American Leads Canadian Tour in Mexico


Canadian Tour-LargeMORELIA, Mexico -- Michael Walton is in the clubhouse with a three-shot lead after Thursdays suspended second round of the Canadian Tours Michelin Morelia Classic.

The 29-year-old Palm Desert, Calif. native fired a 7-under 65 at Tres Marias Residential Golf Club to build a 12-under 132 total through 36 holes.

Fellow Californian Robert Hamilton, the 2001 U.S. Amateur runner-up, lit up Tres Marias for a course-record 9-under 63 and is tied for second with Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C., thee shots off the lead.

Stuart Anderson of Edmonton is at minus-8 while Derek Gillespie, David Mathis and Ryan Miller are in the house at 6-under 138.

Lightning caused a one-hour delay Thursday afternoon and play was halted due to darkness at 8:55 pm Eastern with 31 players still on the course. They will be back in position Friday morning to wrap up the second round before the field is cut to the low 60 scores plus ties.

Walton, who shared the overnight lead with John Humphries, was quick out of the gate with a birdie on his opening hole and followed that up with an eagle on the par-5 fifth. He added birdies on numbers six and eight and hit the halfway pole at 4-under for the day.

Beginning his second round on the intimidating back nine at Tres Marias, Hamilton didnt let the three-tiered greens and dramatic elevation changes throw him off his game as he reeled off four birdies on his way to a 3-under 33 at the turn. With the toughest holes behind him, Hamilton took advantage on the front side with six birdies.

That was pretty good stuff, quipped Hamilton. To make four birdies on that back nine definitely helped out. If you can do that, youre ahead of the game. Anything can happen on this course, so Ill just keep doing the things that are working for me. Im dissecting the course and taking what it gives me.

LPGA star Natalie Gulbis had set the previous Tres Marias benchmark with a 66 last month during the Corona Morelia Championship.

Baryla, who also began his day on the tenth tee, turned at 4-under, thanks in part to a 45-foot eagle putt on an uphill six-foot slope on the par-5 18th. On his inbound nine, the 22-year-old former University of Texas-El Paso star birdied number one before the weather delay. Once play resumed, brisk winds began to swirl through the 7,254-yard layout and Baryla just tried to keep the ship righted over his final eight holes.

I scraped it around there coming in, he admitted. I think the suspension may have thrown me out of my groove, but what can you do? Ive got no complaints at all.

Less than a month after his first Tour win at the Foster Farms California Classic, Anderson is poised to make a run at a second title in three starts. One week ago, Anderson, who is second on the money list, finished 11th at the Corona Mazatlan Classic.

Being in contention once again is a feeling Anderson seems to be getting used to.

In years previous, if I was 40th heading into the weekend it really didnt mean that much, said Anderson, who posted a 31 on his front side Thursday. It was hard for me to get motivated. Ill take this route every week and never have a complaint. Theres no pressure to have to make a big move.

Hamilton managed a career best runner-up finish at the 2002 Victoria Open and is coming off a fourth in Morelia.

This weekend, he will be looking to get that elusive first victory in the Tours sixth official event of the season.

I know I can win out here, added Hamilton. Im giving myself plenty of opportunities, and my frame of mind is where I want it to be. Now Ive just got to go out there and do it.

With rounds of 68-67 now in the books, Baryla, like Hamilton, is cautiously optimistic as he chases he first Canadian Tour crown.

You know, its a good first two rounds, but thats all it is. Ive put myself in great position, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Michael Harris of Troy, Mich. aced the par-3 sixth Thursday on his way to a 1-under 71 Thursday.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Michelin Morelia Classic
  • Full Coverage - Michelin Morelia Classic