Kizzire continues strong start at OHL Classic
November 09, 2017
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Patton Kizzire's shot kisses the flagstick at OHL Classic at Mayakoba
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – By his own admission Rickie Fowler hasn’t played much golf.
Maybe that’s a good thing.
In his first start after a season that saw him rack up a win and nine other top-10 finishes, Fowler cruised in the first round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He shot an opening-round 65 that was bettered only by Patton Kizzire (62) and Vaughn Taylor (64), making six birdies and getting up and down five times in five chances to keep a clean card.
“Touch and feel is a big thing coming off of—I think we've had roughly a month off, five weeks or so,” Fowler said. “So when the feel is somewhat there, it frees you up to know that you can get away with some missed shots and it allows you to swing a bit freer.”
Playing in the fourth to last group, Web.com Tour graduate Brandon Harkins also shot 65.
The highest ranked player in this week’s field (10th), Fowler hit eight of 14 fairways and 13 greens in regulation. He took 26 putts. The 28-year-old has traditionally started his season in Asia, but he skipped the TOUR’s three-week swing in Malaysia, South Korea and China. That left him looking for a place to play, and he had heard glowing reviews of Mayakoba. He hasn’t been disappointed, soaking up the sun with girlfriend Allison Stokke since Saturday.
As an added bonus, Fowler’s game seems well-suited for the 6,987-yard, par-71 El Camaleon Golf Club. Then again, his game lately seems well-suited to just about any course with 18 holes.
“I had a really fun pro-am group,” he said. “I think they ended up going on to win. My crew started off with a win this week, I might as well finish it for the group on Sunday.
“But off to a good start. Definitely want to play well down here being my first showing at Mayakoba. Yeah, I couldn’t really ask for much more today.”
KIZZIRE CITES DUFNER INFLUENCE. The 6-foot-5, Auburn product Patton Kizzire drove into a fairway bunker and bogeyed 18, but his 62 was still his career low by one. It also continued a torrid early-season run in which Kizzire tied for fourth at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and finished T10 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. One of his best results last season? A T5 with partner Jason Dufner at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. “He's been a good mentor, a good friend,” Kizzire said. “He's taken me under his wing and shown me a few things. We'll play practice rounds together occasionally and just hang out. We'll go to football games together and he's a good one to pick his brain and to play with because he's awfully confident.”
MITCHELL SURPASSES FATHER. Keith Mitchell aced the 200-yard 10th hole with a 6-iron on his first swing of the day. It was only 8:30 a.m., and there were so few people around the green that Mitchell and playing partners Tom Hoge and Rob Oppenheim weren’t sure what had happened. “We heard a small clap,” said Mitchell, who went on to shoot 66. “It was pretty subdued.” It was his fourth hole-in-one and first since college, and he wasn’t sure where he stood relative to his dad, Jerry, who had made either three or four in his career. Mitchell, a Web.com Tour grad who missed the cut in his first three starts this season, texted his father in North Carolina and went to lunch. He later texted the PGA TOUR the verdict: “1 up.”
GOOSEN TURNS BACK CLOCK. Good results have been few and far between for the two-time U.S. Open winner, who was in a large group at 66 despite making bogey at the par-5 fifth hole. Goosen, 48, opened last season by missing seven straight cuts before finishing T2 at the Puerto Rico Open. He wound up 162nd in the FedExCup, and was 176th in strokes gained: putting (-.425). Thursday saw him hit eight of 14 fairways and 12 greens in regulation. He took 26 putts and looked more like the guy who has won seven times on TOUR.
HAPPY NEWS FOR CHINA. Xinjun Zhang eagled the par-5 13th hole to join Goosen in the large group at 5-under 66. Zhang and Marty Dou played their way off the Web.com Tour last season to become the first players from China to earn their cards on the PGA TOUR. Now it’s just a matter of staying there. In three previous starts this season, Zhang had finished T37 at the Safeway Open, T44 at the no-cut World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and missed the cut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
GARY WOODLAND – A year after finishing second to Pat Perez at El Camaleon, Woodland was at it again, lurking after a 3-under 68 that included an eagle at the par-5 13th hole.
KEVIN CHAPPELL – After a season that saw him win for the first time and make a successful Presidents Cup debut, he shot a 4-under 67. It’s been a good time for UCLA golf grads; Patrick Cantlay picked up his first win at last week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
FABIAN GOMEZ – He’s the leading Latin American player after firing a 5-under 66.
KEN DUKE – Monday qualifier got off to a solid start with a 68.
“We got here on Saturday, but didn’t touch a club until Tuesday.” – Rickie Fowler (65) on how he’s been making the most of the extracurricular activities at Mayakoba.
“I knew my game was in good shape.” – Keith Mitchell (66), who made a quintuple-bogey 9 in round one of last week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open but missed the cut by just one.
Longest drives: As expected, Cameron Champ, making his pro debut, led the field in driving distance, his two measured drives averaging 346.5 yards. Keith Mitchell (322.0) was second.
3s wild: Vaughn Taylor made nine 3s, including an eagle at the 13th hole. It all added up to 64 for the three-time TOUR winner, most recently at the 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Easiest hole: The 532-yard, par-5 13th played to a 4.424 stroke average. Among the leaders, only Martin Piller (66) failed to make at least a birdie there. Vaughn Taylor, Brandon Harkins and Xinjun Zhang were among the leaders who eagled the cupcake hole.
Hardest hole: The 485-yard, par-4 16th played to a 4.326 stroke average.
Shot of the day: Mitchell’s hole-in-one on his first shot of the day was the eighth in tournament history, and the second time a player has started the OHL Classic at Mayakoba with an ace. Thomas Aiken did the same thing in 2015, also on the 10th hole and also with a 6-iron.
CALL OF THE DAY
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Alex Cejka holes out for eagle at OHL Classic at Mayakoba
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