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March 29 2012

10:49 PM

Will this be the lucky 24th for Maggert?

By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM

HUMBLE, Texas – Lucky No. 24? Jeff Maggert would certainly like to think so.

After all, he’s a hometown-ish guy. He lives just a 20-mile drive north of the Redstone Course. He’s been playing Shell Houston Opens since he was fresh out of Texas A&M.

And there was that six-year stretch in the 1990s when he finished second three times at the old TPC at The Woodlands course.

“I had a lot of close calls when we played over at TPC Woodlands years ago,’’ he said after an opening 66. “Since we moved over here to Redstone, I haven't really had a chance to really make a scare of anything. Who knows. Twenty-two times is a charm maybe.”

Well, that’s 22 times as a PGA TOUR member. The 48-year-old played the SHO twice before he got his card. And about Redstone? He’s still finished in the top 7 three times since the tournament moved to Redstone in 2003.

Can you say wily veteran? Maggert was sidelined for five months last year following shoulder surgery but started 2012 fast with a T13 at the Sony Open and a fifth at the Humana Challenge and a solid week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Then poof. Five missed cuts.

Now a 66? What did he find?

“I realize that's still a mystery,’’ he said. “I have no idea. I started out the year playing really well, had some great rounds and just struggled the last two months and just couldn't put a finger on anything.

“Ball striking was a little off, putting was lousy, short game wasn't very good, and, you know, I just tried to come in here with a kind of a fresh attitude. The greens are just fabulous this week, and I've tried to simplify things a little bit. You know, try not to think so much on the greens and see the putts and try to put them in the hole.”

Maggert took advantage of near-perfect conditions in the morning before the storms blew through.

“It was a fun day,’’ he said. “I was a little apprehensive the way I've been playing last two months, but I felt pretty good in my practice rounds and I felt the -- the greens are fantastic. I felt some confidence on the greens today, and I made a few putts early and kind of carried over for the rest of the day. Made a nice little putt from behind the green on 16 and nice one on 18 to kind of cap off a nice day.’’

And a great start to SHO No. 24.

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