Crowded at the Top of Houston Open

Stewart Cink and Bill Haas are now setting the pace in the Shell Houston Open. The $6.2 million PGA Tour event began Thursday on the Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas.

Cink, a six-time Tour winner whose last victory came 75 starts ago in the 2009 Open Championship, fired a 4-under 68, while Haas, a five-time winner, carded a 67. Both players stand at 11-under 205 through 54 holes.

Another stroke back is second-round leader Steve Wheatcroft (72), Ben Crane (67), 18-hole leader D.A. Points (71) and Jason Kokrak (71).

Two strokes behind Cink and Haas are Bud Cauley (65), Louis Oosthuizen (65), Lee Westwood (67), Billy Horschel (67), Keegan Bradley (67), Kevin Chappell (67), Sweden's Henrik Stenson (68), Cameron Tringale (69) and Argentina's Angel Cabrera (69).

Only three the leaders is England's Brian Davis (71), while sharing 17th at 7-under 209 are England's Greg Owen (68), John Merrick (69), Charley Hoffman (70) and Dustin Johnson (70).

Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, speaks for the rest of the frontrunners when he told, "I know I'm going to have to shoot a really low round to win. But I put myself in a good position to do that tomorrow."

Phil Mickelson (67) soared up the leaderboard into a share of 21st at 210 with Chez Reavie (68), Canada's Graham DeLaet (68), Josh Teater (69), Scott Verplank (70) and John Rollins (71).

After opening with rounds of 73 and 70 to just make the 36-hole cut of 1-under 143, Rory McIlroy posted a 1-under 71 and is now in a tie for 48th at 2-under 214 with 12 other players. McIlroy was in good shape to go low Saturday, but closed with three bogeys on his final six holes.

"Obviously not the finish I wanted," he told "I showed a lot of really positive signs out there, and I would love to take it forward into tomorrow and also into next week. Ultimately, into the Masters in a couple weeks' time.

"It's all moving in the right direction," added McIlroy, who was supplanted by Tiger Woods as the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world when Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last Sunday. "I definitely feel like I played a lot better than the 71 on the scorecard suggests. So, you know, even though it wasn't my best round, scoring-wise, it was still a great one for me."

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