By the time the third round leaders, 2009 British Open Champ, Stewart Cink, and 2012 Norther Trust Open winner, Bill Haas teed on Sunday afternoon at The Shell Houston Open they had to be shell-shocked by the thundering herd of birdies already being made on the somewhat difficult Redstone Golf Course. It seemed everyone was making birdies, and challenging for the lead while they were still on the driving range.
The first to make some noise was Phil Mickelson. Lefty came to play on Sunday, bagging a bevy of birds right out of the gate. In fact he birdied the first four holes before he cooled down, and just made some pars. The eighth hole was Phil’s downfall. No, he didn’t make a bogey there, just par, but he was 3o feet off the green in two on the par five hole, and his chip nearly went in for eagle. He missed the birdie putt coming back, and the par seemed to get under his skin just enough to short-circuit his momentum, and the remainder of his round. He made a couple of birdies on the back nine, but a double at the par three 14th would finish him up at -10 under par, well off the pace.
The best round of the day came from Billy Horschel. The Florida Gator, from Grant, Florida had his round going, and in particular, his putter. Horschel was T 2 in Strokes gained putting at 2.048. He finished tied with Henrik Stenson at -15 under par in second place. Henrik Stenson had a good round as well, getting to the clubhouse to post a -15 under total just before the storms halted play late in the afternoon. Stenson’s second place finish would get him an invitation to Augusta, and end the hopes of Marcel Siem’s bid for a trip to Georgia. Siem won the Troph’ee Hassan II earlier in the day, and his fate would rest on Stinson.
Stewart Cink hung in there all day, but while everyone else was making birdies, Cink was making pars. He didn’t make a birdie until the 11th hole, and after putting up a bogey at 18, he would finish three strokes back in a tie for sixth place. His playing partner, and co-leader, Bill Haas never got on-track, and ended up shooting even par and stayed where he started the day at -11 under par, tied for 10th place.
Youngsters trying to make a name, and grab some status this week, Jason Kokrak, and Monday qualifier Steve Wheatcroft were trampled by the galloping herd. Kokrak hung in there most of the day with the lead at times, but struggled down the stretch. He never got on-track after the rain delay, and put his tee shots on 14, and 18 in the water, The bogey at 14 would set him back, but the double at 18 was a killer. He finished at -12 under par alone in ninth place, and a pretty good paycheck. His buddy, Steve Wheatcroft let the pressure of a Sunday on the PGA Tour get to his nerves. He double bogeyed the first hole, and it didn’t get much better throughout the afternoon. He put a 74 on the scoreboard, and ended up dropping 19 spots into a tie for 22nd place at -8 under par.
If you are a golf fan, the final on Sunday in Houston had to be fun to watch. We had a mix of PGA stars, and newcomers all trying to get a win while Tiger Woods was away, and Rory McIlroy was struggling to re-capture his game. All-in-all I thought it was a great tournament, and am hoping to get a repeat next week in San Antonio.
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