Bettencourt, Tomasulo share lead at Texas Open
Matt Bettencourt and Peter Tomasulo shot 5-under 67s to take a surprising share of the lead after the first round.
San Antonio: Matt Bettencourt and Peter Tomasulo shot 5-under 67s to take a surprising share of the lead after the first round of the Texas Open on Thursday, holding off a field that includes world No. 2 Rory McIlroy.
The two took advantage of warmer and calmer afternoon conditions and held a one-stroke lead over a group of four players - including three-time major winner Padraig Harrington - at 4 under.
Harrington and Billy Horschel shared the lead following the morning tee times, battling chilly and windy conditions. They were joined by Bryce Molder and Harris English at 4 under in the afternoon.
McIlroy, who entered the tournament as a final opportunity to prepare for next week's Masters, opened with a 72 and is tied for 45th. Playing in the final group of the day, Tomasulo posted the only bogey-free round of the day. Entering the tournament on a medical exemption following a rib injury two years ago, he closed with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th.
Bettencourt made the tournament as an alternate after Henrik Stenson withdrew. He had a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour after winning the Reno-Tahoe Open in 2010, but it ended at the end of last season. He had bounced between the PGA and Web.com tours this season, making only one cut in five events.
Bettencourt played like anything but a journeyman on Thursday, crediting a recent medication change in helping to control his asthma and jitters that resulted from other inhalers. His lone bogey came on No. 4, and he took the lead from Harrington with a birdie on No. 17.
Harrington, the former British Open and PGA Championship winner from Ireland, overcame the chilly temperatures to go as low as 5 under before finishing with a bogey on No. 18. He began his day with four layers of clothing to stay warm as the Texas winds whipped in from the north.
McIlroy, meanwhile, continued the up-and-down play that has plagued him throughout the year and cost him the No. 1 ranking to Tiger Woods. He was 2 under early in his round, which began on difficult No. 10, but he found the water on the par-5 18th when his approach came up short.
That began a stretch of three straight bogeys, and he missed a 7-foot par putt on No. 9 to fall back to even par.
While McIlroy struggled, Horschel continued to show the form that led to a second-place finish at last week's Houston Open. He jumped from 60th to 24th on the money list following last week's performance, and he tied Harrington on Thursday with a final-hole birdie on No. 9.
Horschel had six birdies, including a stretch of four in five holes midway through the round, and he did so despite hitting only seven of 14 fairways. He and Harrington had just 25 putts each, while McIlroy needed 31. Ten players, including Jim Furyk, are two shots back of the lead at 3 under.