made only one birdie over his final 11 holes.
Two consecutive 6s derailed what was a promising round for Garrigus, whose lone PGA Tour victory was the 2010 Children’s Miracle Network Classic. He bogeyed the par-5 fourth hole and his tee shot on the par-4 fifth hole found water, resulting in a double bogey.