Ortiz improves rookie résumé with 62

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EDISON, N.J. – While the PGA Tour Player of the Year vote doesn’t seem to be much of a race – the circuit could box up the Jack Nicklaus Award and ship it to Dallas, Texas, Attention: Spieth, Jordan – the Rookie of the Year duel is just heating up.

Carlos Ortiz, who has endured a relatively unproductive rookie season after a stellar year on the Web.com Tour in 2014, scorched Plainfield Country Club early Saturday, recording seven birdies and no bogeys for a 62 and briefly held a share of the lead before the afternoon starters teed off.

At 112th on the FedEx Cup points list Ortiz ranks well behind the front-runners for the ROY vote. Justin Thomas (36th in FedEx Cup points) is leading the class followed by Tony Finau (39th), Daniel Berger (46th) and Scott Pinckney (78th), although none of the first-year players has won this season.

“Playing on the Web.com [Tour] to here is different. It shouldn’t be but somehow your mind starts messing with and I struggled with that at the beginning,” said Ortiz, who in 28 events this season has just one top-10 finish. “I’m feeling better now for next year and the rest of the season.”