Warren JFK High School graduate Jason Kokrak shot a second-round 69 on Friday and is one shot behind leader Steve Wheatcroft halfway through the Shell Houston Open.
Kokrak, who opened with a 66 on Thursday, again played well on a Redstone Golf Club layout he said suits his game. This time, Kokrak shot a 69 with five birdies (Nos. 4, 6, 8, 13 and 15. All but No. 6 are par-5 holes.
Kokrak’s only glitch was a double-bogey on the par-4 17th hole.
His two-day total of 9-under 135 was one stroke behind Wheatcroft’s 10-under 134. Kokrak is tied with first-round leader D.A. Points, who opened with a 64 and shot 71 on Friday.
Kokrak and Wheatcroft knew each other well.
“I’m happy for him,” Kokrak said. “I’m happy he’s doing well. Hopefully, I can go out there and overtake the lead. Hopefully, I overtake him late Sunday.”
Wheatcroft, who narrowly qualified for the Houston Open at the start of the week in a Monday qualifier, ran off three straight birdies early in his round and kept bogeys off his card for a second straight 5-under 67.
Rory McIlroy also will be around for two more days, but just barely.
In only his 10th full round of the year, McIlroy walked onto the seventh green — his 16th hole of the day — and saw that he was tied for 77th. He two-putted from 85 feet on the fringe for birdie on his next hole, and then safely found the green at the par-3 ninth for a 70. By the end of the day, McIlroy made the cut on the number.
“It’s a weekend where I can have a couple more rounds and try and get confidence in what I’m doing,” McIlroy.
McIlroy decided to enter the Texas Open next week.
Phil Mickelson also made the cut on the number after a bogey on the last hole for a 71.
“If I can play like I did the back nine, I’m going to give myself a lot of birdie chances,” Mickelson said.
Wheatcroft can’t bank on anything.
Not only does he have no status on the PGA Tour, he has only conditional status in the minor leagues. After missing out on a Web.com Tour event last week in Louisiana, he figured he might as well enter the Houston Open qualifier.
“Monday qualifiers are terrible. They’re just not fun, plain and simple,” Wheatcroft said. “I was on the PGA Tour in ‘07, played terribly. I had no status. So I had to be back to Monday qualifiers and pre-qualifiers the next year. I hate them.”