HOUSTON – Based off Aaron Wise’s attitude following his opening 18 holes, one would’ve thought he performed poorly during the first round of the 2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open.
He was less than enthralled after his round at Memorial Park Golf Course on Thursday, which was a brilliant bogey-free 5-under 65 to take the lead following the morning wave. Wise, whose lone PGA Tour win came in the state of Texas at the AT&T Byron Nelson in 2017, is tied with Alex Noren at the top.
“I’ve just been in a weird place with my game where I’m obviously playing well enough to shoot good scores, but there’s just a couple shots a round that are frustrating me,” Wise said. “Maybe it’s also just because it’s late in the season and I played too much golf, and that’s just kind of how golf gets.
“I have time to go clean some stuff up before the round tomorrow and hopefully play a little more solid, even though I would take the score again if you would give it to me.”
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The highlight for Wise came on holes No. 3-6, when he recorded four straight birdies to move to 5 under. He started on No. 10, making seven pars before a birdie on the par-3 17th.
“I had a couple great saves to shoot bogey-free,” Wise said. “Sometimes you shoot bogey-free and you hit 18 greens, and it was just an easy round. Today, it was bogey-free on the card, but it didn’t feel stress-free.”
For Noren, his round started and ended the same way: with a birdie. He also started on the 10th hole, where he stuffed his approach shot inside six feet for a circle on the scorecard. He then had four birdies in five holes to begin his second nine after a bogey on the first, and Noren capitalized his day with a great tee shot on the par-3 ninth, drilling an eight-foot birdie to get to 5 under.
Alex Noren lines up a putt on the 13th green during the first round of the Cadence Bank Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course on November 10, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Noren, who has 11 international victories but none on the PGA Tour, also wasn’t feeling his best coming into the week.
“A little bit nervous coming into today,” Noren said. “Didn’t feel great in practice but found something and got the irons a lot better. So yeah, good.”
The duo has a one-shot lead over David Lipsky, who shot 4-under 66. Lipsky had five birdies and no bogeys to go out in 30, but he proceeded to bogey the 10th hole before making eight straight pars to finish his round. He also hasn’t won on Tour.
“Took advantage of the birdie holes on the front nine and hung in there pretty well on the back nine,” Lipsky said. “I think there was a stretch where I missed like three greens in a row, got them all up and down.”
There’s a large group at 3 under, including Justin Rose and Zecheng Dou, who finished on top of the Korn Ferry Tour standings to earn his PGA Tour card this summer.
Scottie Scheffler, the No. 2 golfer in the world and favorite coming in, birdied three of his final eight holes to finish at even-par 70.
However, everyone is chasing Noren and Wise. And on a course where the winning 72-hole scores have been 13 under and 10 under, getting off to a fast start is pivotal for success come the weekend.
“I’m anxious to get that next win,” Wise said. “I got one, but it feels like forever ago now. It’s one of those things where you’ve just got to stay patient. Like, I can’t control if I’m going to go out and win this tournament, right? I can only control how good a shot I’m going to hit, how good a putt I’m going to hit. So I’m just going to focus on that and then at the end of the week just tally them up and see where it ends up.”