65 without bogey takes Kenny to the top in Mazatlán

MAZATLÁN, Mexico — After a first round that provided a tie at nine for the lead, American Declan Kenny broke away from the field by shooting a bogey-free 65 in the second round of the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Third Qualifying Tournament for the 2022- 23 season. Going to 12 under 132, while registering just one bogey over 36 holes, Kenny finished the day two strokes ahead of Mexican Jorge Villar and fellow American Daniel Hudson, who tied for second at 10 under.

Villar, who charged from a tie for 19th, caught fire to post a tournament low of 8 under 64. His eight-under, bogey-free performance turned him into the best of 18 Mexicans on the land at Estrella del Mar Country Club. Behind the par-four leader, Americans Jake Hendrix and Ollie Osborne join second-best Mexican Salvador Rocha in a tie for fourth at 8 under.

“I was good,” said the 24-year-old leader. “I was just trying to stay patient, made a few putts and really tried to stick to what I know how to do. I didn’t try to hit shots that I’m not good with and just controlled my ball flight really well, which was important in the back nine, with the wind.

Opening the day with birdies on 2 and 4, Kenny set up a streak of four straight birdies, starting at No. 9. “I hit a good tee shot on 9, 10, 11, which you Prepares pretty well for the birdie. You don’t really need to hit the best second shot as long as the tee shot is good. And then on the 12th I went about 20 feet for my only long putt of the day,” said the Dallas, Texas native, who added another birdie at No. 15.

On a Mexican Pacific Coast course that is wide and sometimes forgiving, wind can be a factor late in the day. The back nine, with its final holes playing in strong sea winds, can be quite challenging on the stretch.

“Honestly, I focused a lot on my breathing,” Kenny said of playing in windy conditions. “I haven’t had the best time mentally the past few months, so I focused on my breathing and stayed patient with where I was at.”

After a full season on PGA TOUR Canada, where he lost in the playoffs in his first of nine starts and finished 31st in the Fortinet Cup standings, Villar was outstanding on Wednesday. “I’m pretty happy because [the course] played hard, with the wind blowing pretty hard after my fifth hole,” said the Puebla native who started with a birdie on the first.

After birdies on 6 and 7 to go around at 3 under for the day, the former Lynn University, who turned pro in 2021, birdied five in a six-hole stretch, starting with the No. 11. “I played smart with all the wind we had. I didn’t get greedy after landing a few birdies, so I kept finding lanes and trying to do what I had to do,” the 24-year-old added.

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