LOS CABOS, Mexico (AP) — Cameron Percy of Australia had only one birdie over his last five holes and still matched his best score on the PGA Tour, a 10-under 62 that gave him a two-shot lead Thursday in the World Wide Technology Championship.
Percy holed a 70-yard wedge for eagle on the sixth hole and made just about everything he looked at to reach 9 under through 13 holes, with two reachable par 5s still to play.
But he three-putted from just short of the green on the 14th and the putts he had been making stopped going in. He holed a 15-foot putt on the par-5 closing hole at El Cardonal at Diamante to match the score he shot in Las Vegas in 2010.
“I couldn’t make ’em all,” Percy said with a grin.
He led by two over Camilo Villegas and Michael Kim, who both played in the morning, and Nat Lashley and Tano Goya, who played in the afternoon. Scoring conditions were ideal all day with wide fairways, smooth greens and wind that was more refreshing than it was a menace.
Getting just as much attention as the players was Tiger Woods, who designed El Cardonal, his first course used for a PGA Tour event. Woods always enjoyed a course where par was no picnic and players faced options. The lack of wind made birdies a must to keep pace.
The average score was 69.5 as more than half the 132-man field shots in the 60s. Play was suspended by darkness with 10 players unable to finish.
Percy turns 50 next May and plans to go to Q-school for the PGA Tour Champions. Ideally, he would keep playing kids half his age, and a start like this had him going in that direction. Percy, who has never won on the PGA Tour, is at No. 152 in the FedEx Cup.
The top 125 keep full status for 2024. The top 150 would have conditional status, which would lead to a full schedule considering the $20 million signature events for the leading players.
“Finishing top 150 at my age would be fantastic,” Percy said. “I want to at least do that, but if I can keep the ball rolling like I did today, I should be able to finish a lot higher than that, and then lead into Q-School with the Champions Tour. Yeah, I’m looking forward to that.”
Villegas knows the feeling, minus Champions Q-school. The 41-year-old Colombian, a four-time PGA Tour winner, split time between the Korn Ferry Tour and whatever PGA Tour events he could get in this year. He is No. 223 in the FedEx Cup with three tournaments remaining.
“Obviously, it’s huge, especially next year where we’ve got all those elevated events and who knows what the field are going to be,” Villegas said. “But hey, I’m not worried about that. I’ve been out here a long time. Yes, I want to be out here for many more years, but things don’t change, man. Wake up every morning to the same things and play good, get better and you just got to let rest take care of business.”
Cameron Young, who hasn’t played since the BMW Championship in August, and Matt Kuchar were among those one shot behind, along with qualifier Jeffrey Kang, who had one hole left.
Ludvig Aberg, who turned pro in June and played in the Ryder Cup for Europe in September, cooled after a good start and had to settle for a 68.
The tournament had been at Mayakoba, which now hosts a LIV Golf event.
“A lot of this place is very generous fairways. Fairways are pretty easy to find,” Kuchar said. “It’s I think kind of a second-shot golf course, back nine even more so than the front nine.”
Kuchar is No. 66 and wasn’t aware he could get into at least two of the $20 million “signature events” until late in the regular season. He stuck to what he enjoys, however, going over to Europe for a few weeks to play the Dunhill Links Championship and Andalucia Masters.
Young, at No. 17 the highest-ranked player in the field, didn’t play at all. He missed out on the Tour Championship, and then was left off the Ryder Cup team. The break did him well. Young said he practiced consistently for two months.
“It’s been years since I’ve actually been home for that long,” Young said. “Just the ability to go out and really try some things and work through some issues that I felt like I had was honestly kind of fun for me. I haven’t had the chance to do that without the pressure of an event coming up in a long time.
“And two, I think very productive. I think I learned some things in my golf swing. It’s nice to come out and see them kind of work in the first competitive round.”
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