Padraig Harrington carded a two-under par round of 70 to sit in a tie for 13th place after the opening day’s play of the Valero Texas Open.
Starting on the back-nine on the San Antonio course, the Dubliner stitched his approach to under four-feet for a first birdie of the day before failing to get up and down from a green-side bunker off the par-3 13th to go back to even par. Harrington was back in the red when he holed for birdie from 12-feet on the par-3 16th and picked up two more birdies around the turn to be three-under on the day standing on the fifth tee, his 14th of the round.
On the fringe grass just 16 feet from the cup, Harrington failed to get up and down from nowhere, dropping a shot before getting it back immediately by holing a birdie putt at the par-4 sixth to get back to minus-three. The three-time Major winner holed a 15-footer for par at 7, didn’t manage to birdie the par-5 eighth, his penultimate hole of the day, before again failing to get up and down from the edge of the green, this time at the ninth, a final hole bogey seeing him fall back to two-under and six shots off Camilo Villegas’ lead.
After some good scoring on Thursday, Graeme McDowell will need much better than his two-over 74 if he’s to feature over the weekend. Riding high off the back of a tied-fourth result last week at the Corales Puntacana Championship, the 41-year old was one-under par through six holes before dropping three shots over the course of his final twelve to sit in a tie for 80th at plus-two.
Its Villegas who sets the early pace after firing nine birdies in his opening 64 that leads Sung Kang and Cameron Tringale by two shots atop the board.
“Some days the hole is a little bit big and that was the case today,” said Villegas. “I played really good, but I also got a couple nice breaks. Made a couple good par saves and overall it was very solid. Obviously you don’t shoot 8 under not playing good. No, I’m excited. I like this place. But it’s only Thursday, so we’ve just got to keep patient, keep doing what we’re doing and have fun out there.”
As for his own form of late, that shows a top-10 at the Honda squeezed between missed cuts at The Arnie and Puntacana, the Colombian added, “It’s just golf. We’re focused on the process. The last few years I’ve been up and down with many things, but you know what? We keep showing up to Bear’s Club and put in hours and have fun with the process. Then the results start showing up. I played nicely at Honda a couple weeks ago and hopefully we can build off that and keep playing like I did today.”
Full scoring HERE