Charl Schwartzel shot 69 on Thursday at the Shell Houston Open to join a 32-way tie for 32nd place that included Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, and Patrick Reed.
The 2011 Masters Champion was bogey free in the first round at the Golf Club of Houston and made two birdies on the back nine before signing for 69.
The recent Valspar Championship winner reached the clubhouse on three-under-par, five shots back from leader Charley Hoffman, who shot 64 in spite of a bogey at the 16th.
‘Anytime you give the PGA Tour player a fairly soft green with not much wind, you’re going to hit a lot of quality iron shots in the fairway. I was able to do that and capitalize on that. Throughout the year I haven’t made as many putts as I’d like, and today I did which equates to an 8-under par. Off to a nice solid start. Hopefully keep it going,’ said Hoffman.
The American started on the 10th, where he made birdie, and turned in 33 before shooting the lights out on his second loop. His run of four birdies from the first to the fourth put him into a share of the lead and his final gain at the ninth would put him a stroke clear of Dustin Johnson, Roberto Castro, Scott Brown, and Morgan Hoffman.
Tyrone van Aswegen shot 71 to join a 15-way tie for 83rd place that included Retief Goosen and the in-form Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
Ernie Els was level-par after round one, while Louis Oosthuizen was one-over and Dawie van der Walt was two-over.