Knapp Shoots 63 to Lead Valimaki by Four Strokes in 80th Mexico Open

PGA Tour rookie Jake Knapp rode a blazing hot start to the top of the leaderboard and stayed there with a strong finish.

The 29-year-old Knapp, of Costa Mesa and UCLA, shot eight-under-par 63 to take a four-stroke lead over Sami Valimaki of Finland heading to the final round of the 80th Mexico Open at Vidanta at Vidanta Vallarta Golf Club in Nuevo Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico.

“I can’t complain obviously,” said Knapp, whose only victories as a professional came on the PGA Tour Canada. “I feel like I struck the ball about the same as the last couple days. Just hitting it really well, driving it well. I was able to roll in some more putts. Felt like once I was able to see a couple go in early, it just felt like kind of everything was going in for a little while there.”

“I struck the ball very similar to how I did the last couple days, but I was able to get some more putts to fall. I would like to clean up a few of those bogeys on the back nine, but it was a great day.

“I’ve been playing professional golf for quite a while. I’ve had some good stuff and some bad stuff. This will definitely all be a part of it. It’s just a lot of the same. I will go back, shower, go to the gym tonight, do my preparation for tomorrow morning and get ready to go for tomorrow afternoon.”

Knapp birdied seven of the nine holes to shoot 28 on the front nine, but had three bogeys on the back before making birdies on the last two holes to tie the tournament record for 54 holes at 19-under-par 194.

Valimaki, 25, who has won seven times as a pro but also is seeking his first PGA Tour victory, made three of his six birdies in a row through the seventh hole and made his last one in a 67 on the 18th hole.

“I started really nicely, hit the ball well, especially first nine holes,” said Valimaki, whose last victory came in the 2023 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in October. “Then I made just a couple of bad decisions off the tee with the irons, two easy bogeys, but in the end, it was a good, solid round.”

“I have to shoot low one tomorrow to try to get the win. I think somewhere under 20-under-par should be good, if I can finish there. We will see what happens. That’s my goal.”

Ben Silverman of Canada made four birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 63 and is seven shots behind in a tie for third with Henrik Norlander of Sweden, who had three birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 65, and Chan Kim off South Korea, who made three straight birdies on the back nine in a 66.

Erik van Rooyen of South Africa, the first-round leader at 63, birdied the last hole for a 70 and is eight down in a tie for sixth with Justin Lower, who shot a bogey-free 66, Robert McIntyre of Scotland, who sank an eight-foot eagle putt on the last hole to cap a bogey-free 65, and Matt Wallace of England, who was tied for the 36-hole lead and finished at 71.

Joseph Bramlett of Palo Alto and Stanford birdied three of the first seven holes in a 67 and is nine strokes behind in a tie for 10th with Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, who holed out from  64 feet for an eagle at the 14th hole in a 67, and Andrew Novak, who birdied the last hole for a 68.

Defending champion Tony Finau is tied for 20h after making three birdies on the front nine in 69.

For complete results and final-round tee times, visit:  

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