Fog in the morning and darkness in the afternoon limited play in the 93rd Valero Texas Open, and when play was stopped 51-year-old Padraig Harrington of Ireland and 44-year-old Matt Kuchar shared the clubhouse lead with MJ Daffue of South Africa, Roberto Diaz of Mexico and Patrick Rodgers of Stanford on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas.
Justin Lower held the outright lead on the course at five-under-par through nine holes, while the other four finished at 68 in breezy conditions.
“I’m an optimistic, pretty enthusiastic person,” said Harrington (pictured), who also plays part-time on the PGA Tour Champions and has 36 victories in his career, including three major titles. “I wake up and the minute I hit a golf shot, I’m dreaming I’m going to find the secret. Even though there isn’t one, you’re always hopeful, dreaming. Let’s see if I really am better out there with the kids.
“So I come, I play three European Tour events this year, this is my third PGA Tour event and I’m kind of going: ‘Well, I think I’m better, let’s go and see if I really am better out there with the kids.’ So yeah, it’s nice to show some form.
“(The Masters next week) that’s too far ahead for me to worry about.”
Lower, who has won twice on lower tours but is seeking his first PGA Tour victory, started on the back nine and sank an eight-foot eagle putt on the 14th hole to go with three birdies on his first nine hole, while Harrington, who recently was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, collected six birdies in his 68.
Kuchar made four birdies in his first nine holes en route to a 68, while Daffue bounced back from a double-bogey 6 on the first hole with four birdies and a 14-foot chip-in for an eagle on the last hole in another 68, Diaz had three birdies on each nine in his 68, and Rodgers collected six birdies and a bogey in his 14 holes before play was halted.
“You’re getting way ahead of yourself,” Kuchar said when asked about winning this week and qualifying for the Masters next week. “That’s too far ahead for me to worry about. If you start playing some indifferent golf, this course can jump up and bite you. I was lucky to get away with a couple of loose ones today. For the most part, my game is in some pretty good form and I enjoy this golf course a lot.
“It’s a tough golf course, but I do like it. I think there’s a big effort to just find fairways out here. I’ve always thought I could find fairways, even though today I had a couple wayward. For the most part, you’ve really got to hit every shot that is tested here. If you start playing some indifferent golf, this course can really jump up and bite you. I was lucky to get away with a couple loose ones today, but for the most part games on some pretty good form and I enjoy this golf course a lot.”
Matt Wallace of England, who captured the Corales Puntacana Championship last week for his first PGA Tour victory and 11th as a professional, made six birdies in a 69 and is in a big time for seventh with Nick Taylor of Canada, Garrick Higgo of South Africa, Chez Reavie and Harry Higgs.
Also in the tie for seventh are Will Gordon at three-under par through 13 holes, Corey Conners at a bogey-free three-under through nine, and Hayden Buckley, who started on the back nine and holed a 20-foot eagle putt at No. 14 to go three-under through eight holes.
Defending champion J.J. Spaun of Los Angeles and San Diego State was even par through 11 holes and in a tie for 49th when the end came.
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