Saturday's golf: English chips in and takes 1-shot lead at Mayakoba

Associated Press
Harris English

Playa del Carmen, Mexico — Harris English feels he got away from the basics that carried him to a promising start to his PGA Tour career. He hopes he’s headed in that direction again.

English holed a chip-and-run from off the 18th green Saturday for birdie and a 7-under 64, giving him the 36-hole lead at the Mayakoba Golf Classic as he tries to end six years without winning.

English was at 13-under 129, one shot ahead of Vaughn Taylor, who had a 66 in the afternoon. Brendon Todd, coming off a victory two weeks ago in Bermuda Championship, had a 68 and was two back.

“Just mainly working on the same stuff every day and kind of going back to the drawing board and figuring out what I was doing really well my first couple years on tour and just stick to that, not trying to reinvent the wheel,” English said.

Whatever he’s doing, English is on a roll.

He had to go back to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals after last season to regain his card. Since then, he has finished in the top 10 in three of his four tournaments.

Next up is a long day.

Because rain washed out all of Thursday, players will go as long as they can Sunday before darkness, with the 72-hole event concluding Monday. Even with the new policy of top 65 and ties making the cut, 82 players advanced to the final two rounds.

The course, which received more than 9 inches of rain from Monday through Thursday, dried remarkably well and the greens had plenty of pace. English motored along, rarely getting into too much trouble. He birdied his last two holes to set the pace.

English won at Mayakoba in 2013 when it was the final PGA Tour event of the year. That was his last win, 170 tournaments ago.

“I had a lot of success here and I love this place, love the greens,” English said. “Feel like if I can get it on the dance floor and hit 14, 15, 16 greens a round, I can give myself a chance. With this wind, anything can happen, but if I stay the course and keep hitting like I am, I’m in a good spot.”

So is Todd, who overcame a mental block — he called in the yips — of a big miss to the right that nearly drove him from the game. Todd got it sorted out and picked up loads of confident with his victory in the inaugural Bermuda event.

His only frustration was with putting.

“I hit it to 25 feet, 6 feet, 12 feet, 4 feet, and then missed a 12-footer for par on 5,” he said. “Striped it at the flag on 7, and on 8 I hit a close one in there about 10 feet and burned the edge. I just didn’t get the putts to fall in the second nine.”

Danny Lee, who started the tournament 10 under through 13 holes for a 62, shot 70 and was three shots back.

“Just missed a couple putts out there, made bogey on a couple par 5s,” he said. “Just golf happened.”

Jason Day, playing Mayakoba for the first time in 10 years as he tries to get ready for the Presidents Cup, shot 77 and missed the cut.

European Tour

Zander Lombard will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge and is in position to win his first European Tour title at his country’s most prestigious tournament.

The 24-year-old South African, who led by two strokes overnight, ground out a level-par 72 in the third round to move to 11 under par and stay ahead of compatriot Louis Oosthuizen (71) and Belgian Thomas Detry (69).

Lombard made a bogey on No. 6 and a double bogey on No. 8 but fought back with three birdies on the back nine.

Oosthuizen opened the tournament with a 63 and had a 72 in the second round. The 2010 British Open champion is chasing his first Sun City crown.

Oliver Wilson made a big move up the leaderboard with a 67 and is tied with Marcus Kinhult in fourth, three shots off the lead on 8 under.

Defending champion Lee Westwood, Race to Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger, Joachim B Hansen, Mikko Korhonen, Aaron Rai and Jason Scrivener are on 6 under.