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Scheffler starts with another round under par. He trails by a shot in Houston

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HOUSTON (AP) — Scottie Scheffler had his 28th consecutive round under par to start the year, a 5-under 65 on Thursday that left him one shot behind Taylor Moore and Wilson Furr in the Houston Open.

Scheffler also extended his streak to 49 holes without a bogey dating to the third round of The Players Championship two weeks ago, where he became the first back-to-back winner in the 50 years of the PGA Tour’s flagship event.

The streak that matters is his bid for a third straight PGA Tour victory, a feat last accomplished seven years ago by Dustin Johnson.

That also was the last thing on Scheffler’s mind at Memorial Park, his final tournament before he heads to the Masters as a strong favorite.

“I don’t ever really put expectations on myself,” Scheffler said. “I try to be committed to my shots. I try to stay patient out there. At the beginning of the week, I’m not looking forward toward Sunday. I’m just focused on today.”

Moore came up short of the first hole and missed a 6-foot par putt. That was his lone mistake. He pitched in for eagle on the par-5 third and was on his way, getting up-and-down on the 18th for a 64.

“After the first hole, just tried to see how many greens I could hit,” Moore said. “Got off to a little bit of a jump start there on 3, chipped in for eagle and birdied 4. Just got into the round.”

Furr matched him late in the day, holing out from 120 yards for eagle on the par-4 fifth and closing with birdies on the par-5 eighth and par-3 ninth — making a 20-footer on 9.

“Had a good number. it was downwind and it landed right behind it, ripped right back to the hole and just never looked like it was going to miss,” Furr said about the eagle.

The 25-year-old former Alabama player is in his first season on the PGA Tour after earning a card last year on the Korn Ferry Tour.

“It’s a dream come true, for sure,” Furr said. “Just being surrounded by the best golfers in the world, it’s kind of inspiring day to day. Can’t ask for a better job than that.”

Scheffler was a stroke back with Joe Highsmith and Davis Riley.

Canadians Adam Svensson and Mackenzie Hughes were at 66 with Alejandro Tosti, Aaron Rai and Beau Hossler. Peter Malnati, coming off a victory last week at the Valspar Championship in Florida, shot 68.

Scheffler decided to take a little more time off last week at home in Dallas, mentally spent from winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players in consecutive weeks. He had a rugged start at Memorial Park, having to make a 10-foot par putt on No. 10 and not having his first birdie putt until his fourth hole at No. 13. He made a 12-footer.

It was his eighth bogey-free round of the year.

The Houston Open was last held in the fall of 2022, moving to a spring date for this year. That allowed the course to be overseeded, and the tough Bermuda rough from the fall has been replaced with very little rough at all.

It’s similar to what the Houston Open tried to do when it previously was held a week before the Masters and attracted several top players looking to compete ahead of the first major.

“I was surprised at the lack of rough on the course,” Scheffler said. “I know they’re trying to do a little bit of kind of what the tournament used to be when it was the week before. The golf course is in amazing shape right now. The runoffs are fun to play.

“You don’t need rough to make this course pretty tough,” he said. “I think it will be pretty difficult over the next couple days with the wind picking up.”

Scheffler had only two birdies inside 10 feet. He holed from 25 feet on the 17th and he made an 18-foot birdie on No. 2. He two-putted the par-5 third from long range.

Highsmith finished strong, getting up-and-down from the right rough on the par-5 eighth and hitting his tee shot to just inside 10 feet on the par-3 ninth.

Like Furr, Highsmith is a PGA Tour rookie, and his class already has made an impact this year. Matthieu Pavon of France (Torrey Pines) and Jake Knapp (Mexico) have won, while Sami Valimaki of Finland, Chandler Phillips and Jimmy Stanger all have contended on the back nine.

Two other rookies made a small piece of history Thursday. Parker and Pierceson Coody, the grandsons of former Masters champion Charles Coody, became the first twins to be paired together on the PGA Tour.

Both thought it was a mistake when the tee times came out.

“It was definitely a little more weird until the round started,” Pierceson said after a 69, one shot better than his brother. “Once the round started, it felt normal.”

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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