Rookie Steele among rare 7-way tie at Texas Open

Posted April 15, 2011, at 9:13 p.m.
Last modified April 15, 2011, at 10:57 p.m.

SAN ANTONIO — PGA Tour rookie Brendan Steele wrangled the winds and nearly emerged at the Texas Open solely atop the leaderboard.

But on the tour’s toughest day in years, no one got off that easy.

Steele carried the lead before double-bogeying on the par-4 15th, then blew a chance to reclaim it by missing a 6-footer for birdie on the final hole, keeping him in a rare seven-way tie atop the leaderboard at 3 under Friday.

That is tied for the second-most crowded leaderboard in the PGA Tour after 36 holes since 1970. Strong winds prevented anyone from breaking out, and Friday’s average round of 75.289 was the highest on the tour since the 2008 British Open.

“I got pretty beat up out there,” Steele said. “I think we all kind of did.”

After missing what would’ve been his fifth birdie, Steele tapped in on No. 18 to finish at par 72. He shared the lead at 141 with Geoff Ogilvy (72), Rich Beem (70), Kevin Sutherland (70), Charley Hoffman (73), Brandt Snedeker (72) and Kevin Chappell (73).

A day that began with 5 under leading the pace was undone by winds that whipped higher than 30 mph. Players helplessly watched tee shots sail into the woods, and just 13 players shot under par Friday after there were 50 sub-par scores in the opening round.

Defending champion Adam Scott followed his opening-round 68 with a 74. But on a day like this, 2 over was good enough to leave the Masters runner-up and three others just a stroke back.

“I can’t imagine anyone really running away with it,” Scott said.

A seven-way tie after 36 holes hasn’t been seen on the tour since the 1977 Westchester. The record was an eight-way tie at the 2001 Greater Hartford Open.

Beem, playing the tour on a major medical extension, had not only a share of the lead but made his first cut since the Houston Open last year. He missed the next six months after undergoing surgery for a bulging disc in his neck.

Beem, whose home in Austin is just north of TPC San Antonio, bogeyed just one hole and finished his final nine shooting par or better.

Cochran leads Outback by 2

LUTZ, Fla. — Russ Cochran isn’t hitting his driver well. You would just never know it by his first-round score at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am.

Cochran shot a 7-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead over John Cook and Jay Don Blake at the Champions Tour event even though the 52-year-old lefthander hit only 10 of 14 fairways and averaged just 270 yards off the tee.

“I came over here and played in the pro-am (Thursday) and didn’t really drive it that well,” Cochran said. “Hit it in the water two or three times and just didn’t feel as good over (the ball).”

“I was teasing my pro-am partners yesterday. They were going to see a personal record of me hitting it in the hazard, I thought.”

Though Cochran wasn’t hazard free, he somehow managed a bogey-free round, starting it with birdies on Nos. 10-12.

His drive on No. 12 landed in the rough and his second shot found a greenside bunker. But Cochran hit a wedge to about 18 inches for a tap-in birdie.

Those first three holes gave him confidence and a cushion.

Cook and Blake shot 66s and were a stroke ahead of Kenny Perry, who birdied five holes on his back nine after shooting 1 over on the front, making his Outback Pro-Am debut in his third Champions Tour tournament.

“I knew I needed to make birdies,” Perry said. “I always thought people always would tell me, ’8 under is going to win the tournament.’ Well, Russ is already 7 (under), you know, so I’m thinking that’s not going to work here.

“I’ve got to figure out a way to get close and stay in the mix a little bit,” Perry said. “I can’t get too far behind here, so (I’m) very excited with the start.”

McIlroy shares lead

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Rory McIlroy is rebounding quite nicely after his collapse in the final round of the Masters.

The 21-year-old from Northern Ireland shot an 8-under 64 in the rain-shortened second round of the Malaysian Open on Friday and shares the lead with Alexander Noren of Sweden at 11-under 133. Nore had a 69 to go with his first-round 64.

Play at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club was halted for nearly three hours before it resumed. Later, it was suspended because of thunder and lightning.

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was among 77 players who failed to complete their rounds. Play is scheduled to resume Saturday.

McIlroy led last week’s Masters for 63 holes before a back nine of 43 crushed his hopes of winning a major tournament.

He said he’s in “great position” heading into the weekend.

“It helps when you have a morning tee time here as you are up pretty early,” McIlroy said of Friday’s round. “I went out and played well, and holed a couple of putts. I’ve been driving the ball pretty good, which you need to around here.”

Simon Dyson of England was one stroke off the lead after shooting a 64, while top-ranked Martin Kaymer of Germany was eight strokes back after a 71.

Noren struggled with the tropical weather.

“I had 14 great holes, but the heat got to me and I was just counting how many holes I had left,” he said.

 

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