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Houston resident Stefani feeling right at home

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HUMBLE, Texas – Shawn Stefani knows his way around the Golf Club of Houston, and Thursday’s effort proved that a little course knowledge can go a long way.

A resident of Houston, Stefani carded a 6-under 66 in the opening round of the Shell Houston Open, putting him within three shots of leader Scott Piercy, in front of a gallery that included a healthy contingent of friends and family.

“I’ve played a lot of golf out here,” Stefani said. “In my offseason I come out here and practice a lot and get a lot of work done. ... Always nice to come back to Houston and play here.”

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Stefani has fond memories of this event from last year, when he entered needing a high finish to satisfy the requirements of a minor medical extension and secure his card. He finished fifth, kept his card and went on to a successful year that included a playoff loss at the Quicken Loans National.

Now he has returned to a familiar venue, hoping that a little home cooking will do for him what it did for Jimmy Walker last week at the Valero Texas Open.

“I really haven’t been putting a lot of pressure on myself to play well. I think that’s the key to my good play,” he said. “As a kid I dreamed about playing in the Houston Open, and now this is the fourth time I’ve gotten to play it. I’m really happy to be here and just glad to be playing some good golf.”