Tony Finau tied for the best round of the day with a 7-under-par 64 and moved into a one-shot lead through two rounds of the Mexico Open at Vidanta in Vallarta on Friday.
He sits at 13-under 129, just ahead of U.S. countryman Brandon Wu and Erik van Rooyen of South Africa, who are at 12 under.
Finau, who started on the back nine, posted eight birdies, including two stretches of three birdies in a row. The first spurt was on holes 16-18, and the second was at 5-7. His only blemish was a bogey on the par-4 eighth hole.
“I played really nicely over the last couple days, was able to capitalize with the putter on shots that I hit pretty close. That was probably the biggest story, hitting it nicely, but being able to capitalize with the putter is very important out here and I was able to do that over the last couple days,” said Finau, who shot a 65 on Thursday.
Finau has five Tour wins, the most recent coming at the Houston Open in November.
Wu, who is looking for his first Tour win, also fired a 64 with eight birdies and one bogey, which came on his first hole. He finished strongly, notching birdies on four of his final five holes, including three straight on Nos. 16-18.
“I think the wind probably laid down just a little bit at the end there,” Wu said. “The holes are still playing long and tough. I think I hit 4-iron into 16 and 5-iron into 17 but luckily hit some good iron shots, made the putts to make birdie, so that was a nice way to finish.”
Finau and Wu were among three golfers tied for second place at last year’s tournament, one stroke behind Spain’s Jon Rahm.
van Rooyen, who started on the back nine, finished his 66 with seven birdies and two bogeys, one each on the front and back nine. He birdied three of four holes early in his round before a bogey on the next hole slowed his momentum.
Five players are tied for fourth at 9-under, including first-round leader Austin Smotherman, who had only two birdies all day, and then took a bogey on the par-4 16th to finish at 70. That group also features Akshay Bhatia (65 on Friday), Andrew Putnam and Will Gordon (66 apiece) and Eric Cole (68).
Rahm, the world’s top-ranked player, is among seven players tied for 12th at 7 under. His rocky round included an eagle, five birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.
“For a round that for the most part was good, there were two or three swings that were bad that cost me a little bit too much today, a little bit — a couple unforced errors all week that so far have cost me more than they should,” Rahm said. “I don’t think I’m playing bad, I think I’ve given away a couple more shots to some of the leaders. and that’s why I’m quite a bit away.”
–Field Level Media