Houston Open delays leave Lowry and McDowell in limbo

Adam McKendry

Shane Lowry (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Adam McKendry

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Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell will have sleepless nights in Houston but for slightly different reasons after the conclusion of round two of the Hewlett Packard Enterprises Houston Open was delayed until Saturday.

The knock-on effect of a two-hour delay on Thursday morning means the afternoon wave of starters in the second round will have to return to complete their back nines on Saturday morning, leaving several players in limbo over their weekend status.
Lowry is among those, with the Clara man finishing his second round at three-over which is currently one shot off the cut mark, however by mid-Saturday morning he could have moved inside the required line to stick around for the weekend.
The former Open champion was among those who had to return to finish his first round on Friday morning, signing for a one-under 69, but upon returning to the course for his second round his form abandoned him in a horror start.
Starting on the back nine, Lowry was immediately on the back foot after two poor chip shots led to a double-bogey on the 13th and then he compounded that when he found the water at the par-four 17th and racked up a triple-bogey to drop to four-over.
It was to his credit that he managed to salvage something from the remainder of his round, a birdie at 18 representing an immediate bounceback, with further birdies at the two par-fives on the front nine, the second and eighth, eventually leading to a three-over 73.
He will need help from those around him to get in for rounds three and four but, with scoring proving something of a mixed bag in Houston, chances are he will be holding off on rearranging his travel plans for the time being.
Meanwhile, McDowell is among those who have their weekend fate in their own hands as one of those who has to return to finish their second round, with the Rathmore man sitting right on the cut mark at one-over.
The 42-year-old, who opened with a two-under 69, was struggling prior to the suspension of play late on Friday night due to darkness, four bogeys and a birdie dropping him over-par, and he will hope that having a night to refresh his game will spark something on Saturday morning.
He has six holes of his round still to complete and he will hope that he can, at the very least, continue his run of four straight pars he had put together before the horn sounded and make it into the weekend.
Unfortunately for Seamus Power, he is certainly too far back to make the weekend after he reached the halfway point of the tournament at five-over following rounds of 75 and 70 at the Country Club of Houston.
The damage was done in a wild first round that included four bogeys, two doubles, a birdie and an eagle and, although he steadied the ship in his second round, he will shift his focus on next week’s RSM Classic in Georgia instead.
Meanwhile, the leader is perhaps one of the unlikeliest candidates in the field, the relatively unknown Martin Trainer holding a one-shot advantage over Kevin Tway at the top after back-to-back rounds of 65 took him to 10-under.
To emphasise how unlikely a leader he is, you need look no further than the fact that Trainer is currently the World No.1310, he only has PGA Tour status through his win at the alternate-event Puerto Rico Open two years ago and has missed the cut in 59 of the 68 events he has played in since.
And yet this week the 30-year-old has found a reserve of form to card just one bogey across his opening two rounds to go with 11 birdies to hold the one-shot lead going into the weekend.
“It is demoralizing when you keep missing cuts over and over again. On Tour obviously it’s tough to even compete and make a cut let alone, you know, get to the top of the leaderboard,” said Trainer.
“It’s been tough at times for me the last couple years not playing well, but now that I figured out a little bit of ball-striking, dropped some putts, it really can turn around that quickly. So I’m just grateful that that’s happening to me this week and hopefully I’ll keep it going.
“There’s always an incentive to play and there’s always that hope that maybe I can find it, but yeah, there’s definitely been times when I haven’t been playing well in the last couple years where I thought about and pondered my future in the game.
“It’s nice to finally have one of these validating performances where all that work actually is paying off.”
While he will definitely be the leader going into Saturday, Trainer may not yet be the leader going into the third round as Jason Kokrak still has eight holes of his second round to complete, is only two shots back at eight-under for the week and is on a bit of a hot streak at six-under for his second round.

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