Humble, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Bill Haas and Charley Hoffman both fired 7- under 65s on Thursday and they share the lead after one round of the Houston Open.
Haas is using this event as a final tune-up for next week's Masters, while Hoffman needs to win the title this week in order to get into the field next week at Augusta.
Keegan Bradley and Matt Kuchar carded matching 66s and they are tied for third on the Tournament Course at Golf Club of Houston. They were joined there by J.B. Holmes, Erik Compton and Jim Renner.
Former major champions Stewart Cink, Ben Curtis and Charl Schwartzel are among 10 players that share eighth place at 5-under 67.
Phil Mickelson, who hurt his oblique last week, opened with a bogey-free 68. Among those he shared 18th place with were Davis Love III, Ernie Els, Angel Cabrera and Steve Stricker, who was making his third start of the year.
"I feel a lot better. I travel with a light therapy machine, and I got on it right away, and I think that made a world of difference as far as expediting the healing process to where it doesn't hurt anymore," Mickelson explained. "It just feels sore like I was working out, as opposed to kind of a painful experience."
Defending champion D.A. Points managed a 1-under 71 and is part of a large group tied for 76th.
Haas and Hoffman both played the back nine first on Friday. Haas drained a 17- footer for birdie on the 12th and followed with a 31-foot birdie effort on the par-3 14th to move to minus-2.
At the par-3 16th, Haas found sand off the tee and blasted to five feet. However, he failed to save par and dipped to minus-1. Around the turn, he got that shot back when he birdied the first from nine feet out.
Haas, the reigning AT&T National champion, poured in a 28-foot eagle chance on the par-5 fourth to move to minus-4. He parred the fifth, then soared into the lead.
The 31-year-old birdied the sixth from nine feet out and made it two in a row with a 13-footer for birdie on the seventh. Haas got up and down for birdie from a greenside bunker on No. 8 to move to 7-under. He parred the last to end there.
"I feel like I'm doing a lot of good things. I feel like I'm close," Haas said. "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."
Hoffman, who was four groups behind Haas, opened with a 9-foot birdie putt on the 10th. He birdied the par-5 13th from inside 10 feet, then stuffed his tee shot at the par-3 14th to three feet.
The two-time PGA Tour winner parred the next four before sinking a 17-foot birdie putt on No. 1. Hoffman stuck his second shot at the par-4 third to three feet and kicked that in for birdie.
Hoffman made it two in a row as he birdied the par-5 fourth. After three pars in a row, Hoffman 2-putted for birdie on the par-5 eighth to gain a share of the lead. He parred the ninth to share the lead with Haas.
NOTES: Haas' father, Jay, won this title 28 years ago ... Hoffman has never missed the cut in seven previous starts at this event ... Bradley, Mickelson and Webb Simpson, who all played together, went bogey-free as a group ... Dustin Johnson withdrew after struggling to an 8-over 80.