Kang shoots 63, sets Houston Open 36-hole record

Five-time major victor Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters champion who bungled a repeat bid, begin play Thursday (Friday in Manila) at the PGA Houston Open with the Masters looming next week.

It doesn't hurt that the Golf Club of Houston does its best to emulate conditions players will face next week at Augusta National.

With this week's victor guaranteed a place in the field at Augusta National next week, Andy Sullivan gave himself a chance to earn a Masters return as he opened with a six-birdie 68, while Luke Donald struggled to make much happen as he carded two birdies and one bogey in a workmanlike 71.

But Kang, whose impressive birdie putt run began with a 14-footer at the third, sank another 14-footer at 17 to match the lead before missing a four-foot par putt at the last, an error he blamed on spike marks.

Now at 16 under, Kang has a six-shot lead heading into the weekend.

"I just putted a little better than yesterday, plus I was first off so the greens were really pure and I rolled it really nicely and they kept going in", Kang told Sky Sports 4.

Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion who finished second to Stenson at last year's British Open, could become the oldest Masters victor next week at age 46. Expect for that, I played great.

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"I've probably played it 100 times now it's the one course I continually take notes and I'd rather lose my passport than my Augusta yardage book!" Last week I played good. "(Overall I) putted great today.

John Daly shot a 69 to get into contention at Fallen Oak. "I'll go play. Whatever happens, happens".

"Just playing and going through the process and getting ready makes things a lot easier when you go tee it up Thursday next week".

"I think playing here really helps me get sharp (for the Masters), so I don't have a day like this next Thursday".

Certainly, he is in the right form to launch a challenge for his first major crown. "I like the fact the course is set up similar".

Henrik Stenson, the reigning Open champion, and Lee Westwood will surely both be concerned after crashing out on five-over and, although, a awful forecast for the weekend here will have soothed their disappointment somewhat, as Rose pointed out, "they'd all rather have played well".

Kang had a bogey-free round of his own with eight birdies entering the 18th hole, but a bogey prevented him from owning a share of the lead.

  • Tabitha Byrd