Big week for Lyle in comeback
After getting the worst of the draw at last week's Texas Open and missing the cut Jarrod Lyle returns to a venue this week where he has some good memories to draw on in his bid to earn back a PGA TOUR card.
Lyle teed off at 8.50am Thursday in San Antonio and endured some of the most difficult conditions of the year as the scoring average for the morning field ballooned to 78.
His opening round 79 all but ensured he would miss the weekend but as one of six Australians teeing up at this week's Shell Houston Open he has the chance to get back on track towards earning the US$230,000 he needs to wrap up his card.
Lyle has played this event at the Golf Club of Houston three times for a best finish of T31 in 2009 and while his overall results aren't stellar he has twice shot 68 so knows the course well enough to post decent numbers.
The Houston Open has been kind to Australians in its nearly 70-year history with eight players from these shores claiming the trophy, Bruce Crampton twice.
Matt Jones' dramatic playoff win over Matt Kuchar last year was one for the ages and after an indifferent week last week in San Antonio he will be looking to recreate the magic in Houston and once again steal the final spot in the Masters.
Having come up short of his stated goal to play his way into the world top-50 by playing well at the Texas Open he has nothing to lose and everything to gain this week.
Jones isn't the only former Australian champion in the field this week with 2000 winner Robert Allenby also teeing up.
The 44-year-old Victorian has been struggling since his off course trevails in Hawaii in January making just one cut in seven starts with a T51 at the Honda Classic.
Allenby's Houston victory came at a different golf course and he hasn't shown much liking for the Golf Club of Houston since the tournament moved here in 2006 with just one top-10 finish in five appearances.
Aaron Baddeley enters the week off a roller coaster performance in San Antonio which eventually saw him finish T20.
Baddeley has a best finish of T4 at this event in 2011 though that is tempered by several mid-field finishes and three missed cuts since the tournament moved to this venue.
Cameron Percy and Steven Bowditch round out the Australian challenge, neither having done well at this venue in the past.
Bowditch arrives off a missed cut last week, a victim of the morning conditions on Thursday while Percy, who also teed off on Thursday morning, showed some good form in finishing top Australian.
His opening round 72 last week was a full six strokes better than the morning field average and if he can maintain that form this week he could be in the running come Sunday.
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