Ortiz, Wallace, Valimaki, Knapp Tied for 36-Hole Lead in 80th Mexico Open

Alvaro Ortiz is one of eight golfers from Mexico in the field, and he’s right at the top.

The 28-year-old Ortiz (pictured) carded a bogey-free 64 and is tied for the lead with Matt Wallace of England, Sami Valimaki of Finland and Jake Knapp midway through the 80th Mexico Open at Vidanta at Vidanta Vallarta Golf Club in Nuevo Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico.

“The more I play, the more comfortable I feel and I start to realize that I have the game,” said Ortiz, who has won three times as a professional, but not yet on the PGA Tour.

“It’s awesome to have my family, to have my friends, to have my people here. We don’t get to play much in Mexico, so it’s pretty cool to be out here, to be playing well and feel the support from them.

“There’s still a lot of golf to be played, 36 holes, and anything can happen. I’ve got to focus right now, got to get a good practice in, recover and get ready for tomorrow.”

Ortiz, who grew up in Guadalajara and is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, sank a 31-foot eagle putt on the sixth hole and added five birdies on the back nine in is 64 and recorded a 36-hole score of 11-under-par 131.

Wallace equaled that by making an 18-foot eagle putt and No. 6 and adding six birdies in a 65, while Valimaki birdied the last two holes for a 67, and Knapp made three straight birdies on the front nine in a bogey-free 64.

“Basically, we started tournaments pretty poorly this year,” said Wallace, who has won 11 times as a pro, including the 2023 Corales Puntacana Open on the PGA Tour. “And it’s kind of been like: ‘OK, we’ll see how it goes to start the tournament on Thursday.’ We have found ourselves behind the 8-ball, and then we’ve played really well on Fridays because we’ve been determined to get the score back.

“So, we kind of came up with a system of like starting over par, so we’ve already played one round, right? To make the cut, you’ve got to get yourself into it. …  That sort of determination and focus really helped.”

First-round leader Erik van Rooyen of South Africa made two late birdies in a 69 and is one stroke back in solo fifth, while Mark Hubbard birdied four of the last five holes to cap a 66 and is two more down in a tie for sixth with Andrew Novak, who birdied three of the first six holes and No. 18 for a 68, and Chan Kim of South Korea sank a 12-foot eagle putt at No. 6 in a 69 and is four shots back in solo eighth.

Defending champion Tony Finau made eagles on the 12th and 18th holes in a 67 and is five strokes behind in huge tie for ninth with Patrick Rodgers of Stanford (70), Lanto Griffin of Mt. Shasta (70), Joseph Bramlett of Palo Alto and Stanford (70), Stephan Jaeger of Germany (68), Ryan Moore (68), Dylan Wu (68), Emiliano Grillo of Argentina (67), Nico Echavarria of Colombia (69), Chesson Hadley (67), Carl Yuan of China (65), Jimmy Stanger (68), Kevin Dougherty (64), amateur Santiago De la Fuente of Mexico (69), Robby Shelton (69), Justin Lower (66), Henrik Norlander of Sweden (71), and Thorbjorn Oleson of Norway (70).

For complete results and third-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard

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