Kang three in front at Houston Open after Fowler's four-putt

Fowler could only add a 71 to his opening 64 to fall seven shots off the pace, with England's Justin Rose another three shots back after also returning a 71.

Henley finished at 20-under 268 for a three-shot victory, the third of his career and first since 2014.

Kang blistered the Tournament Course at the Golf Club of Houston with a 9-under-par 63 on Friday and sits at 16 under with a six-stroke lead after the second-round play in flawless conditions in this northern suburb of the Bayou City.

He had five birdies, including three on the back nine, but by that time Henley was out of reach. He came in fourth in 2015, 14-under and two strokes back of champion D. A. Points, and he tied for fifth last spring, 11-under and four swings behind Jim Herman. He was in danger of missing the Masters for the second straight year until winning the Houston Open, the only way into Augusta National at this point.

Henley became the third player in the last four years to win the Houston Open and earn a trip to the Masters.

Spieth carded six bogeys and a solitary birdie in a disappointing 77, but insisted the poor weather forecast for the weekend in Houston did not make a missed cut any easier to swallow.

"Even if I think about it, it's going to happen or not", Kang said with a grin. "It excited me. I don't know, it's a cool experience and, like I said, it hasn't sunk in quite yet".

On the final two holes of the day, however, it was Fowler who had his share of misfortunes on his putts.

Rickie Fowler, with one eye on Augusta, turned the other eye to the task at hand, coping with a number of "mud balls" to surge into the first round lead at the Shell Houston Open in Texas Thursday.

BILOXI, Miss. - Miguel Angel Jimenez made a birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Gene Sauers and win his second consecutive Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.

Ten players are within five shots of the lead at the LPGA Tour's first major of the year, including Inbee Park, Michelle Wie and Ariya Jutanugarn.

  • Julie Sanders