PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico - Olympia's Andres Gonzales, still in search of his first PGA Tour cut, put himself in pretty good position Thursday at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
Gonzales, along with friend and Gig Harbor golfer Kyle Stanley, was among a group of four atop the tournament’s leaderboard at 5-under-par 66 after the first round. They were joined by David Toms, bidding for his first PGA Tour win in more than five years, and Mark Hensby.
On a partly cloudy day with temperatures in the lows 80s, the wind gusted to 25 mph on the Greg Norman-designed El Camalen course on the Caribbean coast.
Gonzales, a PGA Tour rookie who missed the cut in his first two starts of the season, played the back nine in 5-under 30. The former UNLV player birdied No. 11, eagled the par-5 13th and birdied the final two holes.
“The wind was very consistent. It was consistently strong. It never really let down,” said Gonzales, who prepped at Capital High School. “You had to concentrate a lot out there. You had to pay attention to every shot out there, including putts.”
Gonzales toured the front side in even-par 36 – making birdie on the par-5 opening hole before giving it back with a bogey on the par-4 fourth.
“I hit a lot of fairways today,” Gonzales said. “Easier to score. The wind is definitely up out there, so every shot you have to concentrate. Really, everything so far has been fun. I’ve missed two cuts by a couple shots, so first round out here is still a blast either way.
“I played Pebble Beach before we came here. It was a treat, my first time out there, and really just had a lot of fun and have enjoyed everything I’ve been doing so far.”
Stanley, who like Gonzales plays out of Tacoma Country and Golf Club, blistered the front nine with four birdies on the way to a 32.
He stumbled briefly on the back with a bogey at the par-3 10th, then dropped to 3 under with another bogey at the par-4 15th. However, he finished his round with back-to-back birdies at 17 and 18 to move into a tie for the lead.
“I did a really good job controlling my golf ball,” Stanley said. “I think I made three or four putts over 20 feet for birdie, so that was nice. But, yeah, pretty much (I) just did a good job on the greens.”
Like Gonzalez, Stanley totaled 29 putts for his round.
Toms, winless since the Sony Open in Hawaii in January 2006, had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine to make the turn at 4 under. The 12-time winner on the PGA Tour dropped a stroke on No. 11, then closed with birdies on Nos. 16 and 18.
Defending champion Cameron Beckman was a stroke back along with Kent Jones, Briny Baird, Chris Tidland, Alexandre Rocha and Sunghoon Kang.