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Kang leads Houston Open, Scott misses cut

Press Association logoPress Association 31/03/2017

South Korea's Sung Kang threatened to leave a world-class field trailing in his wake after a brilliant second round at the Houston Open put him a tournament record six shots clear at the half way mark.

Kang carded seven birdies and an eagle to tie the course record of 63 at the Golf Club of Houston on Friday (Saturday AEDT) and set a 36-hole tournament record of 16-under par.

Americans Hudson Swafford and Russell Henley carded consecutive rounds of 67 to be joint second second at 10-under with overnight leader Rickie Fowler carding a 71 to be alone in fourth at nine-under.

Kang's fellow competitor's struggled to comprehend his two-round total.

Swafford's caddie said, "16 is leading," to which Swafford replied, "No way, that's a 10, dude."

"He said, 'No, it's 16'," Swafford said.

Fowler dropped three shots in two holes, including a double bogey on the par-five 15th, to drop back after being at 12-under late in his round.

"Still not in a bad position," the world No.9 said.

"It would have been nice to be a couple closer."

Aaron Baddeley is the best of the 10-man Australian contingent in a tie for fifth at eight-under, after back-to-back rounds of 68.

Like Kang, and 113 others that teed off in Houston this week, Baddeley must win the PGA event to secure a place at next week's Masters.

Kang insisted that playing in the Masters hasn't crossed his mind.

"It's not in my head," Kang said. "Whatever happens, happens."

A number of Masters contenders struggled with Australian world No.7 Adam Scott carding a 77 to be one-over, with the cut line at even par.

Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, had six bogeys and a double bogey in his five-over par second round.

The other two Aussies to make the cut are Geoff Ogilvy (74) and Matt Jones (72) at two-under.

Greg Chalmers, Cameron Smith, John Senden, Steven Bowditch, Stuart Appleby and Robert Allenby are among the players having the weekend off.

World No.5 Henrik Stenson backed up an opening round 74 with a 75 to be five-over, world No.6 Jordan Spieth matched Scott's 77 to be two-over while world No.12 Patrick Reed finished at four-over.

Lee Westwood, who was joint second with Spieth at Augusta 12 months ago, was guaranteed a weekend off after rounds of 77 and 74.

Phil Mickelson rallied late to shoot par for a second straight day to make the cut on the number, something he said was important to him ahead of Augusta.

"I fought hard in the end to get to the weekend because I felt, to get sharp for next week, I need to play a better round," Mickelson said.

"I didn't want to have five days without competitive rounds before we tee off.

"I also think the course provides a great opportunity to get ready for next week."

Kang began the day a shot behind world No.9 Fowler but quickly erased that deficit with a birdie on the 11th, his second hole of the day.

Further birdies on the 15th and 17th took the 29-year-old to the turn in 33 and he picked up further shots on the first, second, fourth and seventh before holing from 30 feet for an eagle on the par-five eighth.

"I putted pretty good yesterday, putted really good today," Kang said.

"Plus I teed off the first off, and the greens are just pure, nobody really had [walked on] them."

Kang is ranked No.202 in the world and had missed the cut in five of his nine PGA Tour events in 2017 but demonstrated he was capable of low scores with a second-round 60 in last year's Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

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