Mulroy owns clubhouse lead at Mexico Open

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Garth Mulroy shot a first-round 68 at the Mexico Open, but several players are yet to finish Round 1.
September 03, 2009
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. -- South Africa's Garth Mulroy shot a 4-under 68 and grabbed the clubhouse lead in Thursday's weather-delayed opening round of the 51st Mexico Open presented by Corona Light. Mulroy birdied the final two holes at the El Bosque Golf Club for the lead, which stood up for much of the windswept afternoon.


Threatening conditions moved into the high plains during the mid-afternoon and forced a two-hour delay. No rains came but thunder was heard and lightning visible while the players waited it out. As a result of the stoppage, 63 players in the field of 144 did not complete Round 1. First-round play will resume at 8 a.m. Friday.

D.J. Brigman and Adam Bland share the lead at 4-under with Mulroy, who is No. 10 on the Nationwide Tour and the highest ranked player in this week's field. Brigman birdied four of his first five holes after making the turn and was able to complete 16 holes before play was halted for good because of darkness.

Bland made it through 14 holes when he was forced to stop.

Wil Collins, playing in the same group with Brigman, is 3-under and tied for fourth place with Matthew Richardson, who is through 13.

Australia's Alistair Presnell was in the first group off the tee in the morning and finished up with a 2-under 70. He is tied with veteran Bob May, who was one of nine players to complete play in the afternoon.

"I hit it nicely," said Mulroy, who is working on a swing change that will change his ball flight from a draw to a fade. "Obviously, when you make a change it won't click right away. The past three weeks I felt it's coming back."

Mulroy probably has a spot locked up for the PGA TOUR next year thanks to a win earlier this year at the South Georgia Classic but decided that he needed to cut down on some mistakes that were beginning to plague his game.

He is currently ranked No. 4 in driving distance (307.3 yards) but is a distant 124th in driving accuracy (63.11 percent).

"I don't really need too much more yardage," he said. "I'm just working on driving it straighter. It doesn't sound tough but it's been tough to do."

Brigman's slow climb up the leaderboard was the result of better putting.

"I finally made some putts," he said. "I've been burning the edges the last few weeks and we've been playing some courses where it's easy to get frustrated putting because 20-under is winning. When I started today I was happy to see that only a 4-under was on the board, knowing it wasn't going to be super easy."

The hardest thing this week might be club selection. The El Bosque Golf Club boasts an altitude of 6,800 feet -- higher than USA cities such as Denver and Lake Tahoe, Nev.

"You have to be good at mathematics this week," said Brigman of the altitude calculations and adjustments. "It depends on the weather out here. It fluctuates. You can go with the standard 10 percent, but I think it's only about eight percent in the morning and then it might be 12 percent in the afternoon."

The course has also changed dramatically since some early week rains soaked the 7,808-yard layout, the longest on the Nationwide Tour.

"It's still a very long golf course even with the altitude," said Presnell, one of the Tour's bigger hitters.

Kevin Chappell, the 2008 NCAA Champion from UCLA, was one of 10 players to post a 1-under 71 and is tied for 12th place.

"It's firming up," he said. "We got used to hitting balls and having them stop or come back to you. The adjustment period takes a little bit. I either judged it well or I judged it really, really poorly."

Chappell had six birdies and five bogeys to highlight his point.

"It's a big golf course, that's for sure," he said. "The back nine feels like you play 14 holes."


First-Round Notes

• Changes to the field prior to the start of play: David Skimms out and Eracleo Bermudez in. Cesar Coello out and Javier Esparza in. Alex Aragon out and Enrique Campos in.

• First-round play was suspended at 4 p.m. CT due to threatening conditions in the area with the entire afternoon wave on the golf course. Play resumed at 6:00 p.m.

• Play was suspended for the day at 7:52 p.m. due to darkness with 63 players left to complete their opening round. The first round will resume on Friday at 8:00 a.m.

• Round 2 will begin at 9:00 a.m. -- a one-hour delay from the original posted tee times.

• The par-72 El Bosque Golf Club is currently playing to a scoring average of 74.881.