Haas, Hoffman share PGA Houston lead
Bill Haas of the US points on the ninth tee box during round one of the Shell Houston Open, at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas, on April 3, 2014 - by Scott Halleran
Haas's round on Thursday was highlighted by an eagle at the par-five fourth hole at the Golf Club of Houston. He added six birdies and one bogey while Hoffman had seven birdies and no bogeys as the two afternoon starters took a one-shot lead over Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, J.B. Holmes, Erik Compton and Jim Renner.
Kuchar hit all 18 greens in regulation on his way to a bogey-free six-under 66.
Bradley also played without a bogey -- as did the other two players in his group, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and former US Open champion Webb Simpson.
"It was the first time I remember that happening, certainly in my career," Mickelson said. "Not to have any bogeys in the group is pretty special."
The group teed off on 10, and Bradley, a former US PGA Championship winner who notched a runner-up finish at Bay Hill last month, nabbed his first birdie of the day at the 13th, then added three in a row from the 15th.
"I hadn't been making any putts, and it seems like the putter just kind of woke up right about now, which is really a good time of year for it to do that," said Bradley, who is among many in the field using this tournament to hone their games for the first major of the year, the Masters at Augusta National next week.
After the group of five players sharing third place on 66, another 10 players were tied on five-under 67, a group that included 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, 2009 British Open winner Stewart Cink and Spain's Sergio Garcia.
Simpson and Mickelson were among a big group on 68. Mickelson, who will be seeking a fourth Masters green jacket next week, got his final tune-up off to a solid start.
He said the injury to his right oblique muscle, which had forced him to withdraw from the Texas Open last week, had responded well to treatment.
"I feel a lot better four or five days later," Mickelson said. "It doesn't hurt anymore. It just feels sore as opposed to a kind of painful experience."