HUMBLETEXAS: U.S. PGA Tour rookie Johnson Wagner took advantage of a rain-softened course and calm conditions to shoot a course-record of 8-under 64 in the rain-delayed Houston Open on Saturday.
Wagner was 11 under, four strokes behind Bubba Watson. The big-hitting Watson was 9 under through 15 holes and 15 under overall when play was suspended because of darkness. Jeff Maggert, playing with Watson, was three shots back at 12 under. Adam Scott and Paul Stankowski shot 65s just ahead of the suspension of play and were tied with Wagner at 11 under.
Defending champion Stuart Appleby was 10 under through 15 holes. Appleby led from start to finish last year and shared the 36-hole lead heading into Saturday.
Thunderstorms dumped 1 inches of rain on the 7,457-yard Tournament Course at Redstone on Saturday morning, postponing the start of the third round for six hours. The players went off in threesomes in the early afternoon and were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the soggy fairways.
Wagner started the day at 3 under, three shots out a six-way tie at the top. He teed off almost two hours before the leaders and made the most of the ideal scoring conditions.
He reeled off five straight birdies, including a curling 25-footer on No. 6, to finish a front-nine 30, then added two birdies on the back to beat Greg Owen's 65 in the second round of last year's Houston Open.
He won twice on the Nationwide Tour last year and finished second on the money list to earn a U.S. PGA Tour card. He's discovering quickly how much more difficult it is to win on the U.S. PGA Tour. Wagner has shot at least one round in the 60s in seven of nine starts this year. But his final-round average is 73.5, including an 80 at the Honda Classic and a 76 in Tampa the following week.
Wagner came into the tournament ranked sixth in greens in regulation. He hit 16 of 18 on Saturday and needed only 26 putts, four of them from beyond 14 feet.
Scott, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 5, missed several short putts on Friday and shot a 71. He holed a 23-footer on the No. 6, capping a stretch of four straight birdies.
Stankowski just regained his U.S. PGA Tour card by finishing eighth in qualifying school last year. He shot his best round of this year after missing three cuts in his first five starts. AP