PGA Tour rookie Viktor Hovland shot a 6-under 66 on Friday at windy Coco Beach for a share of the Puerto Rico Open lead.
With most of the top players in the world at the World Golf Championship event in Mexico, the 22-year-old Norwegian eagled the par-5 second and rebounded from a late bogey on a par 5 with a birdie to join first-round leader Kyle Stanley, Josh Teater and Emiliano Grillo at 10-under 134.
“I feel like the wind is blowing out of the same direction here every day, so I think we'll see the course playing very similar to the first couple days,” Hovland said. “I'm sure the pins are going to be a little more tucked in the corners the next two days, so it will be interesting to see how it plays.”
Hovland dropped a stroke on the par-5 15th, then got back to 10 under with a birdie on the par-4 17th. The former Oklahoma State player won the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach, then became the first player since Matt Kuchar in 1998 to sweep low amateur honors at the Masters and U.S. Open.
“It's been pretty windy, which I'm kind of used to in Oklahoma,” Hovland said. “I've just been playing good the last couple weeks. Not as good as I would have liked, but I'm definitely trending in the right direction, so it will be fun to play the weekend.”
Stanley followed an opening 64 with a 70.
“You don't get really too many straight down or straight in, it's just a ton of crosswinds,” Stanley said. “That can be kind of tough to control your ball in those conditions. My miss right now is a little bit of a right ball, so I'm loving the right-to-left wind holes and I need to get a little more comfortable on some of the left-to- right ones.”
Grillo birdied the final two holes in a 68.
“A little bit up and down with the tee shots, but it's been good so far,” Grillo said. “I kept the ball in front of me. I was able to convert pretty much every single time that I had a chance.”
Teater also shot 68.
“I think a lot of times I get in this wind and I try to fight it, just kind of maybe get my ball position too far back,” Teater said. “I kind of made an adjustment to put it up a little bit and kind of let it help me instead of try to fight it. And on top of that, I think I'm rolling the ball well.”
Sam Ryder was a stroke back after a 65. David Lingmerth (65), Ben Martin (66), Rhein Gibson (70) and Martin Laird (69) were 8 under.
Defending champion Martin Trainer missed the cut with rounds of 74 and 73. Tom Lewis, the highest-ranked player in the world in the field at No. 57, also failed to advance. He shot 73 -76.