Bogey-free through 36 holes, Thelen opens three-shot lead in Mazatlán
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Written by Staff, PGA @PGATOUR
MAZATLÁN, Mexico – Trailing by one at the start of the day, Joel Thelen charged to the top of the Dev Series Final leaderboard by firing a 9-under 62 Thursday. Moving to 15-under 127 and bogey-free through 36 holes, the Fort Worth, Texas, native has opened a three-shot lead over 26-year-old Jordan Costello of Pinedale, Wyoming. Coming off an opening 68 that included a hole-in-one, Costello fired a bogey-free 62 of his own to share the low score of the day with Thelen at Estrella del Mar Golf Club.
Costello is solo second at 12-under, two shots ahead of Venezuela’s Manuel Torres, who carded a 65, and the opening-round leader John Greco of Sunnyvale, California, who posted a 68. The leading trio (no ties) at the conclusion of the 72-hole event will secure exempt status for 2024 PGA TOUR Americas’ Latin American Swing events.
Carding a 67 Thursday to tie for fifth, Fernando Arzate remains the leading Mexican player. At 9-under for the week, he is joined by Gabriel Cadena of Colombia and Samuel Anderson of Stoughton, Wisconsin. The players finishing the tournament ranked fourth through tenth will walk away with 2024 PGA TOUR Americas conditional status.
“I don’t know if I have gone 36 holes without a bogey before. Obviously, I’m pleased with it,” said the 33-year-old Thelen of his flawless start at a course he had played in the past on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and the Mexican Tour.
Thelen had four birdies in a span of five holes twice during his round, going birdie-birdie-birdie-par-birdie off No. 3 and then going birdie-par-birdie-birdie-birdie off No. 11. He added one last birdie on 18 to extend his lead to three shots. “I really wanted that birdie at the last, because it gave me half of them for the day,” he added of his nine-birdie day.
The Dev Series Final is familiar territory for Thelen, who came to this event in 2021 to secure full exempt status on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. His solid 2022 season in Latin America was followed by a spot at the next level via his top-40 finish at the Korn Ferry Tour Q-School.
“When I came for the 2021 Dev Series Final and finished top-5, it was actually a really nice springboard for me. That was a step back initially, but I played well on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and earned Korn Ferry Tour status, so it was two steps forward from there. I’m optimistic, looking at this the same way. I lost my Korn Ferry Tour status this year, but my game feels good and maybe this is just another two steps forward coming from here,” said Thelen, who was slowed by a wrist injury in 2023 while making the cut in just 9 of his 21 Korn Ferry Tour starts.