Hoffman ahead at Houston Open

Charley Hoffman carded an eight-under-par 64 to take a one-shot lead at the Houston Open on Thursday. 

Hoffman is closely followed by Dustin Johnson, Roberto Castro, Scott Brown and Morgan Hoffmann who fired seven-under-par 65s.

World number two Jordan Spieth is three strokes off the lead in a tie for 10th after hitting a five-under-par 67, while Rickie Fowler is in a tie for 32nd and trails Hoffman by five strokes.

Hoffman, who won just one of his three matches at the WGC-Dell Match Play last week, began with a holed 16-foot birdie putt at the 10th before making a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th to 14th.

Despite recording a bogey at the 16th, which was his only blemish of the round, Hoffman rebounded on his back nine with four consecutive birdies from the first to fourth, including a chip-in from a green-side bunker at the first. He went on to conclude his round with a birdie at the eighth. The 39-year-old is now in prime position to claim the final qualifying spot for next week’s Masters.

Johnson began with three birdies – including a holed 29-foot birdie putt at the 12th – and a bogey on his front nine. The American’s fortunes took a turn for the better on the closing nine as he notched up an eagle at the par-five eighth to go with four birdies and a bogey.

Castro’s round consisted of seven birdies, the highlight of which was a 27-foot birdie putt at the 12th, while Brown also registered seven birdies, three of which came in a row from the sixth to eighth. Hoffmann meanwhile made seven birdies, two bogeys and an incredible eagle from 76 yards at the par-five fourth.

Spieth kicked off his round in style as he made a 48-yard chip-in birdie from the right fairway before going on to make three more  birdies to take the turn in 32. The 22-year-old was unable to maintain his momentum on his back nine though as he missed a 10-foot par putt to record a bogey at the 10th, but atoned for his mistake with consecutive birdies at the 14th and 15th.

Fowler fired a three-under-par 69 and looked in good form throughout his round as he made five birdies. However, his hopes of a strong finish were dashed when he registered a double bogey at the par-four 18th after his tee shot fell into the water.

The tournament is without its defending champion, J.B. Holmes, who withdrew on Wednesday due to a shoulder injury.

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