Playa del Carmen, Mexico (NWN) — Matthew Wolfe arrived at Mayakoba and quickly realized El Camelion might not be a good course for the length of his “rag dog.” Then again, he’s playing so well it doesn’t matter.
Wolff hit only one driver on Thursday, followed his script to keep the ball in play and cracked 10-under 61 to match his career low on the PGA Tour. This gave him a two-shot lead between early starts at the World Wide Technology Championships.
Aaron Wise got off to a good start, going from 8 under to 10. No one got off to a better start than Chris Kirk, who opened the par-3 10th with a 6-iron, which he didn’t get until he realized it was for a hole in the cup.
Wolfe held it steady from start to finish, a round so efficient that it was only later that he realized he had a course record at the resort along the Gulf of Mexico.
“As I finished the round, my caddy said to me, ‘You know, I’ve been doing a lot of rounds for you and it wasn’t what I thought would be the lowest,'” Wolff said. “It was very steady. The birdie came evenly throughout the round, didn’t really make any mistakes. … I was comfortable on every shot.”
There is some serious rest in Wolff’s game at the moment, which is headed in this direction as he has learned not to let his score affect his outlook on life.
He last played at the Shriners Hospitals Open in Las Vegas three weeks ago, and he had a chunk of the lead with nine holes to play, until Sungjae Im left all with 62. Wolff finished alone in second.
This break gave the 22-year-old Californian time to focus serious on his game with swing coach Jorge Gankas. The result was feeling confident in his setup, which feeds through the rest of his athletic game.
His only driver was on Par-5 13 on Thursday.
“It’s obviously cool to be able to chirp a dog because that’s a huge advantage,” Wolff said. “I can carry some stuff that most people can’t, so obviously I like courses on which I can hit the driver. But I think every other player—including me—when we’re good Playing, I mean, it doesn’t matter if a course doesn’t suit you well.
“When you’re on, you’re on,” he said. “And stuff was going right for me.”
Nothing was going right for Justin Thomas, who went from 3 overs to 11 holes and was at the bottom of the pack. He birdied 68 in six of his last seven holes.
A year earlier, Thomas was lagging when he scored 62 runs to at least give himself a chance to go through to the final round. He was on par for 12th. So he is not the fastest starter in Mayakoba. Another slow start at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas was more troubling until he closed with 64.
“I should be and I would be more than pleased with the turnaround, but for the time being I have to figure out how to start a little better,” Thomas said.
Kirk was in the first group, the par-3 started on 10th and thought it was a perfect 6-iron from 204 yards. He couldn’t see very clearly at dawn, but he knew he hit a good shot and his caddy thought he saw it rolling on the green. But there was no ball on the green ball.
“It was mild enough to see what we were doing, but I hit a really good shot and saw it went well and that was it,” Kirk said. “Once we got there and didn’t see the ball on the green, we had a pretty good idea of where it might be. But Jonas (Blixt) and Danny (Lee) got up to the first hole and saw the immediate reaction of the weapons in the air and started clapping.
“it was very nice.”
He had another eagle on the 13th before dropping a shot around the turn. He wound up with a 64 tied with Billy Horschel.
Ricky Fowler started with a 66 with Ian Poulter trying to break into the top 50 in the world. Tony Finau was in the group on 67, while Brooks Koepka and Shane Lowry had to settle for 71.
Defending champions Victor Hovland and Sergio Garcia were among those in the afternoon.
More NWN Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports