Kang shoots 63, sets Houston Open 36-hole record


02 April, 2017

South Korea's Sung Kang powered into a commanding lead as a number of potential Masters contenders suffered an early exit from the Shell Houston Open.

Kang drained a 30-foot putt for eagle on his penultimate hole, the par-five eighth, to go along with seven birdies for a nine-under-par 63 that tied the course record at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas.

"I always hit it long and straight enough, but I always have trouble with iron play and also putting", Kang added.

The American ended his day in style, very almost grabbing a hole-in-one at the 230-yard par-three ninth, his ball rolling past the edge of the cup before settling five feet away, setting up a birdie. Kang is also pursuing his first tour victory, with his best previous finish being a third-place showing at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in 2011, his first ever start in a PGA Tour event.

Beginning his first round at the 10th hole, the 26-year-old schooled at Rotorua Boys' High opened with a bogey five before immediately grabbing that shot back with a birdie three at the 11th.

Rickie Fowler enters his seventh Masters Tournament with the knowledge that if he's leading after three rounds, he now has some history of bringing it home for a victory.

"Plus I teed off the first off, and the greens are just pure, nobody really had [walked on] them".

Two-time major winner Jordan Spieth and fellow American Jimmy Walker, the 2016 PGA Championship winner, were on 69, while five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who won at Houston in 2011, opened on 72 and Sweden's Henrik Stenson, the reigning British Open champion, was on 74.

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As it stands now with the afternoon wave still more than an hour from concluding, the cut is at even par and Spieth finds himself in a tie for 97th.

The 18-year-old Norda's big sister, 24-year-old Jessica, is in the hunt at 3-under 141.

Behind Fowler and Kang, former Florence resident Stewart Cink, Jhonattan Vegas and Kyle Stanley all shot 6-under 66.

Half of the field in the LPGA Tour's first major of the year was still on the course when play was stopped.

Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion who finished second to Stenson at last year's British Open, could become the oldest Masters victor next week at age 46. He's finished in the top 10 in two of four events, including a sixth-place finish at the Allianz Championship in February.

"My experience is if I try to do something and think about the result it doesnt work out very well, so Im taking it one shot at a time and the results will come", he said.

Durant's impressive first round continues a solid start to his PGA Champions Tour season.

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