MEXICO’S PLAYA DEL CARMEN
atthew Wolff was on the verge of taking a huge lead in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba until a pair of late bogeys forced him to settle for a 3-under 68 and a two-shot lead over Scottie Scheffler.
After opening with a 10-birdie round of 61, Wolff had little trouble making birdies the next day. For the second day in a row, he birdied all of the par 5s at El Camaleon, the latest one being a superb pitch to 6 feet at No. 13 that put him at 15 under.
But on the difficult par-4 16th, which played into a little wind, he discovered a greenside bunker and couldn’t get up-and-down with a 35-yard sand approach. On the 18th hole, his 3-wood went left into a bunker, and he missed a 12-foot par putt.
He’s now at 13-under 129, still in first place and looking in charge of his game. The 16th and 18th holes are two of the course’s three most difficult.
Wolff said the final as “tough,” but he was “very happy” with his performance. A semblance of difficulty was felt this afternoon. The fact that I was able to keep making birdies in the face of adversity makes me happy as someone who had a bad day on the golf course yesterday.. I’m looking forward to the week since I’ve put myself in a great position.”
Scheffler, who has played well in majors and the Ryder Cup but has yet to win on the PGA Tour, was on the verge of missing the cut until he made five straight birdies, the last of which was a 35-foot putt on the par-3 eighth.
He finished with a par for a 64, putting him two strokes behind the leader.
Scheffler stated, “I feel like I’m doing a good job of getting the ball in position and giving myself a lot of looks.” “The first couple of days, I feel like I burned a lot of edges. I think I’ll start scoring a little better if those putts start dropping a little more.”
Carlos Ortiz of Mexico and Viktor Hovland of Norway, the defending winner, both scored 65 and were three shots back. After making the turn, Hovland overcame an unusual break on No. 1 when his approach took a wild bounce and sailed out-of-bounds, resulting in double bogey.
According to Hovland, “I pushed the ball a little bit, and actually landed four steps right of the pin, hits a sprinkler head, and goes in trees above the green.” “However, I didn’t chop it open-faced or anything like that. Only a simple reset would have sufficed for me.”
That’s exactly what he did the rest of the way, making five birdies.
It doesn’t take much to get out of position, and the top players all stressed the importance of maintaining possession of the ball.
Brooks Koepka followed suit until the last possible time. Finally making the cut line on the 16th hole, he crashed into the mangroves on its left side. If it hadn’t been for the penalty drop, it would have been much worse. After a 71 that included a triple bogey, he failed to make the cut. Since July, Koepka hasn’t finished in the top 20.
Rickie Fowler made his blunders early in the game. There was an opportunity to make birdie, but he missed it on the par-5 13th hole. A birdie on the 17th brought his round up to 72, putting him within striking distance of the cut mark.
At 4-under 138, the cut was made.
At 9-under 135, ten players were tied for fifth place, including Justin Thomas. Bill Haas, who is using a one-time exemption for career money to keep a full card this year, may be the biggest surprise in that bunch.
Former FedEx Cup champion Haas hasn’t won in in six years and is currently ranked 744th in the world. He started with a 65 and followed it up with a bogey-free round of 67 to keep himself in contention.
“My search for a constant and a way to get over the hump has been going on for three years now,” he said. According to Haas,. “Right now, I’m thinking about a swing that seems to be functioning well. And I’d like it to endure longer than two days. I’d like it to keep going in this direction, and I’m hoping for a pleasant few months.”