McDowell fires 63 to grab lead at Mayakoba


PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – With humid conditions and a soft golf course, scores remained low Friday at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Here’s how things stand at the halfway point, as Graeme McDowell holds a slim advantage:

Leaderboard: Graeme McDowell (-12), Derek Fathauer (-11), Si Woo Kim (-10), Harold Varner III (-10), Patrick Rodgers (-9), Jason Bohn (-9), Justin Leonard (-9), Brice Garnett (-9)

What it means: McDowell began the day two shots back, but he quickly moved to the top of the standings with an 8-under 63. While Fathauer got within a shot late in the day, McDowell remains the man to beat as he looks to win for the first time in more than two years.

Round of the day: Varner closed with a flurry, finishing his round with four birdies over his final five holes. It added up to a 9-under 62, a round that included a pair of chip-ins and tied the course record. Varner now looks to become the latest Tour grad to break through on the main stage.

Best of the rest: McDowell is 3 over on the first hole this week and 15 under across the rest of the course. A bogey on No. 1 was his lone dropped shot Friday and interrupted a run of seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch.

Biggest disappointment: Ben Crane was in the early mix after an opening 67, but he struggled to a 5-over 76 in the second round. Crane made only a single birdie Friday and joined defending champ Charley Hoffman among the notables to miss the cut.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: McDowell was a surprise entry into this week’s field, and he’ll be the player to watch as he looks to break out of a year-long slump. Among his closest pursuers, though, are four recent Tour grads, all eager to continue the recent trend of first-time winners on Tour.

Shot of the day: Jim Herman aced the par-3 15th with a 7-iron from 158 yards. The shot both helped him card a 4-under 67 and also earned Herman a brand new BMW car.

Quote of the day: “It’s not a last-chance saloon this weekend.” – McDowell, who hasn’t won since the 2013 RBC Heritage.