By Joel Beall
Autumn Saturdays are sacrosanct to most students at the University of Texas, those precious times reserved for their beloved Longhorns on the gridiron. This is especially true of home games, and with the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs heading into town this week you best believe Austin will be a wild scene.

And if Travis Vick has his way, he won’t be there for it.

Vick, a senior at Texas, turned in one of the rounds of the day to be in the early mix at the Cadence Bank Houston Open.

“Yeah, it’s always nice to get off to a good start,” Vick said after an opening 68. “I had some decision-making errors towards the end, specifically bogeying No. 16 kind of hurt, killed the momentum. But other than that, there’s a lot of great iron shots. It’s just a good round of golf.”

A former No. 1 junior in the country, Vick made the cut in Brookline at this year’s US Open and is currently No. 10 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Vick’s college career hasn’t featured a lot of wins, but he did earn the clinching point for the Longhorns during last year’s NCAA Championship. Making his second start on tour after last week’s debut at Mayakoba, Vick had four birdies in a seven-hole stretch on the front to get to three-under, and though the back was a bit of a roller-coaster ride (three bogeys, two birdies), his two-under total was just three back of the Thursday morning wave leaders.

Better yet, it was a performance delivered in front of a number of supporters, as Vick is a native of the Houston area.

“I had about I would say 50 family, friends that I know of that have come out here,” Vick said. “Then there’s a bunch of people that live in this area that I know of and so they’re either volunteering or they have a booth or something. Yeah, there’s a lot of familiar faces.”

Vick will need a solid Friday to make sure Thursday doesn’t go to waste, and he made no bones about his desire to be out on tour full-time. Reaching the weekend will go a long way in making that dream a reality. However, should that not come to pass on Friday, Vick does have a back-up plan.

“I think it’s two-and-a-half [to Austin] and I hope I don’t make it because that means I’ll be playing the weekend. But if I do miss the cut, I’ll definitely be there,” Vick said about Texas’ match-up with TCU. “I think Game Day’s going to be there as well, so it should be a good game.”

Jared C. Tilton

A Rose revival?

It was a quiet 2022 for Justin Rose, logging just two top-10 finishes in 18 starts. The year before the Englishman failed to make the playoffs. At 42 years old, it’s fair to wonder how much gas is left in his tank. On Thursday, Rose showed that tank isn’t dry just yet.

The 2013 US Open champ posted a three-under 67 at Memorial Park, a score Rose attributed ignoring his recent past and focusing on what’s ahead.

“Yeah, I think I’m trying to look at this as 2023 already, do you know what I mean?” Rose explained. “So obviously the end of 2022, it’s been a year to forget really for the most part, but I’ve had six or seven weeks back at home just trying to get 100 percent feeling good with my body. So that’s been the positive of the last couple weeks is I’m feeling good. I’m able to go out there, do my job, practice a little bit, sink my teeth into it, which is great.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Rose won the FedEx Cup (2018), and a win a few months later at Torrey Pines vaulted him to No. 1 in the world. But Rose hasn’t won since the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open, with back injuries and an equipment change taking their toll on his game.

However, Rose does his best work when things get tough. Since its renovation Memorial Park has not been an easy go, and with bad weather in the weekend’s forecast the final three days will be far from a birdiefest. Advantage, Rose.

“You know, I think this golf course definitely is one that has some teeth,” Rose said. “This morning, not any wind to speak of, but you have to just kind of keep you honest and keep you interested out there. But it was the kind of morning where you felt you had to go out and put a decent number together. I think if the forecast is to be believed, it’s going to get a little tougher here the next couple days, the north wind blowing pretty hard, so I felt like it was a day to get off to a good start and was able to do that.”

After being left off the 2021 Ryder Cup team, Rose may be needed to fill out Europe’s roster and give the club a veteran presence come next fall. A formidable showing this week could help the former Olympic gold medalist earn that responsibility.

Finau almost goes Full Gilmore

It was Shooter McGavin Bobblehead Day at the Houston Open, with spectators getting a commemorative statuette of the antagonist from “Happy Gilmore.” If that wasn’t enough Christopher McDonald, the actor who played McGavin, was on hand for the proceedings.

So when Tony Finau came through, Finau paid his respects the only way one does when Shooter McGavin is standing to the side: Bust out a Happy Gilmore swing.

You may also like:
Get your FREE November issue of Golf Digest Middle East here
Fox makes perfect start at Sun City
Dubai’s Chiara off to a flier in Jeddah
It’s what we deserve, says Hall of Saudi Ladies International prize hike
Future stars set for the Junior Dubai Desert Classic
Pat Perez’s surprise congrats after LIV triumph
Aramco Saudi Ladies International to ramp up prize money to $5million
Tee times and pairings for Aramco Team Series first round in Jeddah
Georgia Hall and Olivia Cowan set for Aramco Team Series finale
Nedbank Golf Challenge pairings as Fox looks to reel in Rory
Fleetwood and Molinari named captains for Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi
Jessica Korda calls time on 2022 season early
Angel Cabrera given additional prison sentence
Rory backs Tiger for PIP award
Four Saudi courses certified by GEO Foundation