‘Rusty’ (lol) Scottie Scheffler fires bogey-free opening round at Texas Children’s Houston Open

HOUSTON — Coming into the week at Memorial Park Golf Course, Scottie Scheffler said he was rusty.

Sure, rust is a bit different when you’re the No. 1 player in the world against an average Joe on the local muni. But this week, the local muni is hosting the best players in the world at the 2024 Texas Children’s Houston Open. And Scheffler, coming off consecutive victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship, certainly didn’t show any rust Thursday.

He opened with a bogey-free 5-under 65 and trails Taylor Moore by one shot after the morning wave in Houston. If there were any signs of rust, Scheffler missed 11 of 18 greens, including his first three, but he gained nearly 2.5 strokes putting on the day.

“Yeah, I would say some key up-and-downs,” Scheffler said. “I made a nice putt there at the first to kind of get the round going and made some really nice up and downs after that.”

This season, 43 percent of Scheffler’s rounds have been 66 or better (12).

Scheffler held the lead for most of the back nine during his opening round. That was until Moore, who was defending his title last week at the Valspar Championship, made a birdie on the par-5 16th to sign for 6-under 64.

Starting on the back nine, Scheffler birdied Nos. 13 and 17 to turn in 2-under 33. Then on the back, consecutive circles on Nos. 2 and 3 propelled him into a share for the lead. Then he drained another putt on the fifth to take the solo lead for a bit.

If Scheffler were to win this week, he would be the first player to win three straight PGA Tour starts since Dustin Johnson in 2017. He would be the first to capture three consecutive stroke-play events since Rory McIlroy in 2014.

“I had a solid round,” Scheffler added. “Kept the card clean. Bogey free is always nice, especially around a golf course like this. It’s nice to be able to keep the card clean, like I said.”

2024 Texas Children's Houston Open
2024 Texas Children's Houston Open

Taylor Moore (USA) looks at the 18th green during the first round of the Texas Children’s Houston Open golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

For Moore, he began his round Thursday with a bogey, but a chip-in eagle on the par-5 third hole sparked his game. He turned in 31 and added birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 coming home to take the clubhouse lead after the morning wave.

As good as Scheffler was on the tricky greens at Memorial Park, Moore was better, gaining nearly three shots and more than 2.5 in Strokes Gained: Around the Greens.

“Hit a lot of greens,” Moore said. “After the first hole, just tried to see how many greens I could hit. Got off to a little bit of a jump start there on 3, chipped in for eagle on 3 and birdied 4. Yeah, just got into the round.”

Moore said he perhaps felt a bit more relaxed this week than he did as defending champion last week but added he doesn’t get too caught up in the pressure of a single event.

Beau Hossler, Aaron Rai and Adam Svensson each shot 4-under 66 Thursday morning and shared third behind Moore and Scheffler.

Playing with the world No. 1, last week’s victor Peter Malnati shot 2-under 68 while Will Zalatoris struggled in his 4-over effort.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek