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Home bet Ortiz, 3 others share top spot


MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — Local favorite Alvaro Ortiz has his sights set on a second Mexico Open title as he heads into the weekend with a share of the lead at the PGA Tour event at Puerto Vallarta.

Ortiz delighted the home crowd with a seven-under par round of 64 and sits atop the leaderboard along with England’s Matt Wallace, Finland’s Sami Valimaki and American Jake Knapp, all on 11-under.

Ortiz teed off on 10 and made five birdies on his first nine holes then added an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole.

“It was pretty solid. From tee to green it was as good as it could be. I hit the ball very well and just felt very comfortable out there,” the 28-year-old said.

“It was very clean, very stress free and I was glad to be able to make that eagle on six. I feel like I was losing a little bit of momentum leaving a couple putts go, but it was good to get that one back. Happy to be in the position I’m in,” he added.

Ortiz won the event in 2021 when it was part of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and having played college golf at the University of Arkansas and clinching the 2019 Latin American Amateur Championship he now plays on the second tier Korn Ferry Tour.

The Guadalajara native said he is enjoying the backing of the Mexican crowd at Vidanta Vallarta.

“It’s awesome, it’s awesome to have my family, to have my friends, to have my people. We don’t get to play much in Mexico, so it’s pretty cool to be out here, to be playing well and feel the support from them,” he said.

Wallace also made eagle on the sixth during a blistering five-under on his final nine holes as he made up for two bogeys on the 10th, his first hole, and the 15th.

Valimaki has won twice on the DP World Tour and put himself in contention despite bogeys on the second, 13th and 14th.

The 25-year-old from Nokia finished strongly with birdies on the par-3 17th and par-5 18th.

Knapp had a chance to grab the solo lead as the light faded but saw his seven foot birdie putt on the 18th lip out.

The American rookie however was happy to have carded a bogey-free 64 with the highlight a 27-foot birdie putt on the par-3 11th.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen was a shot behind the leading quartet after following up his opening round 63 with a solid 69.

Americans Andrew Novak and Mark Hubbard were both two shots further back on 134.

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