Golf

Houston Open: Day One round-up

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Padraig Harrington might be left to rue missed chances after day one of the Houston Open.

Three-time major winner Harrington has to win the tournament in order to qualify for next week's US Masters. And, his faint hopes are still alive after shooting 69 - leaving him three under par at the Golf Club of Houston.

The 42-year old Dubliner began his round on the 10th and opened with a birdie before picking up another shot on the 13th.

A bogey on the 14th was was forgotten quickly after consecutive birdies on the 17th and 18th, as he found himself on 33 at the turn and in a position to strike at the top of the leaderboard.

Again, Harrington made amends after making a bogey on the third with two quick birdies on the fourth and sixth, which left the former Ryder Cup star in a great position on the leaderboard.

However, a disappointing bogey on his final hole will have disappointed Harrington, but he can be encouraged at being only four shots behind clubhouse leaders Charley Hoffmann and Bill Haas.

Joint leader Haas finished his round almost perfectly after playing through the last six holes in five under with an eagle and three birdies. He puts the good scores after day one down to the greens.

"The greens are absolutely perfect," Haas told reporters after his round.

"I think the scores are reflective on that. They were a little slower, but part of that, too, is the weather. It was like a little dewy mist out there all day, which played a part in the speed of the greens."

Open champion Phil Mickelson also got off to a good start despite being a doubt for the tournament last week. The 43-year old pulled a muscle in his side at the Valero Texas Open, but the left-hander showed no signs of injury ahead of next week's Masters.

Mickelson believes that the speed of treatment after occurring the injury proved to be vital, and he shot a first round 68 to put himself in the mix.

"I travel with a light therapy machine, and I got on it right away," he said.

"I think that made a world of difference as far as expediting the healing process to where it doesn't hurt any more. It just feels sore like I was working out, as opposed to kind of a painful experience.

"I'm surprised because I was worried when it happened about the Masters. I was certainly worried about Houston, but it healed a lot quicker. I felt great today. I didn't feel any pain or discomfort and didn't even think about it."

After a day when 96 of the 144 starters broke par, Sergio Garcia was the leading European player, shooting a five-under 67. Henrik Stenson, who would replace Tiger Woods as world number one with a victory at Houston, scored a 71.

Northern Irishman and world number seven Rory McIlroy finished two under after an opening of 70.

McIlroy is the bookies favourite for next weeks Masters, and he wrote on Twitter: "Solid, if unspectacular start here in Houston. Really happy with my form from tee to green... Hole a few more putts and I'll be right there!"

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Topics:
US Masters
Golf
Phil Mickleson

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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