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Wheatcroft grabs lead at Houston Open

8:03 PM, Mar 29, 2013   |    comments
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Humble, TX (Sports Network) - Steve Wheatcroft posted his second straight 5- under 67 on Friday to grab a 1-stroke lead after the second round of the Houston Open.

Wheatcroft, who got into the field via the Monday qualifier, finished 36 holes at 10-under-par 134. This is not only his first tour start of the year, but it is also the first time he has had the lead after any round on the PGA Tour.

"Oh God, no. I led at some point in Puerto Rico a few years a ago," said Wheatcroft, when asked if he has had the lead in a PGA Tour event before. "It was a goofy round. We played 18 holes, and then I don't think I played again for 48 hours or something. We had to play 27 on Sunday and 27 Monday, and it was just a continuous -- we stayed in the same groups. I was leading at some point in those rounds."

First-round leader D.A. Points managed a 1-under. He dipped into a share of second place at minus-9 with Jason Kokrak (69).

Stewart Cink fired the low round of the day, a 6-under 66 on the Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club, to jump into a tie for fourth. He was joined at 7-under-par 137 by Brian Davis (70).

Rory McIlroy (70) and Phil Mickelson (71) both made the cut on the number at 1-under 143. McIlroy mixed three birdies and a single bogey in his round of 70. Mickelson had five birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey in his round, and made the cut despite a bogey on his final hole, No. 18.

Wheatcroft played the back nine first on Friday and opened with three straight pars. He converted a 6-foot birdie chance at the par-5 13th and made it two in a row with an 8-foot birdie effort on the par-3 14th.

The 35-year-old, who has one win on the Web.com Tour, ran off five consecutive pars from the 15th.

Wheatcroft moved to minus-8 as he poured in a 27-footer for birdie on the second. He followed with birdies at three and four, from 18 and 16 feet respectively, to move into the lead at 10-under.

"Excited with where I'm at obviously. Got off to a decent start. I hit a good shot on 10, a decent shot on 11, but made a bad mistake on 12," Wheatcroft said. "I hit it in the fairway bunker and hit an awful shot. Actually hit the TV tower behind the green. Just lucky I got it up and down. Saved a little momentum, birdied the next two holes. So I was off and running. I knew I was swinging a little better today. I just needed to play smart out there."

Points fired a 64 on Thursday, but struggled to get anything going in the second round. He ran off 11 consecutive pars to open his round. After carding his lone birdie of the day at the par-4 12th, Points parred the last six.

"I was maybe a little bit cautious, but I didn't have a lot of green lights today, and when you don't have that, you know, when you're in the position of lead or close to the lead, you can't really squander them," Points admitted.

Kokrak chipped his third to the 13th to five feet and dropped that in for his first birdie of the day. He chipped in for birdie on the par-5 15th, but gave both of those strokes back at 17.

The two-time winner on the Web.com Tour missed the green with his second, then dumped his third into a greenside bunker. Kokrak chipped to six feet, but 2- putted for double-bogey.

Kokrak started his climb back up the leaderboard with a birdie on the fourth. He rolled in an 18-footer for birdie at No. 6 and got within one of the lead with a 5-foot birdie effort on the eighth.

"Last year at the Frys, I was hitting the ball really well, as I am here, that there is a lot of experience I can call upon," Kokrak said of last year's Frys.com Open, where he tied for second place. "There's still 36 holes to go here. I'm looking forward to a solid round on tomorrow, then we'll worry about Sunday."

NOTES: The cut line fell at 1-under 143 with 72 players making it to the weekend ... Among those that missed the cut were 2012 champion Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker as well as former major champions Retief Goosen, Lucas Glover and Trevor Immelman ... Sean O'Hair (back) and Thorbjorn Olesen (whiplash) withdrew on Friday. Olesen was in a car accident on Wednesday and doctors advised him to withdraw ... Carl Pettersson had a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh.

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