Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. -- Troy Merritt had never been to Mexico before but the 24-year old from Idaho is discovering some success on his initial trip south of the border. Merritt's 4-under 68 Friday morning propelled him into sole possession of the clubhouse lead at the weather-plagued 51st Mexico Open presented by Corona Light. Merritt is at 7-under 137 after two trips around the El Bosque Golf Club and one shot better than England's Matthew Richardson (69).
Thursday's opening round was delayed for two hours late in the afternoon because of threatening conditions, forcing 63 players to return to the course and complete play. Friday morning's start was delayed an extra hour because heavy overnight thunderstorms dumped 1.75 inches of rain on an already-saturated golf course. Play was suspended again at 6:33 p.m. Friday because of more storms moving into the area. None of the 72 players in the afternoon group finished play.
Play was called for the day and will resume at 8:00 a.m. Saturday. The third round is expected to begin around 12:30 p.m.
Michigan's Brian Stuard is at 5-under through nine holes along with first-round, co-leader Garth Mulroy of South Africa. Mulroy birdied four of his first five holes in the afternoon to reach 8-under but gave three shots back to par on back-to-back holes.
The fact that Merritt is atop the leaderboard comes as a bit of a surprise. Merritt, who had made only five cuts in 10 starts this season, looked like he was headed for an early return to the states after beginning play Thursday with four consecutive bogeys.
"I was standing on the fifth tee box kind of in a bit of shock," he said. "Bogey-bogey-bogey-bogey, I don't remember the last time I did that. It was a matter of trying to regroup. There's no pressure when you start off that poor, all you have to do is try and hit good shots and work your way back one shot at a time."
Merritt, who won seven times during his senior year at Boise State, had dug himself holes before, but never like this one.
"Everybody goes through adversity and I've had my share just like everybody else," he said. "It's how you bounce back that defines you as a person."
Merritt's bounce-back was better than most. He played his next 10 holes in 5-under to get back to 1-under, when play was halted due to darkness. The two-time Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year picked up Friday morning where he left off, making two birdies in four holes to complete a 3-under 69.
"This is a very tough golf course," he said. "You have to put the ball in the fairway and you have to find the greens and you have to find the greens within 10 to 15 feet from the hole if you want to make some birdie putts."
Merritt stuffed it close to open the second round. His short iron play was stellar, leaving him with a handful of birdie putts inside of eight feet on his first nine holes. He made all of them to make the turn at 8-under.
"The front nine is tougher for me but I'm not sure why," he said after making two bogeys and just one birdie. "It might be something psychological. It was a not-so-impressive 1-over par but I'm happy with a 68."
• The start of play Friday was delayed one hour due to heavy overnight rains that produced 1.75" of rain at the El Bosque Golf Club.
• Here is what the leaderboard looked like following completion of the opening round:
• The scoring average for the first round was 75.105.
• The most difficult hole on the course for the opening round was the 536-yard, par-4, 6th hole, which played to an average of 4.664. The second hardest was the 486-yard, 9th hole, which had an average score of 4. 510. The hardest hole on Tour this year played to a four-day average of 4.431.
• Stuart Deane withdrew prior to the start of play Friday. Deane did not complete the first round.
• The second round began at 10 a.m.
• Richard T. Lee withdrew during the second round due to illness.
• First-round co-leader D.J. Brigman suffered back-to-back double bogeys midway through his back nine. He finished with a 4-over 76 and is at even-par.
• Martin Flores rebounded from an opening 79 with a 5-under 67 Friday. Flores had eight birdies on his round.
• Octavio Gonzalez did Flores one better, following up his 79 with a 66, the best round of the first two days.
• Jonathan Fricke birdied five holes in a row starting at No. 18 today. Unfortunately, he started his round and finished his round with double-bogeys and wound up at 3-over par. The projected cut line is 2-over 146.
• Dustin White opened his second round with a quadruple bogey-9 Friday afternoon.
• Dick Mast had an interesting finish to his day. The veteran closed with a triple/par/eagle/double sequence for a 3-over 75. Mast is at 6-over for the tournament.
• Rookie Patton Kizzire was one of two players to hit double-digits on a single hole today. Kizzire had a quintuple-bogey 10 on the par-5, 8th hole. Antonio Serna also had a 10 but his came at the par-4, 6th hole.