Date: March 31, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussies handy in Houston

Aaron Baddeley and Geoff Ogilvy have kept alive their hopes for a last-minute Masters call-up with strong opening rounds at the Houston Open.

Alongside countryman Adam Scott, the Victorian pair each fired four-under-par rounds of 68 on the Golf Club of Houston’s Tournament Course to sit four behind leader Rickie Fowler.

The American was near flawless to lead by two with eight blemish-free birdies including a near hole-out for an ace on the ninth, his final hole.

Korean Sung Kang pushed to seven under late to cap a day of brilliant scoring with no fewer than 85 players in red numbers by day’s end.

For those yet to qualify for next week’s Masters, Houston represents the last chance to earn a start in the year’s first major – and of the 10-strong Aussie contingent, only Scott has firm plans for Augusta.

Baddeley and Ogilvy are in a share of 13th, while 2014 champion Matt Jones is also in the mix at T44 at two under.

Cameron Smith sits alongside Phil Mickelson at even par in T86, but the others have work to do with Greg Chalmers, John Senden and Steve Bowditch all at two over, while veterans Robert Allenby (+5) and twice champion Stuart Appleby (+7) already are in trouble.