Sam Burns went to the top of the leaderboard in the Vivint Houston Open and shared the credit with caddie Travis Perkins.
The 24-year-old Burns, playing in the morning wave, carded a bogey-free, 7-under-par 65 to take a two-stroke lead over Jason Day of Australia and Carlos Ortiz of Mexico after two rounds at Memorial Golf Course in Houston, which is hosting the tournament for the first time since 1963.
“Yeah, I think Travis did a great job all day just trying to put us in the right spots, and I think we were able to do that for the most part,” said Burns, whose only pro victory came in the 2017 Savannah Golf Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour, and who tied for seventh in the Safeway Open to start this season. “I think that’s the challenging part of this golf course, it takes a lot of discipline around here. You get out of position, you just try to get it back to where you can get it up and down or get it in a section of the green where you can lag putt it. Fortunately early we got some good looks and was able to convert, so solid.
“Yeah, I think (being in contention in the Safeway taught me about) slowing down a little bit, really talking through the shot with Travis and making sure we have a clear picture of what we’re trying to do, I think that was really helpful to learn that.”
Burns made birdies on four of the first eight holes and added one more at No. 16 while recording a 36-hole score of 7-under 133.
Day, who has been battling back and neck injuries, made two birdies coming home for a 68, while Ortiz made three birdies on the front nine and another at No. 16 while also shooting 68.
“If you miss the fairway it’s difficult to get it close from the Bermuda rough, it’s just so penal,” said Day, who made his only bogey on the sixth hole. “On most holes, you just have to play smart, take your two putts and move on.
“It’s a course where you just can’t be real aggressive, you want to get off to a good start, but have to stay patient.”
Brandt Snedeker, who led after the first round at 65, made his only two birdies of the day while finishing on the front nine to salvage a 71 and is three shots back in a tie for fourth with Dawie van der Walt of South Africa (66), Corey Conners of Canada (67), Patton Kizzire (67) and Aaron Wise of Lake Elsinore (66).
Adam Scott of Australia, the 2007 Houston Open champion, shot 69 and is four down in a tie for ninth with J.T. Poston (67), Sepp Straka of Austria (69), Scott Brown (68) and Talor Gooch (69).
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson made birdies on the last two holes for a 66 and is in a tie for 14th that includes reigning Open champion Shane Lowry of Ireland, who had a 69, while 10th-ranked Tyrrell Hatton of England is tied for 36th after a 70.
Former No. 1 Brooks Koepka, coming back from hip and knee injuries, is tied for 46th following a 70, defending champion Lanto Griffin totaled 71 and made the cut on the number in a tie for 60th, while Phil Mickelson, the 2011 Houston winner, missed the cut by six strokes after finishing at 76-73—149.
Mickelson holed out from 193 yards for an eagle on the last hole and will head to Augusta National early to prepare for the Masters next week.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html