Mexico City – New Zealand’s Danny Lee, seeking his first US PGA Tour title in more than four years, fired a nine-under-par 62 on Friday to grab the first-round lead at the Mayakoba Classic.
The 29-year-old South Korean-born player made eight birdies and an eagle against a lone bogey in jumping to the top of the leaderboard at Playa del Carmen, Mexico, after play was entirely rained out on Thursday.
Americans Brendon Todd and Adam Long shared second on 63 with a US pack of Vaughn Taylor, Mark Hubbard, Zach Johnson and Chris Baker on 64 and Americans Billy Horschel and Harris English on 65.
Lee opened with a birdie, made another at the par-3 fourth and then eagled the par-5 fifth hole before running off a streak of three birdies in a row from the sixth through eighth holes.
Lee ran off another three in a row from the 11th to par-5 13th holes before a three-putt bogey at 14 and four closing pars.
“For some reason, starting from three, my game felt really, really good,” Lee said, noting how he has changed his swing to add driving distance.
“The new swing is working into my body now. I’m feeling better with all my clubs and wedges. It has been showing me a lot of good results.”
The only PGA victory for Lee came at the 2015 Greenbrier Classic in a four-man playoff with a par on the second extra hole. He also captured the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic on the European Tour as a 19-year-old amateur.
Lee finished second at the CJ Cup in South Korea last month and was second in last year’s Mayakoba Classic to American Matt Kuchar.
England’s Luke Donald and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell opened on 66 to share 10th.
Scores after Friday’s opening round of the storm-hit US PGA Mayakoba Classic from Playa del Carmen, Mexico (par 71, USA unless noted):
62 – Danny Lee (NZL)
63 – Brendon Todd, Adam Long
64 – Vaughn Taylor, Mark Hubbard, Zach Johnson, Chris Baker
65 – Billy Horschel, Harris English
66 – Sam Ryder, Brian Gay, Dylan Frittelli (RSA), Graeme McDowell (NIR), Abraham Ancer (MEX), Luke Donald (ENG), Scottie Scheffler, Robby Shelton, Russell Henley, Bronson Burgoon, Chez Reavie, Chris Stroud, Alvaro Ortiz (MEX), Bo Hoag
67 – Ben Martin, Henrik Norlander (SWE), Matthew NeSmith, Sebastian Vazquez (MEX), Nick Taylor (CAN), Zac Blair, Patton Kizzire
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 16, 2019