- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

HUMBLE, TEXAS (AP) - Paul Casey shot a 2-under 70 on Friday for a share of the lead with Geoff Ogilvy and John Senden at 8 under during the suspended second round of the Shell Houston Open.

Casey was one of only five players to complete two rounds Friday after high wind suspended play Thursday afternoon. The horns sounded at 7:43 p.m. Friday with 65 players on the course and 72 others scheduled to start their second rounds Saturday morning.

“I didn’t think we’d get done,” Casey said, “but we did. That was great.”

Ogilvy, the Australian star who won the season-opening Mercedes-Benz and the Accenture Match Play, played 14 holes in the second round, while Senden played 10.

Ogilvy opened with a 67, then birdied seven of the first nine holes of his second round. He had a double bogey on the par-4 second and a bogey at the fourth.

Ogilvy and Casey were two of the 72 players who had their first-round tee times pushed back to Friday. Casey shot a 6-under 66 in his first round, then raced the sun to finish a second-round 70. After two-putting for par on No. 17, he ran to the 18th tee and smacked a 318-yard drive into the fairway just before the round was officially suspended, allowing him to finish the hole Friday.

“I figured it was worth it,” Casey said. “There’s something to be said about saving energy. It’s turning into a long week. If I had to get up early (Saturday), that could have been very detrimental. I took a chance, ran for the tee.”

Bo Van Pelt (67) was 7 under along with Jonathan Byrd, Henrik Stenson, Tommy Armour III and former SMU player Colt Knost. Bryd played 16 holes in the second round, Stenson 13, Armour 11 and Knost eight.

Senden, Nicholas Thompson and Briny Baird shared the first-round lead at 7 under.

Playing the back nine first, Ogilvy began his surge with a 13-foot birdie putt on the par-4 11th and then hit approaches inside 10 feet on the next three holes to take the outright lead. He drove into the trees and bogeyed the par-5 15th, then holed a bunker shot on the par-3 16th before birdies on 17 and 18, two long par 4s.

His 6-under 30 on his the nine was one shot shy of a tournament record.

Casey shot an opening 66, then birdied four of his first 11 holes in his second round. The Englishman bogeyed both par 3s on the back nine to slip to 8 under.

Ogilvy and Casey are two of the 15 top-20 players here this week to tune up for the Masters next week. The Tournament Course at Redstone was set up to simulate Augusta, with fast greens and light rough. But soft greens and ideal conditions Friday yielded 67 scores under par in the first round.

Fred Couples and Justin Leonard posted early 68s. James Nitties took the lead briefly with a 66, the best score among the 72 players forced to halt their rounds on Thursday.

Phil Mickelson didn’t deal with the interruption nearly as well, stumbling to a 77.

Meanwhile, the players who started their first rounds Friday hardly got a break before starting their second 18s.

Thompson had eight birdies and a bogey on Friday, his best round in 11 starts this year. He walked off No. 18, stopped for a quick interview, then raced to a a waiting cart to head to No. 10 for the start his second round.

Baird, playing in the group behind Thompson, didn’t even stop for reporters, grabbing a sandwich from a cooler before another cart whisked him off to the 10th tee. Baird moved to 9 under early in the second round, but he was back at 6 under when play was halted.

Casey didn’t mind hurrying.

“It’s a bit like college golf _ here’s your lunch and keep on going,” the former Arizona State star said. “I honestly expected us to have maybe a short little break, maybe 20 minutes to compose ourselves or do whatever we needed to do. We weren’t allowed that, we had to keep going. But hindsight, I’m glad we did.”

The comfortable weather drew big crowds Friday and they got an early morning treat when fan favorite Couples birdied four of his first seven holes. He three-putted No. 6, but still wound up with his fourth straight sub-70 round at Redstone.

“I like the course,” said Couples, who played at the University of Houston. “A lot of it is shaping it, and the way your eye looks at it.”

Divots:@ Defending champion Johnson Wagner, who has missed six cuts in 10 starts this year, shot a 2-under 70 in the first round. “There’s nothing about this place I don’t like,” Wagner said. “There are a lot of birdies out there, and I know where they are.” … Chris Couch withdrew after three holes Friday because of a shoulder injury. Dean Wilson also pulled out Friday, citing a sore back. … Greg Norman, making a rare appearance on the regular tour to prepare for the Masters, had two birdies Friday to finish a 71. … Former President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara rode around the course on a cart, waving to fans and watching the tournament. The Bushes live in Houston.

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