McIlroy shoots 70, 'left a lot of putts short' in Rd. 1


HUMBLE, Texas – Players always rave about the conditioning at the Golf Club of Houston, and this year is no exception.

Those with an eye on next week’s major will find a golf course here that closely resembles Augusta, from the shaved areas around the green to the green-to-tee mowing patterns to the rough that is clipped at precisely 1 1/4-inch height.

The only difference this year?

The greens aren’t lightning-fast, at least not yet. For that you can blame an unusually harsh winter and Thursday’s gray, misty weather, but several players said they had trouble adjusting to the slower-than-usual green speeds.

Included in that group is Rory McIlroy, who gave himself plenty of birdie chances (14 greens hit) on Day 1 but failed to convert most of them, requiring 31 putts.

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“I left a lot of putts short,” said McIlroy, who shot 2-under 70. “The greens aren’t quite as fast as what we’re used to.”

Earlier this week, the world No. 7 said the Houston Open setup is usually “perfect” prep for the Masters.

“It’s just so you don’t go to Augusta and are shocked by how fast the greens are or how much the rough runs off the greens,” he said.