Haas, Hoffman share Houston lead

Bill Haas and Charley Hoffman carded first round 65s to claim a share of the lead of the PGA Tour’s Houston Open on Thursday.

Haas carded an eagle on the par-five fourth hole and added six birdies and one bogey, while Hoffman made seven birdies en route to his seven-under-par round at the Golf Club of Houston.

In a high-quality field just a week ahead of the Masters, Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, J.B. Holmes, Erik Compton and Jim Renner had to settle for a tie of second place after rounds of 66.

“I feel like I’m doing a lot of good things,” Haas told the PGA Tour’s official website from the clubhouse.

“I feel like I’m close. I think you just have to stay positive, and hopefully one week it all clicks and you find yourself in the mix on Sunday and then try to take advantage of that.”

A large group of 10 players were on five-under, another shot behind, including 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, British Open winner Stewart Cink and Sergio Garcia.

Another big group carded 68s, including three-time winner at Augusta National Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson, two-time Open winner Ernie Els, his South African compatriot and two-time major winner Retief Goosen, as well as Angel Cabrera.

After the round, Mickelson said that the right oblique muscle injury that forced him to withdraw from last week’s Texas Open had healed significantly and that he is feel confident ahead of next week’s Masters.

“I feel a lot better four or five days later,” Mickelson said.

“It doesn’t hurt anymore. It just feels sore as opposed to a kind of painful experience.”