Wheatcroft Forges One-Shot Lead at Houston Open

Steve Wheatcroft fired his second straight 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead through 36 holes of the Shell Houston Open. The $6.2 million PGA Tour event began Thursday on the Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas.

Wheatcroft, a second-year PGA Tour member who's playing this year on conditional Web.com Tour status, posted five birdies Friday. In his opening round, the 35-year-old carded eight birdies and three bogeys.

Wheatcroft is slated to Monday qualify for next week's Valero Texas Open, but with a high finish in Houston might not need to go through that ordeal.

He leads Jason Kokrak (69) and first-round leader, D.A. Points, who shot a 71 after his opening 64. Another stroke back are England's Brian Davis (70) and Stewart Cink, who carded Friday's low round, a 6-under 66.

Bill Haas (70), two-time major winner Angel Cabrera (72) and Cameron Tringale (73) share sixth at 138, with John Rollins (74), Scott Stallings (69), Dustin Johnson (70), Sweden's Henrik Stenson (70), Ben Crane (70), Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge (68), Jimmy Walker (71), Charlie Hoffman (71) and Boo Weekley (69) at 139.

The cut was set at even-par 144, allowing Rory McIroy to play two more rounds over the weekend. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman followed up his opening 73 with a 70.

"As I said, no one likes missing cuts and especially it's my last one before the Masters," McIlroy told PGATour.com. "Nice to have another couple of rounds, do some work on the range this afternoon and hopefully improve on the course that I've already done."

After making that comment, McIlroy announced he decided to enter next week's Valero Texas Open, which he hadn't planned on playing. McIlroy wants to get in more competitive rounds before the Masters, which starts April 11.

Also qualifying for the weekend is four-time major winner, Phil Mickelson, who's carded rounds of 72 and 71.

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