Tight Race Shaping Up in Mexico

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IXTAPA, Mexico -- Pablo del Olmo of Mexico will head into the weekend looking to become the first player in four years to successfully defend a Canadian Tour title following Thursdays second round of the $150,000 Corona Ixtapa Classic.
 
The 33-year-old del Olmo carded a second-round 7-under 65 and has a 36-hole total of 12-under 132, one shot better than Derek Gillespie of Oshawa, ON. Clint Jensen, Andrew Barnes and Miguel Guzman are at 10-under 134, while four others are three shots off the lead.
 
After winning the inaugural Michelin Ixtapa Classic on a sponsors exemption last year, del Olmo is in prime position to become the first player to win the same event in consecutive seasons since Brian Kontak won the Henry Singer Alberta Open in 1998 and 1999. With the Mexican Tour playing multiple events at the 6875-yard, par-72 Palma Real GC, del Olmo admits having course knowledge is essentially like adding another club to his bag.
 
Knowing the course certainly helps, especially on these greens, said del Olmo, who finished 15th on the Asian Tour Order of Merit last season. I hit the ball close today, and if I can do that I am going to make my fair share of putts.
 
If being in position to defend a title isnt enough motivation for del Olmo this weekend, there is another reason he holds a special spot in his heart for Palma Real. In 1994, it was at this course that del Olmos father saw his son play for the final time before he passed away later that year.
 
It would be very special if I could win here on the Canadian Tour for the second time, but this place means a lot to me. The course seems to like me, and it seems like someone is watching over me every time I play here.
 
The story wasnt the same Thursday for Gillespie, who battled a stomach ailment all day but still finds himself just one shot back. While hitting balls on the range, Gillespie felt so ill he contemplated withdrawing from the tournament. Playing partner Jason Bohn helped him around the track by giving him crackers and peanut butters, while course workers shuttled ginger ale to the 24-year-old. Gillespie, who won the 2002 Myrtle Beach Barefoot Championship, left the course quickly after his round and shacked up in his hotel for the night.
 
To be honest, I just wanted to make it through the day, he said. I am not even thinking about winning right now, I just want to get better. Under the circumstances, I played well, but I could have been a few shots better. Then again, we can all say that.
 
A total of 60 players were 3-under 141 or better and made the cut. The final round is scheduled for Saturday to allow players to return to the United States for U.S. Open qualifying in Monday.