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Hoffman off to strong start at Houston Open

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Sat, 02 Apr 2016

Los Angeles: Charley Hoffman fired nine birdies in an eight-under par 64 on Thursday to grab a one-shot lead after the first round of the Houston Open over a quartet of players that included Dustin Johnson.

Hoffman’s 64 was one stroke shy of the Tournament Course record at the Golf Club of Houston held by five players.

He opened with a birdie at the 10th, and added birdies at 13 and 14 – adding a burst of four straight birdies from the first through fourth holes.

“Hit it great,” said Hoffman, who won the most recent of his three PGA Tour titles in 2014. “Hit a lot of fairways, hit a ton of greens, gave myself a bunch of chances and luckily enough a few went in today.”

Johnson, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour, powered into contention with a 10-footer for eagle at his penultimate hole, the par-five eighth and a birdie at the last, where he holed a long one from the fringe.

Johnson was tied for second with fellow Americans Roberto Castro, Scott Brown and Morgan Hoffmann.

Another four Americans were tied on 66: Johnson Wagner, Justin Hicks, Chez Reavie and Scott Pinckney.

“Overall, it was a great day,” Johnson said after a round that included seven birdies total.

“I made just two bogeys and one of them was a mud ball on five.”

“Then I had a penalty shot on the par-five 13th. Other than that, I felt like I played really solid today and holed some nice putts,” he said.

World number two Jordan Spieth, trying to build momentum heading into his Masters title defence next week, carded a 67 that left him tied for 10th.

Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson opened with a 69.

Defending champion JB Holmes, who won last year in a playoff with Spieth and Wagner, withdrew from the tournament on Wednesday with a shoulder injury. He was replaced in Thursday’s group with Spieth and Patrick Reed by Luke List, who carded a 68.

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