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Golf | US PGA Tour

Jeff Maggert © Gallo Images

Maggert leads weather-hit Houston Open



American Jeff Maggert birdied three of his last eight holes to grab a one-shot lead when the weather-delayed second round of the Houston Open was finally completed in Humble, Texas, on Saturday.

One of 70 players still out on the course when play was halted in fading light on Friday, Maggert carded a six-under-par 66 to post a 12-under total of 132 at the rain-softened Redstone Golf Club in the final tune-up event before next week's Masters.

The 48-year-old American, a three-times winner on the PGA Tour, briefly got to 13 under with a birdie at the eighth but he then three-putted to bogey his final hole, the par-three ninth.

Britain's Brian Davis (65), South African Louis Oosthuizen (66) and American James Driscoll (66) were tied for second at 11 under with defending champion Phil Mickelson (70) among a group of six players a further two strokes back.

Maggert was delighted to be at the top of the leaderboard after missing the cut in his previous five starts on the PGA Tour.

"The ball-striking has probably been the key," he told reporters after carding seven birdies and one bogey. "I've been hitting the ball really well this week, a lot of shots close to the hole where I'm not having to make 15, 20-footers for birdie.

"The greens are really rolling nice this week. I've got pretty good confidence right now after making quite a few putts the last two days so I'm looking forward to this afternoon."

More than an inch of rain saturated the course on Thursday and tournament organisers allowed the players to lift, clean and replace their balls in the delayed second round.

Asked how he had managed to regain form after his run of missed cuts, Maggert replied: "It's a strange game. I started the year playing really well... then just had a little stretch there where I wasn't hitting it that great.

"Instead of being 15 feet from the hole, I am putting from 30 and 40 feet and three-putting. But this week I have certainly turned it around."

Three-times major winner Ernie Els, who needs to win the Houston Open to qualify for next week's Masters, was at five-under 139 after shooting a 69.

The cut fell at two under with former British Open winners Darren Clarke, Stewart Cink and Ben Curtis, as well as Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, among those who failed to advance.

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