Wise, Finau, Noren Share First-Round Lead in the 75th Houston Open at 65

Aaron Wise’s only victory on the PGA Tour came in the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson, but he seems to be getting his game in order.

The 26-year-old Wise (pictured), who grew up in Lake Elsinore after his family moved from South Africa when he was 3, carded a bogey-free, 5-under 65 in the first round of the 75th Cadence Bank Houston Open to tie for the lead with Tony Finau and Alex Noren of Sweden at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston.

Tyson Alexander also was at 5-under through 17 holes when darkness halted play for the day.

“I’ve just been in a weird place with my game where I’m obviously playing well enough to shoot good scores, but there’s just a couple shots a round that are frustrating me,” said Wise, who played college golf at Oregon and has 13 top-25 finishes this year.

“Maybe it’s also just because it’s late in the season and I’ve played too much golf, and that’s just kind of how golf gets. I have time to go clean some stuff up before the round tomorrow and hopefully play a little more solid, even though I would take the score (65) again if you would give it to me.

“I had a couple great saves to shoot bogey-free. Today, it was bogey-free on the card, but it didn’t feel stress-free.”

Wise, who also won the 2017 Air Capital Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour and the 2016 Syncrude Oil Country Championship on the PGA Tour Canada, birdied four straight birdies through No. 6 and added a final birdie at No. 17.

Finau sank a 60-foot eagle putt on the second hole to kick-start his 65, which included five birdies on the front nine plus a birdie and bogey on the back side, while Noren made a bogey on the first hole before reeling off five birdies on the front nine and had two more plus a bogey coming home.

“It’s a tough golf course to play because you have to hit the fairways to give you a chance to keep the ball on the greens because of the runoffs,” said Finau, whose victories in the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic this year give him four on the PGA Tour. “It’s very tough to get up-and-down if you miss the green.

“That 60-footer really got me going on my way and I played solid, but not spectacular on the back nine. Still, I played well enough to put myself near the top of the leaderboard. I go out early tomorrow morning and just want to keep it going this week, all the way through the weekend.”

Said Noren, who has won 11 times on what is now the DP World Tour but never on the PGA Tour: “I made bogeys early on both nines, but played well other than that. I was a little bit nervous coming into today. I didn’t feel great in practice, but found something early and got the irons going a lot better. So yeah,  it was good.”

Alexander, a rookie who has won five times on lower tours, made three birdies on the front nine and was bogey-free when he hit his drive on the par-5 finishing hole into the rough before the end came.

David Lipsky, from Los Angeles who is a four-time winner on lower tours, birdied five of the first eight holes en route to a 66 and is in a big tie for fifth with Wyndham Clark, Mackenzie Hughes of Canada, Max McGreevy, Keith Mitchell and Taylor Pendrith of Canada.

Zack Fisher was 4-under through 17 holes and also in the tie for fifth along with Ben Taylor, who was 4-under through 16 after making five consecutive birdies.

Second-ranked Scottie Scheffler, who can regain the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings from Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland this week by winning or finishing second, birdied three of the last eight holes to salvage a 70 and is tied for 53rd.

For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

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