Apr 21st, 2017
Branden Grace sets early pace
But Poulter finds deep trouble in Texas
Words: Keel Timmins Photography: Getty Images
In a make or break week at the Valero Texas Open, Ian Poulter is battling for his PGA Tour career as he slumped to a round of 75, with a missed cut looking increasingly likely.
Poulter, who so often delivers when the pressure is forced upon him, will need a low score on Friday to have any chance of making the cut and keep his Tour card hopes alive.
After blowing a great chance of sealing his card last week at the RBC Heritage, the Ryder Cup star needs to make $30,624 this week, which equates to a solo 36th position or better, to keep his Tour eligibility for the rest of the season.
It was Branden Grace that stole the headlines though, as he blitzed his way to a 66 in the morning session to take the solo lead at TPC San Antonio.
The South African made seven birdies and one bogey en–route to a six–under total to take the lead by one.
It was also a good day for Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koekpa, who both posted opening rounds of 68, leaving them within two shots of the early lead.
But Luke Donald couldn’t keep up his good form after falling to a round of 76 (+4). The Englishman, who finished 2nd last week at Harbour Town, again had trouble with the long game, hitting only 57% of fairways and 44% of greens in regulation.
As for the players we tipped in our preview, Luke List and Sung Kang both had a good day, with List two shots back of Grace and Kang three shots adrift. It wasn’t such good news for Keegan Bradley backers though, as he took a quintuple bogey nine on the par–4 15th hole on the way to shooting a five–over round of 77.