Harrington one off the lead in Texas
Lowry three behind early pacesetters, McIlroy well down the field in San Antonio
Padriaig Harrington of Ireland hits his second shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the Valero Texas Open. Photograph: Michael Cohen/Getty Images
Padraig Harrington will start today’s second round of the Texas Open one shot behind Matt Bettencourt and Peter Tomasulo, as the Americans got the jump on their rivals for the last remaining Masters invitation by taking a one-shot lead in San Antonio.
Harrington had posted the clubhouse target with a round of four under earlier in the day but lost that lead as Bettencourt and Tomasulo carded rounds of 67 (five under) at the Greg Norman designed TPC San Antonio.
Rory McIlory endured another patchy round in his final tune up for the year's first major as he finished on level par while Shane Lowry, who needs to win if he is to gain a place at Augusta next week, is on two under.
World number two McIlroy, who has struggled for form in the lead up to next week's Masters, had four birdies but offset them with four bogeys for an even par 72, leaving him five shots off the pace.
"I started off well but I threw in a couple of silly mistakes I was talking about trying to eliminate last week," McIlroy said.
"I made two bogeys on the par fives and made a bogey with a wedge in my hand so if you eliminate those than it's not a bad score.
"I hit the ball ok but not my best. It was tricky out there, the conditions were tough."
Bettencourt and Tomasulo are two of 137 players in the field who have yet to claim an invite to next week's Masters knowing only a win will get them there.
Despite the huge carrot dangling in front of him, 37-year-old Bettencourt tried to put the Masters out of his mind.
"I'm just going to go out tomorrow and have fun," he explained. "I haven't done anything great in golf in a couple of years so I just want to go have fun, put the ball in play off the tee because it's a really fun golf course when you put it in play out here."
Harrington, who is already headed to Augusta, said it had been difficult to control the ball in windy conditions.
"It was a cold wind and that really affects the ball," Harrington said. "If it's warm we can still get the golf ball to go out there but a cold wind is hard to move the ball and I have to say I didn't have good ball striking out there.
"I just worked it well and got the ball in position and my misses were either in the right places or I got slightly fortunate and then got up and down.
"It was a question of really paying attention and getting the most out of your round because you just couldn't hit pure shots all day, they just weren't the conditions for that."