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Hossler leads, ‘Postman’ shines at Shriners Children’s Open

Neither snow nor rain nor heat can stop the Postal Service from delivering. Apparently wind isn’t an issue for the Postman, either.

J.T. Poston withstood gusts as high as 30 mph during morning play at the Shriners Children’s Open to fire an 8-under 63, leaving him one shot back of leader Beau Hossler, who shot 62 in the calm of the afternoon.

The morning wave had the worst of conditions Thursday, but Poston — known as the “Postman” on social media — rolled along with six birdies and a pair of eagles, including his final hole, to make the most of his first competitive round since mid-August. And it came with low expectations.

“I wasn’t hitting it great kind of earlier in the week when we got here,” Poston said, noting old habits had crept in after his long layoff.

But something clicked Wednesday that carried over to the opening round.

“I felt like I had a lot of control of the golf ball,” he said.

That was vital in the morning winds, when holding approach shots to the slick, undulating greens became a challenge.

“The greens were firm and bouncy, and it was hard to keep it around the hole,” said Ryan Moore, the Las Vegas resident, 2012 Shriners champ and golfer who has played TPC Summerlin more than anybody in the field. “It’s tough to control your golf ball, and that’s just the reality.”

That wasn’t an issue for Poston, who started on the back nine and made two early birdies before jump-starting his round on the drivable par-4 15th, where he hit it to 11 feet and made the eagle putt. He added four more birdies and two bogeys after that before ending with another eagle on No. 9, where he reached the green from the rough with a 281-yard 3 wood, then made a 22-footer to cap the round.

And he did it all in wind that was consistently blowing 20 to 25 mph.

“We’ve played enough tournaments out here, you get conditions like that,” he said. “Sometimes it’s the opposite, it’s really windy (in practice rounds) and then it’s calm in the tournament. You just kind of have to take it as it comes.”

Hossler faced nothing but mild breezes in the afternoon, and he responded with eight birdies and an eagle. His only mistake came with a tee shot in the water on No. 17, leading to his only bogey.

“I think we kind of got lucky with the draw, to be honest,” he said of playing in the afternoon. “This morning looked pretty cold and blustery, and it’s rare that the afternoon is calmer, but it felt pretty calm. Fortunate there. I’ve been on the other side of that too many times. I don’t feel bad for them.”

Hossler did most of his work by keeping his drives in the fairway and hitting his short irons close most of the day.

“If I can get it in play in the fairway the rest of the week, I like my chances of having some good scoring opportunities, but that’s kind of the key, especially with Bermuda rough,” said Hossler, a 28-year-old looking for his first PGA Tour win. “It’s really hard to control the distance, so you’ve got to keep it in the short grass.”

Cameron Champ joined Poston at 8 under with his own 63 in the afternoon. Lanto Griffin and Davis Thompson were another shot back after 64s.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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