Russell Henley fired a second consecutive eight-under-par 63 to seize a three-stroke lead after Friday’s second round of the Mayakoba Championship.
The 33-year-old American, who shared the lead for three rounds at last year’s US Open before a Sunday collapse, stood on 16 under 126 after 36 holes at El Camaleon in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
“I felt great the last two days,” Henley said. “Mentally felt confident and believing in what I was doing. Hit a lot of fairways and had some nice par saves that kept my round going. Very happy with where I am.”
Will Gordon, who matched the lowest round of his career with a 62 on Thursday for the 18-hole lead, shot 67 to share second with countryman Sam Ryder on 13 under, one stroke ahead of American Patton Kizzire with Swede David Lingmerth fifth on 11 under.
South Africans Dean Burmester, MJ Daffue and Dylan Frittelli are all on four under (T55), while Erik van Rooyen (three under) and Garrick Higgo (level par) both missed the weekend cut.
World No 59 Henley won his first PGA title at the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii, took the 2014 Honda Classic and captured the most recent of his three career tour crowns at the 2017 Houston Open.
In January, Henley challenged for another Hawaii victory but lost in a playoff to Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.
Henley, who began on the back nine, ran off three birdies in a row starting at the 11th hole, added others at the 17th and 3rd and then ran off three in a row again at the par-four 6th, par-five 7th and par-three 8th holes.
“Definitely things were going my way,” Henley said. “A lot of my lag putts today and some of my chips weren’t great, but I ended up making the putt and keeping the round going in a great direction.”
Henley said tee shots have been crucial to his success.
“There are some intimidating tee shots for me and I just am trying to just commit to what I’m doing,” Henley said. “Just being in a good head space for those tee shots is a good start.”
Two-time defending champion Viktor Hovland of Norway, ranked 11th, fired a 69 to share 14th on eight under.
Second-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion who could regain the world No 1 ranking from Rory McIlroy with a victory, shot 71 to share 29th on six under.
Gordon and Ryder each seek a first PGA triumph. Gordon birdied the second and fourth holes of both the front and back nines. Ryder made seven birdies on the front side, opened the back nine with a bogey and went birdie-bogey at 15 and 16.
“I came out and just didn’t really miss much on the front, was playing really solid,” Ryder said. “Just got a little loose on the back … got a little out of sync there, but I managed it pretty well. I’m pretty happy with the way I got it around.”