The 25-year-old Rocha fired a 9-under 62 at Guadalajara Country Club and leads Carlos Pelaez by three strokes heading into round two. Adam Short of Vineland, ON opened with a 5-under 66 and is the top Canadian, four shots back. Rookie Eduardo Argiro of Argentina is also at 5-under.
Starting on the back nine Thursday, Rocha, a former NCAA All-American at Mississippi State University, birdied his first three holes to set the early tone. He was 6-under at the turn, and finished his day with eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey.
Three birdies out of the gate at 8 in the morning, its better than coffee, laughed Rocha, who best finish in 2002 was third at the TELUS Edmonton Open. The last thing you want is a bad start and have to play catch-up. I got on a roll early and was able to keep it going.
Rocha spent most of the off-season making corrections to his swing, and the extra work seems to be paying early dividends. Admitting he struggled with his confidence last season, Rocha says he felt uncomfortable over the ball most of the time and had to adjust his swing from week to week.
After some discussion with wife Jennifer, Rocha began a ground-up restoration of the mechanics in his swing and during the recent Canadian Tour hiatus, the changes were apparent. He attempted to qualify for a PGA event as well as a trio of Nationwide Tour events and missed qualifying by one shot in all four attempts. In two of those qualifying rounds, he was ousted in a playoff. Rocha also notched a win on the Maverick Tour while tuning up for the resumption of the Canadian Tour schedule.
It was major for me (the swing change), almost like rebuilding a house. I only had a limited number of shots, and it was frustrating- at a lot of the courses I couldnt compete because I couldnt work the ball to the pins. But I see the changes now and I am thrilled, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
Short, who lost his Tour card in 2001 before regaining playing privileges by winning Fall Qualifying School last September, continues his impressive run. Last summer, Short made eight straight cuts on the DP Tour before Q-school, and kicked off this season with a T8 at the TravelTex.com Canadian Tour Classic, his best career Tour finish.
Ive been working hard and getting help from a lot of different people, said Short, referring to his father, Kerry, also a Tour member, his girlfriend Lori as well as his coach and sponsors. This is what you get when it all comes together. I am very pleased with all how I played today, but my hat is off to Alex. What he did out there today was unreal.
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