Mulroy, Merritt share lead at Mexico Open

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Garth Mulroy will take a lead into the final day with Troy Merritt, but both still have one hole to play in Round 3.
September 05, 2009
PGA TOUR staff

Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. -- Almost. The weather-plagued 51st Mexico Open is almost back on schedule. Rain delays, lightning threats and a saturated golf course have prevented each of the first three rounds at the El Bosque Golf Club from finishing on time. While 72 players needed to return to the course Saturday morning to finish the second round, only 10 players will be required to return on Sunday morning to complete round three, including co-leaders Garth Mulroy and Troy Merritt.

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Mulroy and Merritt are tied at 12-under par and managed to hit their tee shots on the par-5, 18th hole but elected not to try and finish the hole. As it was, they'd already played some 22 minutes past sunset.

"Looking back, I probably shouldn't even have hit that tee shot," said Mulroy, whose ball wound up in the hazard that guards the right side of the fairway. "None of us knew where the balls went. We couldn't see. I shouldn't have hit it but then that's not a tee shot you want to sleep on either."

Merritt and the third member of the group, Kevin Chappell, both hit their tee shots into the left rough on the 567-yard hole. Had it not been for another stoppage of play, this one lasting 1:05, everyone would have made it and round four would begin on time.

"I didn't think we'd get as far as we did," said Mulroy about the delay. "I thought maybe we would get to 15 at best."

Australia's Andrew Buckle polished off a 7-under 65 to reach 10-under 206. Wil Collins of Albuquerque and former Florida Gator Camilo Benedetti both posted 68s and currently share fourth place at 9-under 207.

Mulroy, a co-leader after the first round and the 36-hole leader by one, was steady during the stop-and-start day that lasted more than 12 hours. He finished up nine holes in round two in the morning and came back to play bogey-free for 17 holes in round three, but managing only three birdies on the day.

"I don't know what the problem was today but I was hitting everything long," said Mulroy. "Maybe it was the moisture, who knows, but we were 10 to 15 yards long on everything."

Merritt, a 24-year old rookie from Boise State, kept pace with his more experienced playing partner, tossed in a half dozen birdies to counter one bogey and make up the two-stroke deficit he faced when the round started.

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Second-Round Notes:

• Second-round play resumed at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning with 72 back on the course to complete play. Jason Buha did not return to the course and is listed as a withdrawl.

• An additional 0.5" of rain fell overnight, pushing the total to more than three inches of rain this week.

• Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for Round 2.

• South Africa's Garth Mulroy carded a 5-under 31 on his final nine Saturday morning to reach 9-under 135. Mulroy, a first-round, co-leader, shot a 6-under 66 that included nine birdies.

• UCLA's Kevin Chappell, who finished T5 at last week's Northeast Pennsylvania Classic tripled-bogey his final hole of the day, the 486-yard, 9th for a 7-under 65 and an 8-under total of 136. Chappell was 7-under par through eight holes on the front nine (his final nine) when he ran into trouble. The 2008 NCAA Champion hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker (right) and then came up 40 yards short on his second shot. His third shot spun off the front of the green, about 23 feet from the pin. Chappell's chip scooted four feet past the hole. He short downhill putt for bogey hit the right side of the cup and spun to the left. Without taking much time, Chappell stepped up and missed from two feet for double-bogey. Chappell finished the round with 10 birdies, an eagle, two bogeys and a triple and still posted the best score of the opening-36, a 7-under 65.

• The scoring average for the second round was 72.340, well below the opening round average of 75.105

Henrik Bjornstad made the cut, giving him 10 straight this year. Bjornstad, a third-place finisher at last week's Northeast Pennsylvania Classic and No. 16 on the 2009 money list, posted rounds of 71-71.

Matt Hendrix (75-69) is now 4-for-4 in cuts made this year. The former Clemson star began the year with no status on any Tour. He was a Monday qualifier at the Christmas In October Classic two weeks ago and finished T23, which earned him a berth in last week's Northeast Pennsylvania, where here finished T13 and earned a spot in this week's field.

• Mexico's Octavio Gonzalez made the biggest leap of the round with a 6-under 66. Gonzalez started the second round in 122nd place after an opening 79. He jumped 82 spots to a tie for 40th.

• Nebraska's Steve Friesen made the second biggest jump of the round with his 67. Friesen moved up from a T112 to a T40 after 36 holes.

• Australia's Steven Bowditch ended a string of seven consecutive missed cuts with rounds of 74-70. Bowditch had made only one cut in his last 10 starts and three of 15 this year. He is No. 198 on the money list.

• Argentina's Miguel Carballo moved into contention with a second-round 66. Carballo entered the week with only one cut made in his last his last 11 starts, a T17 at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open.

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Third-Round Notes:

• Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for Round 3.

• Play suspended at 5:25 p.m. due to threatening conditions. The threesome of D.J. Brigman (72), Michael Putnam (73) and Brenden Pappas (73) were able to complete play just before the suspension. No other groups finished at the time. The final groups had just made the turn when the horn sounded. Play resumed at 6:30 p.m.

Steven Bowditch's third-round 66 was not only his lowest round of the year but also his lowest since the 2007 Albertsons Boise Open, where he posted a 65 in round two -- that's a span of 86 rounds for the Aussie.

• Five players in the top 25 made the cut this week: 9. Derek Lamely, 10. Garth Mulroy, 11. Cameron Percy, 16. Henrik Bjornstad and 20. Alistair Presnell.

• Former Florida Gator Matt Every carded a 7-under 65 that could have been much, much better. Every had nine birdies on the day but missed three eagle putts inside of 12 feet. He three-putted for bogey twice, once from 20 feet and once from only 3 feet. He also missed three more birdie putts of 10, 10 and 7 feet.

"That was absolutely the worst score I could have had today," he said. "I've putted horribly for the past three days. I turned something in the 50s into a 65."

• The third round will resume at 8:00 a.m. The fourth round is expected to begin around 8:45 a.m. Play will be in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees

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