Braden Bailey remains 3-under in Houston

Published 7:57 pm Saturday, October 12, 2019

Despite having what surely must have been one of his most frustrating putting rounds since bygone days at the Pea Patch, Braden Bailey continued to leave little doubt in the Houston Open that he has a PGA Tour caliber game.

Bailey, forced to come back early Saturday to complete the final eight holes of his second round, played 26 holes in even par. He completed a second-round 74 with two birdies and two bogeys, then made three birdies and three bogeys in a third- round 72.

That left him tied for 29th at three-under-par 213 at the Golf Club of Houston, a total that would have been considerably lower had his putter not betrayed him.

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The Port Neches-Groves ex missed four birdies and one par inside six feet while taking 32 putts in round three. The misses came from 5-7, 3-9, 3-10, 4-10 and 5-1. His longest made putt of the day was a birdie from 8-10.

Chris Stroud, the other former PNG player in the field, also shot 72 and is tied for 46th at 216. Stroud, who also had to come back for an 8 a.m. restart of round two, was two under at one point in the afternoon but fell back with three bogeys in a four-hole stretch.

Lanto Griffin, after a 65, owns the 54-hole lead at 11-under 205. Mark Hubbard is a stroke back at 206. Three players are at 207 and six more stand at 208.

What may really sting Bailey is a future opportunity that has probably slipped away amidst all the missed putts. By finishing in the top 10, he would have gotten to play in the next regular PGA Tour stop the last week of October. He’ll start Sunday five shots out of the top 10.

To Bailey’s credit, he never let the putting problems impact other parts of his game. He just kept hitting greens and giving himself chances, as underscored by his No. 1 rank in the Strokes Gained Approach to Green stat.

Bailey got his long day off to a good start by two-putting from 30 feet on the 11th hole. He then made back-to-back birdies at the par-4 12th and the par-5 13th with putts from 2-5 and 5-9, respectively. That got him to even par for a second round that saw him incur three penalty strokes on wayward drives.

Bogeys at 15 after a penalty and at 17 after driving into a bunker forced him to settle for a 74. He was tied for 23rd at the 36-hole mark.

In the afternoon round, Bailey got off slowly with a bogey on the second hole and went to two over after taking another bogey at the par-5 eighth. He got back to even with birdies from 8-10 on the par-4 11th and from 3-6 on the par-5 13th. But another bogey followed at 14 when he missed his par putt from 4-6.

A quick bounce-back birdie followed from 3-7 on the par-5 15th. Putting frustration would bite him one more time, however, after a spectacular, 195-yard shot from the bunker at 18 stopped 5 feet from the hole.

With a chance to walk away on a high note, he missed the putt.