Padraig Harrington among clubhouse leaders at suspended Texas Open

Mar 30, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Padraig Harrington prepares to play his second shot on the eighth hole during the first round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Lower holds a one-stroke lead over a group that includes three-time major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland at the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, where first-round play was suspended Thursday with half the field still on the course.

The round began on schedule early Thursday morning before an increase in fog caused the PGA Tour to suspend play for more than three hours. As a result, the 72 players who teed off in the afternoon wave could not complete their rounds before darkness fell. They will complete their rounds Friday.

Lower stands at 5 under through nine holes. That puts him one shot clear of four golfers tied at 4-under 68 just before the horn sounded. Harrington, Matt Kuchar, MJ Daffue of South Africa and Roberto Diaz of Mexico carded 68 earlier in the day. Patrick Rodgers was 4 under through 13.

Lower started his round on the back nine and went 5 under over a stretch of five holes. He birdied the par-3 13th and eagled the par-5 14th, then added birdies at the par-3 16th and par-4 17th holes.

Harrington, 51, was the story of the morning after recording six birdies and two bogeys. The recent World Golf Hall of Fame nominee has spent most of his competitive rounds over the past year on the PGA Tour Champions, for golfers 50 and older.

“I love playing the Champions Tour and it’s really helped my game no end,” Harrington said. “I’m out there thinking, ‘Oh, I think I’m playing better.’ So I come, I play three European Tour events this year, this is my third PGA Tour event and I’m kind of going, ‘Well, I think I’m better, let’s go and see if I really am better out there with the kids.’ ”

Harrington last won on the PGA Tour in 2015. He used a string of three straight birdies at Nos. 17, 18 and 1 to move up the leaderboard; his last birdie came at the par-4 fifth, where his wedge into the green nestled inside 4 feet of the cup.

Not to be undone, the 44-year-old Kuchar, a nine-time PGA Tour winner, matched Harrington’s six birdies and two bogeys.

“This course has been good to me over the years,” Kuchar said. “I certainly have a comfort level, but I also know, I mean, I could easily pack up tomorrow afternoon just as easily as anyone.”

Daffue began his round with a double-bogey 6 at No. 1 and finished with an eagle 3 at the 18th, thanks to a 14-foot putt dropping.

Defending champion J.J. Spaun was even par through 11 holes, along with Rickie Fowler, who is making his last attempt to qualify for next week’s Masters Tournament. Fowler must win the Texas Open to make the field at Augusta.

–Field Level Media

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