ENDICOTT, N.Y. — Through two rounds at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, John Huston is playing a lot like he did last year when he won his lone Champions Tour title.
The defending champion’s drives are still off the mark, but his putts are right on target. In the final round a year ago, though, he started hitting the ball off the tee like he wanted and cruised to a three-stroke victory.
“Hopefully, that’ll happen again because it would certainly make it a lot easier,” Huston said.
Huston shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday at En-Joie Golf Club to top of the leaderboard at 12-under par. He had a one-stroke lead over Brad Faxon, who shot a 66.
A day after heavy rain delayed the first round, play resumed Saturday on a sun-drenched and dried-out course.
Huston had to finish the final three holes of his first round Saturday, and he couldn’t have asked for a better way to start. He pitched in from about 30 yards on the par-4 16th for an eagle, then went on to par the final two holes of his first round.
He rode the momentum into the start of his second round about two hours later.
On the par-5 third hole, Huston chipped within 2 feet and made the putt for birdie. Two holes later, he drove the ball into the trees, but chipped it out with a pitching wedge onto the green to about 12 feet and two-putted for another birdie.
Huston finished the round with six birdies and one bogey, which came on the par-4 13th.
On the verge of a repeat performance, Huston said he feels confident heading into the final round given his previous success at En-Joie.
“It’s a similar feeling,” said Huston, a seven-time PGA Tour winner. “Anytime you’re near the lead, you feel like you should have a chance. … You just try to keep the momentum that you have going and not really think about winning. There’s a long ways to go.”
Faxon was in complete control on the greens, and had 12 one-putts. He finished the round with eight birdies, including an incredible 40-foot putt on the fourth hole after he used an 8-iron to chip it up on the green.
From then on, he did everything right on the greens. Off the tee, he was far from perfect but his putts more than made up for it.
“I’ve played a lot of good golf throughout my career hitting the ball sideways,” Faxon said. “I don’t expect to cure that overnight and hit every shot perfectly tomorrow, but sometimes that’s just the way you play and it’s definitely the way I play.”
Faxon had a double bogey on No. 10 after he drove it into the trees, but responded with three consecutive birdies.
Willie Wood and Peter Senior were three strokes back at 9 under. Wood had a 68, and Senior shot 67. Wood was one of 12 players who finished the rain-delayed first round Saturday.