LEON, Mexico – In the second group off of No. 1 this morning, Michael Putnam carded two eagles on his opening nine holes at El Bosque Country Club. He would go on to make four birdies coming in and fire a bogey-free 8-under-par 64 to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Mexico Championship on the Web.com Tour.
Due to a one-hour weather delay in the afternoon, first-round play was suspended for the day at 8:11 p.m. due to darkness with 26 players still on the course.
In a share of second place two back are Argentina’s Clodomiro Carranza, who finished third on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica's Order of Merit in 2012, Australia’s James Nitties and Mathew Goggin and PGA Tour veteran Jeff Klauk.
Wes Roach, Nick Rousey, Colombia’s Manuel Marizalde, Stephan Jaeger and 2009 Mexico Championship winner Troy Merritt share sixth place at 5 under 67.
With perfect weather and smooth greens to start the day, Putnam took advantage of his draw and was eager to talk about his good fortune.
“I got lucky," Putnam revealed about his second shot into No. 1. “On the first hole I wasn’t trying to hit it at the pin. I was going for the green but was trying to leave myself a long putt, and just pushed it right at the pin and it ended up six feet from the hole.”
After that eagle putt went in, the Pepperdine University alum wouldn’t make another sub-par score until he got to the 546-yard, par-5 eighth hole.
After a huge drive, Putnam hit an 8-iron to 10 feet and made that putt for his second eagle on his front nine. The last time he made two eagles in a round was the 2009 Utah Championship and those were not on the same nine.
The first-day leader felt he could be aggressive with the calm conditions and also expressed the importance of taking advantage of his morning starting time.
“There was no wind today and the greens were a little soft so we could attack the pins,” he said. “It’s important to get off to a good start, which I did today, because tomorrow’s round in the afternoon is going to be tough.”
Carranza was able to finish strong with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 despite a few near-misses toward the end of his opening round. The Argentine believes that he can stay at this pace no matter the conditions Friday afternoon.
“I think that tomorrow the greens will dry out and it will play firmer,” he said. “It will be tougher out there but I believe that I can play just as well tomorrow.”
Nitties, who tied for fourth at this tournament in 2011, feels comfortable here and is really embracing everything about Leon.
“I’ve got some good memories here, I like the course and I’ve played well here,” the PGA Tour veteran explained. “I like this place, I like the town and it’s a good tournament. So, I have some good feelings and find it fun to be out here.”
Bhavik Patel had a double eagle on the eigith hole. After a drive of more than 400 yards, the California native really liked his number into the green even though his ball ran through the fairway and into the rough.
“I had a perfect number in to the green because there is a ridge behind the hole,” he explained. “I didn’t get it as high up the ridge as I wanted to, but right when it hit it was just tracking. As it was coming back it just looked good the whole way and I’m fortunate it went in.”
Patel faltered a bit coming in and carded a 1-under 71, and is tied for 36th place.