Australian Bowditch sets second round pace at Texas Open


(Reuters) - Australian Steven Bowditch found himself in unfamiliar territory with the second round clubhouse lead at the $6.2 million Texas Open on Friday.

Bowditch, buoyed by an early eagle, opened a handy lead before frittering away a couple of strokes with a double-bogey at his final hole at the TPC San Antonio.

He shot a 67 for an eight-under-par 136 halfway total, one stroke ahead of Americans Chad Collins (66) and Andrew Loupe (70) with half the field back in the clubhouse.

"The last couple of days I've hit it close a lot of times, especially with my wedges," Bowditch, who has never led after any round in 109 previous starts on the PGA Tour, told Golf Channel.

"I haven't holed many putts (but I) made a couple of good par saves the last nine holes."

The double-bogey finish came at the par-four ninth, where he fanned his second shot into rough 20 yards right of the hole.

He misjudged his pitch shot and barely got the ball halfway to the cup. His next attempt was not much better, leaving him with a 10-foot bogey putt which he missed.

"It was a frustrating way to finish," he said. "I hit a couple of bad shots the last hole unfortunately but all in all it was good."

It was certainly smoother sailing earlier in the round as Bowditch holed out from 82 yards to pick up two strokes at his third hole.

"I was hoping to get it close and it went in," he said.

He built on the hot start and was seven under through 12 holes before stalling over the closing stretch.

Bowditch, 30, was a champion junior player in his homeland. He took a while to find his feet on the PGA Tour, but a tie for second at the Greenbrier Classic last year was a big step in the right direction.

Earlier Friday, 45 players completed the opening round, a spillover from a Thursday fog delay. Loupe, who had seven holes left overnight, carded a 67 to earn the first round lead, one stroke ahead of compatriot Pat Perez and Kiwi Danny Lee.

Perez and Lee had late tee times on Friday, as did Phil Mickelson, who shot a 77 on Thursday.

(Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina,; Editing by Gene Cherry)

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