Live Blog: Round 1 at Shell Houston Open
6:03 p.m. Lee Westwood (3-under) shoots a bogey-free 69 today. We're still trying for our first bogey-free Live Blog. Signing off for the day now. Golf Magazine's Steve Beslow will be here tomorrow. See you in Augusta! 6:01 p.m. AK makes another birdie on 15, now 4-under and T2. That was his fourth birdie in his last six holes. I was hoping to see AK in the mix next week because he's the only one of the "young guns" I can picture in a green jacket. 5:55 p.m. Justin Leonard is 3-under through 14 and has a decent chance for birdie. Has anybody benefited more from Tiger's troubles than Leonard, who's gotten the chance to show off his droll sense of humor in those placeholder Nike ads that will run until Woods returns. 5:51 p.m. Couples just misses a birdie try on 15, still 1-under. And he's not wearing socks. Couples really was a style icon. With Ashworth, he helped create the business-casual look. A mixed legacy, but it did look good on him.
5:50 p.m. Nice view of Redstone's tee shot on 18 over water. Gulp! 5:46 p.m. Els unable to get the sand save on 14, now 2-under. AK gets his and stays at 3-under. That's a nice group to follow. 5:43 p.m. The Golf Channel just showed side-by-side down-the-line shots of Els and Pat Perez driving the ball. Els has barely started his downswing when Perez is at impact. Sorry, Pat, but it was like seeing a BMW 328i parked next to a Pinto. 5:41 p.m. AK and Els, both 3-under, both hit into the same bunker on the par-3 14th. 5:37 p.m. I was at this tournament a couple years ago. I was supposed to interview Padraig Harrington for a story about hybrid clubs (yup, the glamorous life of a golf writer). So I get to the gates of the course, and show my press pass to a State Trooper, who tells me in a lazy drawl, that "You'll have to park back there," points to a Wal-Mart about two miles and three highways away. He waited about three seconds until my head was about to explode and then smiled and said, "April Fools, go right this way." He got me good. 5:33 p.m. We jinxed AK, who just made bogey on 13, now 3-under. 5:30 p.m. Els gets back to 3-under with a birdie on 13. 5:27 p.m. Anthony Kim (4-under) has a long birdie putt coming up on 13, for his fourth straight. When he gets out, everyone can just go home. 5:24 p.m. Thanks to Phil Larimer for posting a comment in the blog, our first of the day: Phil FTW! To answer your bet question Mike, Tiger will not win a Major this year. Too rusty and too many distractions. U.S. Open in 2011 at the earliest, if then. I don't know Phil, you're ducking it a little. The bet is now majors for Woods in 2010 and 2011. I like Mickelson at Augusta too. 5:21 p.m. Good on-course coverage from The Golf Channel: Couples just railed on a Rules official at the Redstone course, letting him have it for how bad the course looks. Then he smiled and said, "April Fools." 5:17 p.m. Anthony Kim is 4-under after three consecutive birdies and is starting to look like a pretty solid Augusta pick, like having WVU in the March Madness pool. 5:14 p.m. Couples has managed to stay at 1-under, he's got a lengthy birdie putt on 13. Els takes a bogey on 12, now 2-under. 5:09 p.m. Speaking of Avatar's Sam Worthington, I saw Comcast's Masters 3-D demonstration yesterday and, let's just say, it's more Viewfinder than Avatar. You could see how cool golf in 3-D will be someday with the elevation changes and green undulations of Augusta National jumping off the screen, but that day is at least a couple years away. 5:08 p.m. Els (3-under) drives it into the water on 12. 5:06 p.m. Rickie Fowler finishes his round at 1-over. Amazing how quickly he's become the face of the future. The only guy who's become more famous than Folwer this year is Sam Worthington. 5:04 p.m. Note to readers. Like Augusta National, Golf.com bylaws state you can mention this Live Blog only for the next 48 hours. 5:02 p.m. Couples will likely give another one back on 12 and fall to even. 4:57 p.m. Ryan Ballengee, editor of Waggleroom, one of the best sports blogs out there, checks in via Twitter.com: Do you think that the Houston Open will create a faux drilling platform as a fountain to celebrate offshore drilling? Sorry, Ryan, we can't do political jokes in the live blog. We're still catching flak for that Abe Lincoln crack we made at Harbour Town last year. 4:52 p.m. Lee Westwood, another not-Phil/Tiger Masters pick, is 2-under through 13. Earlier this week, Westwood talked about why players like to play the Shell Houston Open to get ready for Augusta National: I think short game is vital around Augusta. I think putting on these greens being so fast will be a good preparation for next week, too. Got lot of imagination around both of these golf courses. These are undulating in places. When the greens get that quick you have to factor in the breeze and all sorts of different things. 4:49 p.m. Els, at 3-under, will have a tough par save on 11. If Els, Mickelson, Couples, Harrington, and AK are all in the mix this weekend, we'll have a pretty good buildup to the Masters. 4:44 p.m. Got a question for you golf fans out there. Two of my friends made an interesting bet last night. We were out at a bar and they starting talking about when Tiger would win another major. The bet: Will Tiger win a major in 2010 or 201?. The amount: $500. Which side would you take and why? 4:42 p.m. Couples gets it on the green from an awkward lie and has a chance to save par. AK makes birdie on 10, another Masters dark horse at 2-under. 4:38 p.m. Couples drove his ball into the water on 11; meanwhile, Martin Kaymer, another Masters dark horse at -2 today, is playing 18. 4:34 p.m. Frank Noblio and Brian Hammons both have some interesting facial hair going. The Golf Channel booth looks like an undercover car in a 1970s cop show. 4:33 p.m. Couples makes birdie on 10, 2-under. Hmmmmm. 4:28 p.m. The best thing about Freddie Couples' golf shoes is he can go skateboarding in the parking lot afterward without changing. 4:26 p.m. Vijay Singh just withdrew from the tournament with a bad back. Didn't want to do Golf Channel interview. 4:22 p.m. Vaughn Taylor, James Driscol and Kevin Sutherland are all T2 after 68s today. TitleistonTour explains on Twitter. Low scores at Shell Houston aren't surprised, course is in perfect shape. Hard and fast greens are rolling true; hit it close, putt for bird. 4:19 p.m. I saw a guy today wearing a Montreal Expos cap and a Long Island Ducks sweatshirt. Yup, he was single. 4:17 p.m. Anthony Kim (remember him?) tees off on 9. AK is 1-under, and has the aggressive game that Augusta National rewards. 4:14 p.m. Freddie Couples, who's become a Bizzaro World Masters pick after cleaning up on the senior circuit, is 1-under through 9. Freddie's cool, but I don't understand the man-crush all my colleagues have on him. 4:08 p.m. Ernie Els gets to 3-under with a tap-in birdie on No. 8. Who's not excited about Ernie finding his way back? He's one of the only true superstars on Tour and he had been walking the fairways like a ghost for the last two years. 4:06 p.m. Story of the day so far? Kevin Stadler in the lead at 5-under after a first round 67. Phil Mickelson is T5 after a 69, as is old friend Adam Scott. 4 p.m. Welcome to the Golf.com Shell Houston Open live blog, where we're warming up our blogging for Augusta. We'll be here with you until 7 p.m. Please leave a comment below or send us a tweet at twitter.com/si_golf