By Richard Dean
It hasn’t been the easiest path to the PGA Tour for Bronson Burgoon of The Woodlands. After leading Texas A&M to the 2010 national championship, the golfer, who grew up playing the sport in events conducted by the Houston Golf Association, has battled injuries that has derailed a once promising career.
He’s been the Burgoon of old over the first two rounds at the Golf Club of Houston. Burgoon’s 4-under-par 68 on Friday followed a brilliant 67 that has placed the 30-year-old in a share of sixth place at the halfway mark of the Houston Open, his hometown tournament.
“It is special, just for the fact that I grew up with the HGA and that’s how I grew to love the game,” Burgoon said. “So to be able to come out here and play well, and with the HGA running the event, it’s really cool.
“It’s great, but it’s only two good rounds. It has been a weird road but it’s been a really good one. And I’m looking forward for the next few months. It’s starting to come around. I’m thankful to be here.”
Burgoon, who plays out of The Woodlands Country Club and Bluejack National, is coming off wrist surgery and recently broke a rib.
Burgoon’s best PGA finish this year is a tie for 17th at the Safeway Open. He secured his PGA Tour card for the 2017-18 season with a ninth-place finish on the 2017 Web.com Tour Finals money list.
At the 2009 national championship in Toledo, Ohio, Burgoon won the decisive match in the Aggies’ victory over Arkansas. On the 18th hole, Burgoon hit a gap wedge from 125 yards that ended 3 inches from the cup. The conceded putt gave Texas A&M the title.
HGA has been good to Stefani
Shawn Stefani has special feelings for the Houston open and the Houston Golf Association, which puts on the annual PGA Tour event. And for good reason.
It was here in 2014, that Steve Timms, CEO and president of the HGA, extended Stefani an exemption into the tournament when Stefani could really use one. He took full advantage and responded with a top-10 finish to earn enough money in that year’s Houston Open to regain playing status on the PGA Tour.
On Friday, the Houstonian, who played collegiately at Lamar, responded with a second-round 69 to follow up his 67 on Thursday for a share of 11th.
“It means the world,” said Stefani, in describing how gratifying it is to be playing well at this tournament at the Golf Club of Houston. “I grew up watching this event and always dreamed about playing in it.”
Stefani, who plays out of Eagle Pointe Golf Club in Mont Belvieu, is seeking his first PGA Tour win. He has positioned himself to make a run for a win in Houston.
“I’ve had some success around here so it’s nice to always come back,” Stefani said. “I know I haven’t played well the last few years, but my game’s in a lot better shape right now. You know you got a lot of
support from your fans, and all your friends and family out here. There’s definitely a lot of positive energy, so that makes it easier.
“I would love to win majors, and want to win majors and more golf tournaments. But if this would be my first tournament win, it would mean the world to me.”
Stroud has shot of day
Chris Stroud failed to make the cut, but the Houstonian did make the shot of the day, holing out from 129 yards for eagle-2 on the par-4 14th hole with a gap wedge.
“It was the first perfect yardage I’d had in two days,” said Stroud, who played the distance at 124 yards. “I flushed it right at it. I couldn’t see it go in but I knew it was right at it, I knew it was close.
“Then everybody put their hand up so I knew it was in. Even though I didn’t make the cut, it was nice to have a little spotlight.”
Stroud had rounds of 71-73 for even-par 144.
“It’s so sad. I absolutely hit it terrible this week, made no putts,” Stroud said. “I had nothing going for me. It’s unfortunate because it’s such a great event and being here in Houston, Hurricane Harvey stuff going on, I wanted to play so well for everybody.
“But at the end of the day, I just putted so poorly. I put too much pressure on my ball striking, I couldn’t do it.”
Mickelson only finds trouble twice
Over the first two rounds Phil Mickelson has played only two of his 36 holes in over par. Unfortunately for Mickelson, they have been a triple bogey and double bogey.
On Friday, after starting his round on No. 10, Mickelson made 7 on the par-4 18th hole. He hit two balls into the water, including his tee shot. On Thursday, it was sand that got the better of Mickelson, who has rounds of 68-71 and is in a share for 42nd. On Thursday, Mickelson double bogeyed the par 3 14th hole.
“That can happen out here because every hole has, it seems, like there’s hazards, water, something left and right,” Mickelson said. “I missed it where you can’t miss it on 18, left. And then you’re not left with any real great option either, because you’re on such a slide-slope for the drop and I ended up making triple.”
Poor start for Ryder
Even though he couldn’t finish his final two holes on Thursday because of darkness, Sam Ryder was at 8 under for the first round and led the field by a stroke.
When he resumed his final two holes early Friday morning to complete his first round, Ryder bogeyed No. 17 and 18 to finish the round at 6-under-par 66.
With approximately 20 minutes before the conclusion of his first round and the start of his second round, Ryder started off poorly in his second round, bogeying his first two holes – No. 10 and 11. That’s four straight bogeys to start Friday for Ryder.
“It was one of those things where I just felt like I couldn’t get my rhythm,” Ryder said. “I tried to hit a couple drivers with my coach in between rounds. “It was just hard when it was cold and not a lot of sleep last night.”
But Ryder turned his second round around with a 68 and after 36 holes has shot 66-68 for 10 under, just 1 shot back of the lead, held by Beau Hossler.