PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Joe Durant birdied five of the final eight holes for a 7-under 64 and a one-stroke lead Thursday in the PGA Tour’s Mayakoba Golf Classic.
The 45-year-old Durant, a four-time tour winner, played the front nine in 2 under, then birdied Nos. 11-13 and 16-17 for a back-nine 30 on the Mayakoba Resort’s Greg Norman-designed El Camaleon course.
“I would much rather have a good start than go in the opposite direction, that’s for sure,” Durant said. “I just felt comfortable out there today. Obviously, we have a long way to go, but having a good first round can set a nice tone for you the rest of the week. I just need to keep doing the same things and keep myself in the hunt.”
Cameron Beckman, Briny Baird, Jarrod Lyle and J.P. Hayes opened with 65s, and Tom Pernice Jr., Jason Gore, Jeff Maggert and Thomas Levet shot 66s.
John Daly had a 68, and David Duval – second last week at Pebble Beach – and defending champion Mark Wilson shot 71s.
Durant tied for 12th in the 2008 tournament and tied for 28th last year.
“I do like the course and it does set up nicely for my game,” Durant said. “We all have courses that better suit our playing style and this probably is one of those for me. I certainly would like to improve on my past finishes and go a little higher.”
Lyle tied for sixth last year, the Australian’s best career PGA Tour finish.
“I guess it’s the kind of course that suits me pretty well,” Lyle said. “It’s windy and I’ve grown up in wind. And I drive it pretty straight, so it’s the kind of golf course if you don’t drive it straight you’re going to find a lot of trouble.”
Hayes is coming off a fifth-place tie last week at Pebble Beach.
“I’ve been playing very well since actually last August,” Hayes said. “I’ve had just a lot of good, solid rounds. I feel very confident in what I’m doing. Had a lot of good rounds this year. Just having fun.”
Jose Trauwitz topped the four Mexican players in the field with a 72.