San Antonio – New Zealand's Danny Lee, still building on a confidence-boosting runner-up finish in Puerto Rico, seized a share of the first-round lead in the fog-delayed PGA Tour Texas Open.
Lee birdied four of his last five holes en route to a four-under par 68, joining American Pat Perez atop the leaderboard.
After fog delayed the start of the round by two and a half hours, darkness halted play with 45 players still on the course and due to return Friday morning to complete their rounds.
They included American Andrew Loupe, who was four-under through 11 holes.
South Korean Noh Seung-Yul was among four players in the clubhouse on three-under 69.
Americans Will MacKenzie, Cameron Beckman and Chesson Hadley were also in the clubhouse one shot off the lead.
Lee, 23, was pleased with his round.
“I was hitting it really well,” Lee said. “I wasn't making enough putts early in the early round but at the end I made some 15-footers and 25-footers.”
Lee had made just two cuts in nine starts when he arrived in Puerto Rico three weeks ago.
“I was kind of doubting myself,” the South Korean-born Kiwi admitted. “I wasn't really committed to every shot I hit.
“Ever since I finished second at Puerto Rico, everything changed a little bit for me. I was believing in every shot I hit and was believing in my game.”
Lee, who now lives in Texas, was surprised to see a foggy morning in the Lone Star State, calling it “weird.”
Perez was in the first group to tee off from the first tee.
He was up at 4:30 am for a scheduled 7:30 am tee time, and it was still cold and damp when his group at last got underway, although it was sunny and warm in the afternoon.
“It was actually miserable,” Perez said of the weather when he teed off. But as the conditions improved, so did Perez, who like Lee finished with five birdies and just one bogey.
“Got warm. I started hitting some good shots and got some feeling back in my hands and feet,” he said. “I made a couple of putts.”
After a bogey at 15, where he was in the bunker, Perez closed with three straight birdies.
Perez, like most of the field, needs a win here to qualify for the Masters.
But he said he can't afford to think about that just yet.
“You can't worry about all that stuff,” Perez said. “It's out of your control.”
Lee, whose stellar amateur career included a victory in a European Tour event, played the Masters in 2009 as the 2008 US Amateur Champion.
He'd love to return to Augusta National, but he also said it was too soon to think that far ahead.
“I'm just thinking about this week, tomorrow, next shot,” he said. – Sapa-AFP