Weather: Sunny with a high of 86. Wind S/SE 10-20 mph.
Eighty-one players out of 144 professionals made the 36-hole cut at even-par 144 or better. With more than 78 players making the 36-hole cut, a 54-hole cut will take place (70 players and ties).
Sung Kang 65-63—128 (-16)
Hudson Swafford 67-67—134 (-10)
Russell Henley 67-67—134 (-10)
Rickie Fowler 64-71—135 (-9)
Sung Kang carded seven birdies and an eagle on Friday for a 9-under-par 63 to take the 36-hole lead at 16-under-par at the Shell Houston Open, six shots ahead of Hudson Swafford and Russell Henley. His 128-total broke the 36-hole tournament record by one (129 – Curtis Strange/1980, Blaine McCallister/1993) and tournament course-record by three (132 – Johnson Wagner/2008, Jeff Maggert/2012, Andrew Putnam/2015).
Kang’s six-stroke advantage heading into the weekend is the largest 36-hole lead on PGA TOUR this season (Five strokes/Justin Thomas – Sony Open in Hawaii).
Kang broke the record for largest 36-hole lead in tournament (four strokes – Curtis Strange/Woodlands West/1980; Mike Donald/Woodlands TPC/1989, Jeff Maggert/Woodlands TPC/1991) and course (three strokes – Johnson Wagner/2008) history.
Kang’s 9-under-par 63 on Friday tied the tournament course record (Johnson Wagner/2008, Adam Scott/2008, Jimmy Walker/2011, Phil Mickelson/2011, Scott Piercy/2015).
Kang made an eagle putt on the par-5 eighth hole from 30’5” to reach 16-under-par. He made six putts outside of 20 feet on Friday for a new ShotLink record (since 1983).
Kang made 196’8” of putts in the second round, the third most in tournament history and 50 feet more than his previous best.
Kang, making his 95th career start on TOUR, has never held the outright lead after two rounds or won on TOUR. He held a share of the 36-hole lead at the 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and finished tied for 17th.
Kang’s 63 in the second round ties the Tournament Course record (GC of Houston), held by Johnson Wagner (2008), Adam Scott (2008), Jimmy Walker (2011), Phil Mickelson (2011) and Scott Piercy (2015). He was one-shy of the best tournament18-hole score (62) held by Ron Streck (1981) and Fred Funk (1992), both set at the Woodlands.
Kang’s statistics through two rounds:
R1: 12 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens, 27 putts, 3 of 3 sand saves
R2: 9 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens, 25 putts, 3 of 3 sand saves
Since the Shell Houston Open moved to the host course (GC of Houston) in 2006, international-born players have won four times, including Stuart Appleby (2006), Adam Scott (2007), Paul Casey (2009) and Matt Jones (2014).
With a victory this week, Kang would become the third first-time winner in the last four years of the Shell Houston Open. He would also earn an invitation to The Masters next week. He has competed in two majors in his career (2011 U.S. Open – T39, 2016 – U.S. Open – T18).
This marks Kang’s 15th start of the season where a T12 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is his best finish. He is coming off a T49 in the Puerto Rico Open and his currently No. 104 in the FedExCup standings.
Kang is making his third start in the Shell Houston Open: 2012/MC and 2016/69th.
Kang’s low round on the PGA TOUR is a 60, setting the course record at Monterey Peninsula CC during the second round of the 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
After two top-10s and four top-25s in the 2015-16 season, Kang advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in his career. Before Kang ended his season at No. 96 in the standings with a missed cut at the Dell Technologies Championship, he closed with a course-record 64 at Bethpage Black during THE NORTHERN TRUST, the first event of the Playoffs.
From 2013-15, Kang played 68 events on the Web.com Tour. In 2015, Kang made four top-10s in 21 starts and ended the season No. 21 to secure his PGA TOUR card. During his time on the Web.com Tour, Kang never held the outright lead after any round.
Kang is originally from Seoul, South Korea and resides in Dallas, Texas. He works with swing instructor George Gankas in Los Angeles, Calif.
Second-Round Lead Statistics
Eleven second-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win during the 2016-17 Season, most recently
D.A. Points at the Puerto Rico Open.
Since 2000, four second-round leaders of the Shell Houston Open have parlayed that position into a win: Paul
Casey (2009), Johnson Wagner (2008), Stuart Appleby (2006) and Robert Allenby (2000).
Last year, Charley Hoffman held the 36-hole lead at 10-under 134, one stroke clear of Jamie Lovemark.
Eventual-champion Jim Herman sat four strokes back in a tie for eighth place.
Rickie Fowler stood on the tee at the par-5 15th hole four back of Kang at 12-under-par. Fowler dropped three shots in two holes, pared in and finished at 9-under-par after third-round 71, which tied his highest second-round score in tournament history (2010).
Fowler, who has made the cut in every appearance in the Shell Houston Open, has struggled on the weekend. In five previous starts, Fowler boasts a 69.8 scoring average in the first two rounds compared to a 73.4 average on the weekend. His third-round scoring average at the GC of Houston in 73.00.
Fowler First 2 Rounds vs. Last 2 Rounds
Stat First 2 Last 2
Rounds Par or Better 10 4
Birdies or Better 45 33
Bogeys or Worse 18 28
Score to Par -22 +14
Scoring Average 69.8 73.4
Fowler has trailed after 36 holes in each of his four wins on TOUR. His third-round scoring average in those four events was 67.50.
Fowler has only recorded one third-round score over par (73/World Golf Championships – Mexico Championship) in seven tries this season,
A look at Fowler’s position heading into the weekend (third-round) in his four TOUR victories.
Year Tournament (Score/position/shots off the lead)
2012 Wells Fargo Championship (-6/T13/-6)
2015 THE PLAYERS Championship (-6/T3/-2)
2015 Dell Technologies Championship (-8/T3/-4)
2017 The Honda Classic (-8/3/-1)
Fowler ranks first in Scrambling and Sand Saves this season. In the second round, he was 3/4 in Sand Saves and 4/7 in Scrambling.
Thursday’s 64 marked Fowler’s best start this season and his lowest opening round, in relation to par, on the PGA TOUR. His previous-low opening round was a 7-under 63 at the 2011 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational.
Fowler’s first-round 64 is his lowest score (by four shots) in 21 rounds at the Shell Houston Open and just one shy of the course record at the Tournament Course. Today’s round also marked his third bogey-free round at the Golf Club of Houston.
Fowler is making his sixth start at the Shell Houston Open where he owns two top-10s: 2014/6th and 2017/T10.
In six starts on the PGA TOUR this season, Fowler has three top-10s including his fourth career PGA TOUR win at The Honda Classic. He is currently 10th in the FedExCup standings
In his only multiple-win season, Fowler won THE PLAYERS Championship and Dell Technologies Championship in 2015.
Additional player notes
University of Georgia alum Hudson Swafford and Russell Henley are 10-under-par, six back of Kang. Swafford is in search of his second TOUR win (2017 – CareerBuilder Challenge), while Henley is looking for his third Tour trophy (2013 Sony Open in Hawaii, 2014 The Honda Classic).
Aaron Baddley carded a second-round 4-under 68 and is 8-under-par, eight back of Kang, heading into the weekend. Baddley is the only player in the field without a bogey on his card.
Si Woo Kim withdrew during the round with a back injury.
Alex Cejka was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.
There are 29 players in this week’s Shell Houston Open scheduled to compete in next week’s Masters Tournament.
Four players have won the week prior to the Masters Tournament and then gone on to win in Augusta – Ralph Guldahl (Wyndham Championship) in 1939, Art Wall (Azalea Open) in 1959, Sandy Lyle (Wyndham Championship) in 1988 and Phil Mickelson (BellSouth Classic) in 2006. Additionally, Sam Snead won the 1949 Wyndham Championship and the Masters, the TOUR’s next official event, with one week of separation between the two events.
Four of the top-10 in the Official World Golf Ranking are in the field: No. 5 Henrik Stenson (CUT), No. 6 Jordan Spieth (CUT), No. 7 Adam Scott (CUT) and No. 9 Rickie Fowler (T2).
There are 10 former Shell Houston Open winners in the field:
R1-R2 Score Pos.
Jim Herman (2016) 74-71—145 CUT
J.B. Holmes (2015) 73-74—147 CUT
Matt Jones (2014) 70-72—142 T40
D.A. Points (2013) 68-71—139 T17
Hunter Mahan (2012) 72-77—149 CUT
Phil Mickelson (2011) 72-72—144 T67
Johnson Wagner (2008) 69-70—139 T17
Adam Scott (2007) 68-77—145 CUT
Stuart Appleby (2006, 1999) 79-74—153 CUT
Robert Allenby (2000) 77-76—153 CUT
Free skin cancer screenings, courtesy of cancer prevention specialists from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will be available to the general public for the first time at the Shell Houston Open on Saturday, April 1, from noon to 4 p.m.
Bryson DeChambeau has teamed up with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) to lead a special NKF Birdie Challenge during the month of April, the National Donate Life Month. DeChambeau’s father Jon, who has battled diabetes for 27 years, recently received a new kidney on March 8, 2017. DeChambeau will donate $250 per birdie and $500 per eagle on the PGA TOUR during April. Through the second round of the Shell Houston Open, DeChambeau has made nine birdies.
R1: Aaron Baddeley (68), Stewart Cink (66), Rickie Fowler (64), Robert Garrigus (68), Tom Hoge (67), Luke List (68), Bryce Molder (68), Adam Scott (68), Jhonattan Vegas (66).
R2: Sung Kang (63), Robert Streb (65), Zac Blair (67), Aaron Baddeley (68), Fabian Gomez (69).
Front 9 Back 9 Total Cumulative
R1 36.063 35.194 71.257
R2 35.979 36.746 72.725 71.991
The most difficult hole in round two was the par-4 18th (4.331), with the easiest being the par-4 first (3.789).
Early vs. Late Scoring Averages
R1: 71.39 (early) vs. 71.13 (late)
R2: 72.14 (early) vs. 73.33 (late)