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Friday's golf: Grillo shoot 63 to build 4-shot lead at Mayakoba Classic

Associated Press

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico — Emiliano Grillo made birdie on half of the holes Friday on his way to an 8-under 63 that gave him a four-shot lead going into the weekend at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

The second round was delayed by one hour by heavy rain in the morning, and it was not completed before it was too dark to continue. No one was close enough to catch Grillo, who was at 13-under 129. It will be only the fifth time in 136 starts on the PGA Tour that he has a share of the lead after any round.

Emiliano Grillo

Tony Finau one-putted six consecutive holes in the middle of his round, four of them par saves and none tap-ins, and posted a 66. He was at 9-under 133, along with Tom Hoge, who had a 67.

Justin Thomas, at No. 3 the highest-ranked player in the field, was zooming into contention with five birdies and an eagle through 12 holes. His momentum stalled, however, particularly with bogeys on his last two holes. Thomas had to settle for a 67 and was 10 shots behind.

But he’s still playing, which won’t be the case for Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Fowler was in position for an easy birdie on the par-5 13th hole when he sent a long iron well to the right into the trees for a lost ball. That led to bogey, and he dropped another shot on the 17th that led to a 1-over 72. The cut would not be made until Saturday, though Fowler looked certain to miss by one shot.

With no events left this year, Fowler is likely to fall out of the top 50 in the world for the first time since 2010, his first full year on the PGA Tour. He still is not eligible for the Masters next April, though he would have three months at the start of next year to either win or get into the top 50 by the end of March.

Koepka, coming off a pair of top 10s in the Houston Open and the Masters, had another 71 and finished at even-par 142. He was in reasonable shape until three-putting from about 8 feet on the par-5 fifth hole for a bogey, his 14th of the round. He made birdie on the par-3 eighth, but will miss by one shot.

Among those still on the course was former U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree, who turned pro after finishing low amateur at the Masters. Ogletree was at 7 under with three holes remaining.

Grillo made five birdies on the front nine to catch Finau and Hoge, who played in the morning. After a bogey at No. 10, the Argentine hit his stride with his great iron play and ran off three straight birdies.

As it began to get dark, Grillo stuffed a wedge into about 4 feet on the 17th for his ninth birdie of the round, and he elected to finish the 18th after the horn sounded to stop play because of darkness.

Russell Knox, who had the 18-hole lead after a 65, shot a 69 and was alone in fourth at 8-under 134. The group one shot further back included Kyle Stanley and Joel Dahmen, each with a 67, and Aaron Wise (68).

Finau has been among the top 20 in the world dating to August 2018, even though his lone victory on the PGA Tour remains the Puerto Rico Open in 2016.

“I learned this game doesn’t owe you anything. You’ve got too earn everything you have, earn all your wins,” Finau said. “It’s been a long time coming I feel like for (win) No. 2. Hopefully, it happens here in a couple of days.

Steve Stricker, the 53-year-old Ryder Cup captain, shot 70 and was at 3-under 139. It was the sixth time in 12 starts on the PGA Tour that he made the cut.

Carlos Ortiz, playing for the first time since the Mexican earned his first PGA Tour title in the Houston Open last month, had a 68 and was seven shots behind.

LPGA Tour

Jessica Korda was prepared for another bone-chilling round at Old American Golf Club. Maybe, a bit too prepared.

“My immediate regret when I was on the front nine my kneecaps started to sweat and I didn’t have pants I could take off,” Korda said. “What a beautiful day today was. I know it was really cold this morning, but way less wind than we could have imagined having, so spectacular day.”

At the end of the day Friday, the 27-year-old Floridian had a share of the lead in the Volunteers of America Classic with Anna Nordqvist and 19-year-old Yealimi Noh.

After the temperature never made it out of the 40s on Thursday, it was in the high 50s on Friday in the final tuneup before the U.S. Women’s Open next week at Champions Golf Club in Houston.

“I kept telling my caddie,'Today would have been so nice to go on a hike with your dog, a cup of coffee, say how grateful you are for everything in your life,’” Korda said.

Korda shot her second straight 2-under 69. The five-time LPGA Tour winner played the first 12 holes in 4 under, then dropped a stroke on the par-5 13th and parred the final five.

European Tour

Andy Sullivan shot a 4-under 68 Friday and will take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Golf in Dubai Championship.

The Englishman, who a day earlier had come within a stroke of tying the European Tour record for the lowest 36-hole score, made five birdies to go 21 under overall after three rounds at the Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Matt Wallace (67) was two strokes off the lead heading into Saturday.

Sullivan bogeyed the 10th hole but finished strong with birdies on the 16th and 17th.

“Ten through to 14, I didn’t really swing it that great,” said Sullivan, who shot 61 and 66 in the first two rounds. “But I found some good swings coming in … and managed to get a couple of birdies.”

Sullivan’s one victory this season came at the English Championship in August, when he finished at 27-under par for a seven-stroke win.

Wallace bogeyed the ninth hole but added four birdies on the back nine.

“I hit a really bad shot on 9, which could have got to me and it would have got to me probably in the past, but I know that I’m swinging it well,” Wallace said. “I’m going to have loads of chances tomorrow.”

Ross Fisher (68) and Renato Paratore (65) are tied for third at 18 under.

South African Open

Jamie Donaldson took a share of the lead after two rounds Friday with a 9-under 63, one shot off the course record.

The Welshman, a Ryder Cup player, made 10 birdies at Gary Player Country Club and only a bogey on the par-4 No. 4 prevented him from equaling Lee Westwood’s course record from 2011. He finished with a pair of birdies.

Donaldson joined South African player Christiaan Bezuidenhout (67) at the top of the leaderboard at 10 under overall.

Bezuidenhout stayed on track for back-to-back wins after victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, also in South Africa, last weekend. Justin Rose in 2017 was the last player to win European Tour tournaments in consecutive weeks.

Bezuidenhout could have led but missed a close-range birdie putt on No. 18.

The co-leaders have a two-shot advantage over two more South African players tied for second, including Dylan Frittelli (68).

Frittelli is seeking his first win on the tour since 2017, and after a breakthrough of sorts at a major tournament this year when he finished tied for fifth at the Masters. Frittelli’s cause was aided on Friday by a chip in for birdie from near the bunker on the par-3 No. 3.

He is at 8 under along with Dean Burmester (69).