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Lowry and McDowell four shots back after opening round in Houston

Brandt Snedeker has a two-shot lead after day one in Houston.

Lowry: one-under on Thursday (file photo).
Lowry: one-under on Thursday (file photo).
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

SHANE LOWRY AND Graeme McDowell sit four shots off the early lead as they warm up for The Masters at the Houston Open this week.

Lowry had three birdies and two bogeys for an opening round of one-under par 69 at Memorial Park, tied for 16th place in a leaderboard that is tightly bunched behind pace-setter Brandt Snedeker.

McDowell, who clinched his Augusta invite by virtue of his world ranking earlier this year, is also on one-under while Pádraig Harrington is tied for 44th after a one-over par 71.

Snedeker — who has finished in the top 40 only once since the PGA Tour’s Covid-19 shutdown —  said the first spectators at a US tour event since March helped him seize the lead.

 The 39-year-old American fired a five-under par 65 to lead by two shots. 

“Very excited about how I played,” Snedeker said. “Drove it great. Around this golf course you have to be in the fairway, otherwise it’s going to be a long day. Did a great job of that. Made some putts. Birdied every par-5 out there.

“You need to take advantage of the scoring holes, which I did a great job of today.”

 A total of 2,000 spectators are being allowed each day with face masks and social distancing precautions in place.

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 ”That’s a big reason why I played well today — I love having fans out here,” Snedeker said. “I kind of feed off their energy. It’s great to hear some claps and people excited for good shots.”

Australians Jason Day and Cameron Davis, Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz and Americans Scottie Scheffler, Michael Thompson and Harold Varner shared second on 67.

Nine players remained on the course when darkness halted play. The best of them was Norway’s Kristoffer Ventura at 1-under through 16 holes.

See the latest leaderboard here >

© – AFP, 2020

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