Stroud misses cut by 1 stroke

Published 12:55 am Saturday, April 1, 2017

HUMBLE — Chris Stroud will be spending the weekend at home, thinking about changes he’s going to need to have made in the shaft strength of his irons after errant shots from the fairway led to him missing the cut by one shot Friday in the Shell Houston Open.

“With the changes I’ve made, my swing speed has increased three to four miles an hour,” explained Stroud, following a 75 for a 36-hole total of 145.

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“It has not been a problem with my long clubs, but I wound up hooking a lot of

irons and it cost me today,” he explained.

Mud balls, something Jordan Spieth complained long and loud about following his Thursday round, also haunted Stroud. Even when he put a good swing on some shots, the ball flew well off target because of mud on his ball.”

“It was just one of those days where nothing went right, where I couldn’t get anything going,” he said. “I really hit my driver well, which you have to do here, then got in trouble with iron shots that are normally my strength.”

The final, bitter pill for Stroud was a bogey on the par 5, eighth, which was his 17th hole of the day. Although he didn’t know it at the time, he would have made the cut with a par. After driving the ball in the left rough, his second sailed right and into the water.

Stroud also made bogey on the par 5, 15th, his sixth hole of the day. After splitting the fairway with his drive, he hit a wild rope hook while trying to lay up to a favorable distance with a 5-iron. The ball rolled into long grass, he had to chip out sideways and the end result was a 6.

His dismal day had gone south in a hurry with bogeys from the middle of the fairway on the first two holes. Though he scraped and clawed the rest of the way, saving par several times, the only highlights were back-to-back birdies on the par 5, 13th and the par 3, 14th — his fourth and five holes of the day.

Those birdies from inside 10 feet were his only realistic chances to knock a shot off par. Most of the rest of the time he was scrambling for pars. After hitting 14 of 18 greens on Thursday, he managed to hit just nine greens in regulation on Friday.

Only four times in 31 SHO rounds has Stroud gone higher than 75 and it hasn’t happened since a 76 in 2012. That was the last time he missed the cut here. He’d finished 12th and 17th the past two years at the Golf Club of Houston.

Stroud had good company among names missing the cut, with the likes of Adam Scott, Spieth, Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar also packing up after Friday’s round. Those guys, however, are all headed to Augusta and don’t have to worry about getting into tournaments.

On the flip side, South Korean Jung Kang shot a sizzling 63 which enabled him to set a 36 hole Houston Open record of 16-under 144.

Stroud is hopeful his next opportunity to play will be three weeks hence in the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. He knows for sure he’s in the field for the April 27-30 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

In the meantime, he’ll be having stiffer shafts put in his irons.

“I just have to keep trying to figure stuff out,” he said. “I have to get the shafts stiff enough that the irons are not flipping over at impact. I wanted to play well here, but I am not discouraged. I know I am not that far off.”

Stroud wasn’t the only Lamar ex to have one shot too many at the 36-hole mark. His former LU teammate, Shawn Stefani, was also at 145.