(Reuters) – Sam Burns used a fast start and steady finish to grab the second-round lead at the Houston Open on Friday, while Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson were on track to miss the cut in the final tournament before next week’s Masters.
Burns birdied three of his first four holes at Memorial Park Golf Course en route to a bogey-free five-under-par 65 that left him two shots clear of Australian Jason Day (68) and Mexican Carlos Ortiz (68).
“(My caddie) Travis did a great job all day just trying to put us in the right spots and I think we were able to do that for the most part,” said Burns. “That’s the challenging part of this golf course, it takes a lot of discipline around here.
“You get out of position, you just try to get it back to where you can get it up and down or get it in a section of the green where you can lag putt it. Fortunately early we got some good looks and were able to convert, so solid.”
Burns, who is seeking his maiden PGA Tour win, birdied all three par-five holes at Memorial Park, including at the 16th where he drained a 12-foot putt before closing his round with consecutive pars.
World number one Dustin Johnson, in his first event since testing positive for COVID-19 in mid-October, was five shots off the pace after a four-under 66.
“I felt like I played pretty well yesterday, just a little rusty,” said Johnson. “But today (I) did a lot better, hit a lot of really nice iron shots and felt like I managed my game very well, drove it well, hit a lot of quality shots, so very pleased with how I played today.”
Former world number one Spieth (71) suffered a bogey on his final hole that put him one shot outside the projected cut line of three-over before play was suspended due to darkness.
Five-times major champion Mickelson was well outside the projected cut after a roller-coaster 73 that included a quintuple-bogey eight at the par-three ninth and a closing eagle at the par-four 18th where he holed out from 193 yards.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto and Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Ken Ferris)