Leishman in four-way tie for lead at interrupted Houston Open

By Sports Desk November 11, 2021

Marc Leishman is in a four-way tie for the Houston Open lead following an interrupted start at the PGA Tour event.

Play was suspended due to darkness on Thursday, with a number of players yet to complete their opening rounds in Houston.

Leishman – making his first Houston Open start since 2013 – got through his 18 holes and the Australian star carded a five-under-par 65 at Memorial Park Municipal Golf Course.

Russell Henley – winner of the tournament in 2017, Talor Gooch and Luke List are also five under, though the latter was the only member of the quartet still to complete his round, having made it through 15 holes.

"Probably for about six months I feel like I've been playing OK, just not getting anything out of it," Leishman said. "It can be a crazy game, it can get you down and you can play really well and not have a good score and play mediocre golf and have a really good score.

"You have to try and not let that get to you. I think a fresh season, a new start was pretty good for me. Got me to knuckle down and just really focus and been playing some good golf."

Jason Dufner is one stroke off the pace heading into Friday, while Keith Mitchell, Ben Silverman, Jhonattan Vegas (through 13), Wyndham Clark (through 13), Adam Long (through 11) and Martin Trainer (through 11) are a shot further back.

Former world number one Jason Day completed 11 holes to be even par before play was cut short, alongside four-time major champion Brooks Koepka (through nine).

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    Jon Rahm said "everything was difficult" on day two at the US PGA Championship, but matters could hardly have been more different for Justin Thomas.

    Rahm, one of the pre-tournament favourites, endured a difficult opening round at Southern Hills Country Club but the Spaniard responded with a respectable, one under par 69 on Friday.

    That leaves the world number two on two over par, which should just see him sneak over the cut line. Former world number one Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, is unlikely to be so fortunate, having carded a second successive 73.

    Rahm conceded that he has found it tough going so far, though he was nevertheless happy with his second round.

    "I can't say I played bad. I gave myself a lot of chances," said Rahm, who balanced out two bogeys with three birdies.

    "I think the main thing yesterday was a couple of mistakes, just mental mistakes. There was three; one on eight, skulling that chip. Should have made something better than a six on 13 with a five-iron in my hands. And putting it on dry land on 17.

    "Those are three shots that I could have done better and I could be at one under right now, and that was just strictly mental.

    "Today I can't ask much more of myself. It was a good day, it was good golf. Just tough. And I played really good to show one under."

    One player thriving in the tough conditions in Oklahoma is Thomas, who took the lead off Rory McIlroy with another round of 67, replicating his score from Thursday.

    Thomas' sole major triumph so far came at the US PGA Championship in 2017, and the American looks well-placed to push on after heading into the clubhouse on six under through his two rounds, putting the pressure right back on overnight leader McIlroy, who bogeyed his second hole on Friday to drop two shots off the new leader.

    "Very pleased. I felt I played, although I played solid yesterday, I played really, really well today," said Thomas.

    "The conditions were obviously very difficult. I stayed very patient, tried to get in my own little world and get in a zone and just tried to execute each shot the best I could.

    "I felt we did a great job of that and am glad to have a good round to show for it."

    Thomas only slipped up once, on the 14th, but made four birdies, but the 29-year-old is wary not to get ahead of himself.

    "I like this golf course. I feel like I'm playing well," he continued. "We're halfway through so it's still a long way from home, but I'm very, very pleased with where everything is at and the frame of mind and state of mind that I'm in.

    "Just need to try to maintain that the best that I can and keep trying to play good golf."

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    Tiger Woods says Rory McIlroy "made it look very easy" after the Northern Irishman set the early pace on day one of the US PGA Championship.

    Seeking a first major in eight years, McIlroy carded five-under 65 to take a one-shot lead into the clubhouse at Southern Hills on Thursday.

    The 33-year-old, who won this event in 2012 and 2014, closed with a birdie on the final hole – his seventh of the day – to put himself in strong contention for another title.

    He teed off in a marquee group alongside Jordan Spieth and Woods, who carded 74 and 72 respectively, with the latter impressed by what he saw from McIlroy.

    "Obviously you can shoot something in the mid-60s, Rory proved that today," Woods told Sky Sports. "He made it look very easy. 

    "He had a couple of shots where he slipped away and he still shot five under and made it look very easy."

    McIlroy, who finished second in last month's Masters after shooting a record-equalling eight-under 64 on the final day, is not getting carried away just yet.

    "I came in here knowing that my game was in good shape," McIlroy said. "So it's just a matter of going out there and executing the shots that you know that you can.

    "Today I did that very well and I just need to try to replicate that tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday and not get ahead of myself, but it was a great start."

    While McIlroy is in a strong position, Woods faces an uphill battle to make the cut, as he did at the Masters last month, but he is not giving up hope of a big recovery on Friday.

    "It can be done, I've witnessed it first-hand, so hopefully I can put together something similar tomorrow and get myself back in this tournament," he said.

    The 15-time major winner is competing in just his second tournament since sustaining serious leg and foot injuries in a car accident 15 months ago.

    Woods felt some discomfort towards the end of an erratic opening round, which ended with him nine strokes behind McIlroy.

    "Physically, I've felt better," he told Sky Sports. "Emotionally, I've actually felt better too. 

    "It was frustrating. I got off to a great start today, I did exactly what I needed to do starting out the round, but I did not keep it going.

    "I hit a lot of bad iron shots, put myself in a lot of bad spots and never really gave myself any birdie putts. 

    "I actually felt comfortable with the driver, I hit a lot of fairways with it, but from there it wasn't very good. Most of my bunker shots I hit were long, came out hotter than I thought. 

    "But predominately I just hit bad iron shots. That's not normally how I play, but today unfortunately that's kind of what it was."

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