Woodland takes over at the top in Mexico – Metro US

Woodland takes over at the top in Mexico

Woodland takes over at the top in Mexico

(Reuters) – Long-hitting American Gary Woodland, benefiting from a timely tune-up with his swing coach in Las Vegas last week, charged into a one-shot lead after the second round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico on Friday.

Woodland, showing improved form with his putter in near-perfect scoring conditions at El Camaleon Golf Club in the resort of Playa del Carmen, fired a flawless six-under-par 65 to post a 13-under total of 129.

Former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson was alone in second after firing a matching 65, with fellow American Scott Piercy a further stroke adrift at 11-under after carding a 66.

Woodland, who won the most recent of his two PGA Tour titles at the 2013 Reno-Tahoe Open, birdied three of his last four holes to set the pace after 36 holes.

“I’m very comfortable with where my game is right now,” the 32-year-old told Golf Channel after covering his homeward nine in four-under 31. “I drove the ball in the fairway all day today.

“We’ve changed a little bit with the putting and I’ve seen putts go in these last few days, more than I’ve seen all year, so we’ll just keep doing that.”

Woodland is making only his third start on the 2016-17 PGA Tour, having put down his golf clubs for a while to get married and have an extended break from the game.

“It was good, it was nice for my body to take some time off. My game was a little rusty in Asia but it was nice last week,” he said, referring to his form in Malaysia and China before he visited his swing coach, Butch Harmon, in Las Vegas.

“I saw Butch last week, and got dialed back in. I was playing good at the end of the year so kind of getting back to where we are right now and we are excited about the weekend.”

American Chris Kirk, the first-round leader after opening with a sizzling 63, returned a 70 on Friday to sit four shots off the pace in a seven-way tie for fourth.

Defending champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland was a further seven strokes back, having rebounded from an erratic 75 on Thursday to shoot a 65 and make the cut right on the number.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine)