Ryder chases clubhouse leaders Glover, Tway at rain-hit Houston Open

by Bernie McGuire

Houston (AFP) - Former US Open winner Lucas Glover and Kevin Tway ignited hopes of securing the last Masters berth on Thursday with seven-under par 65s at the rain-hit Houston Open.

Glover and Tway were out in the morning, teeing-off after a two-hour delay after heavy overnight rain that saturated the Golf Club of Houston course.

When darkness halted play, they were the clubhouse leaders, but American Sam Ryder was at eight-under through 15 holes and fellow American Beau Hossler was seven-under with two to play.

Thirty-four players in the field of 142 were still on the course and were to complete their rounds on Friday morning.

Glover, 38, capped his round with four straight birdies from his fifth hole and then birdied two of his closing three.

It was the South Carolina golfer's lowest tournament score by two shots in 45 rounds on the Houston course, where his best finish was seventh in 2005.

Despite owning a major title, Glover is not exempt into next week?s Masters having last competed at Augusta National in 2014.

"I like it here in Houston and I've had some success and then not, but that's every tournament, I guess, when you've been out here for 15 years," he said.

"But I do, I like it. I've got good vibes around here."

Tway, the 29-year old son of 1986 PGA Championship winner Bob Tway, highlighted his first appearance in Houston with four birdies over his closing eight holes, a good start in his quest for a win that would secure his first Masters appearance.

"Today was good and always close to home with the wind in Texas, the same in Oklahoma, so I felt pretty comfortable," he said.

"I kept the ball in play, made a few key putts. A couple up-and-downs to keep the momentum of the round going, so yeah, pleased."

If Tway should win through to the Masters he's no stranger to Augusta National having caddied many years for his illustrious father at the pre-tournament Par-3 Contest.

Rickie Fowler boosted his hopes of a first victory since capturing the Tiger Woods-hosted Hero World Challenge last December with a first-round 66.

The current World No. 8, third in Houston last year, was tied with Australian Rod Pampling, Julian Suri and Ryan Armour.

"The fairways are still pretty soggy and you have to make sure you catch the ball cleanly because if you don't it can make you look like a weekend golfer, at times, if you caught it a little heavy," Fowler said.

"But it was good to play good tee to green and also nice to make putts, including some longer ones and with the softer greens you could definitely putt more aggressively," he said.

- 'Good things coming' for Spieth -

Struggling Jordan Spieth displayed a timely return to form, birdying his three closing holes in a four-under 68 and then marking the effort a "nine out of 10" as he looks to build confidence ahead of next week?s Masters.

"Given how I was feeling going into this week I call that a nine out of 10 for me today on the rebound on kind of where I've been my last two tournaments," he said.

"Only way it gets to 10 out of 10 is to be in the lead, right?" added Spieth, who finished with birdie putts of seven feet, six inches and three feet.

"I put in a lot of work the last few days and we're starting to get something out of it. I thought that four-under kind of felt more like a six-under to me, but that means that good things are coming."