Andrew Loupe flashed up the leaderboard on day one of the Shell Houston Open, recording a 4-under-par 32-36=68 to find himself four strokes off the torrid pace set by Rickie Fowler.
The LSU product has struggled since returning from a thumb injury that sidelined him during the fall. He looked like normal Loupe today, the same Loupe who is known for his fast starts (six career leads/co-leads after round one). His flat stick was sizzling today, splashing home four birdie putts from outside 10 feet, including a 34'9" bomb at the par-3 seventh. Regardless of how Loupe finishes the week, this round is very promising the Loupe fans and/or gamers who own him in long-term formats.
Jason Dufner blitzed the back nine at the Golf Club of Houston en route to a 4-under-par 36-32=68 during round one of the Shell Houston Open.
Dufner didn't have his best stuff off the tee, finding just nine fairways on the day. However, he managed 12 greens in regulation and then caught fire with the flat stick on his way into the clubhouse. The putting show started with a 12'10" birdie at the par-3 seventh. He would go on to add four more putts from outside nine feet, walking off the course with 2.54 strokes putting. Usually known for his shaky putting, that hasn't been the case early this season, ranked 42nd in strokes gained putting so far. With five top 25s in seven starts this season, Dufner should be one to watch all week in Humble, Texas.
Aaron Baddeley raced out to a bogey-free, 4-under-par 33-35=68 during round one of the Shell Houston Open, positioning himself near the top of the leaderboard on Thursday.
The Aussie turned in a blemish-free card today, but it wasn't a walk in the park. Baddeley split 10 (of 14) fairways and landed 14 greens but also needed two putts from 9-to-13 feet to keep his clean card intact. His ball-striking highlight came early on when he wedged his approach to 2 inches for a tap-in birdie at the par-4 first. The 36-year-old arrived with missed cuts in each of his last three visits to the Golf Club of Houston, but he's positioned nicely after day one.
Kevin Streelman rebounded from an early bogey to record a 4-under-par 35-33=68 in round one of the Shell Houston Open, finding himself four stroke off the torrid pace set by Rickie Fowler.
Streelman missed a 4'1" par-saving attempt at the second hole, but quickly adjusted to the greens and maintained a clean card from that point on. He would later add four birdie splashes from outside 11 feet. The clear highlight was a 42'5" birdie bomb at the par-5 15th. In his 17th lap around here, this matches Streelman's career low at the Golf Club of Houston (R2/2012). The 38-year-old has alternated top-20 finishes over his last five starts, and could be in for another one this week if that trend continues.
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. UPDATE: Bradley was later passed by current leader Rickie Fowler who fired an 8-under 64.
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. UPDATE: Taylor was later passed by current leader Rickie Fowler who fired an 8-under 64.
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.