PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — Russell Henley played so well that some of his conservative shots ended up close enough for easy birdies. He shot another 8-under 63 to take a three-shot lead at the World Technology Championship in Mayakoba on Friday.
Henry had three straight birdies early in the round at El Camaleon, making three more birdies on the par-3 eighth hole with a bold tee shot that hit the back pin.
That might be an accident.
“I didn’t try to hit it on No. 1. 8. It just went further than I wanted to,” Henry said. “But obviously very happy with the results.”
Henry had a 16-under 126, one shot shy of his career best opening 36 holes on the PGA Tour. He started the season with a 125 (62-63) at the Sony Open in Hawaii, which ended when Matsuyama beat him in the playoffs.
Henry also had a three-shot lead at the Sony Open. This time, Henry is ahead of Will Gordon (67) and Sam Ryder (65), both looking for their first PGA Tour title.
Henry is a three-time champion whose last victory was the 2017 Houston Open more than five years ago.
Two-time major champion Colin Morikawa finished eight shots behind with a 63, while Masters champion Scotty Schaeffler had to settle for a 71 that put him 10 behind.
Making the cut at 4-under 138, a 12-stroke difference from top to bottom, was more about Henry’s quality of play.
El Camaleon is just over 7,000 yards above sea level (Gulf of Mexico). Tropical Breeze is something players have never seen before. The greens are smooth and relatively flat. The challenge is the mangroves that line the fairways, making them look harder to hit.
“Mentally feel confident and believe in what I’m doing,” Henry said. “It starts from the tee. There are some daunting tee shots for me and I’m working hard on what I’m doing and trying to hit a good shot. Keep up the good work for those tee shots Headroom is a good start.”
A reliable putter never hurts, and this has always been the best club in Henry’s handbag. He scored a goal at 25 feet. 3. He also has a couple of par putts.
Gordon opened with a 62 and followed with a 67, though he still felt he was heading in the right direction.
“I didn’t look at myself today and then I didn’t switch a couple of putts, but I mean, it was a full day,” Gordon said. “There is still a long way to go, and I have two full days under my hands.”
Viktor Hovland, who won three straight at Mayakoba, had just three birdies in his 69 rounds, putting him eight shots behind.
Only two other players were within five shots of Henry heading into the weekend. Patton Kezier had his second straight 65 and was four shots behind, while David Lingmerth (66) was another one behind.
It was the eighth time Henry had shared at least a 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour, and he had only converted one game into a victory — his first start in his rookie season in 2013, when he won the Sony Open scott. langley.