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Through 31 holes at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, Matthew Wolff was up five shots on the field, making it easy to envision a second career PGA Tour title for the 22-year-old.
Scottie Scheffler then drained his fifth straight birdie on his back nine to cut it to four.
Wolff stumbled just a bit coming home with bogeys on 16 and 18 but his second-round 64, one day after his career-best 61, gives him a two-shot lead heading into the weekend at the El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
This week marks the first time in his career that Wolff has held the solo lead after both 18 and 36 holes.
“No. 16 just doesn’t really set up well for me, not going to take driver there, and 3-wood kind of works away from the fairway,” he said after his round. “You know, like I said, it was a hard finish, but I was really happy with how I played today.”
Matthew Wolff of the United States looks on from the ninth green during the second round of the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba on El Camaleon golf course on November 05, 2021 in Playa del Carmen. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
One key for Wolff is that he’s keeping the ball in play.
“I haven’t hit one ball out of play yet. Not to jinx myself, but like I said, feel really confident with every part of my game. My 2-iron and 3-wood are just really strong right now. I feel like I’m not even really giving up that much distance because balls aren’t rolling really in the fairway.”
Wolff won for the first time on the PGA Tour in his fourth start. He wasn’t even 21 yet when he hoisted the trophy at the 3M Open. Now he’s looking for win No. 2 in his 52nd career start.
As for his dinner plans on Friday?
“I’m actually going to go to Saffron in Banyan Tree here. It’s a Thai place that a lot of people say is really good,” he said.
Scheffler made things interesting by making a run up the leaderboard late in the day. He needed just 15 strokes over five holes to card those five straight birdies and vault into solo second. He is seeking his first Tour win.
“It’s not necessarily just bomb driver every time and I kind of appreciate that about this course,” he said. “You really just have to put the ball in position, there’s really no way around it.”
Carlos Ortiz and Viktor Hovland, who each shot 65 on Friday, are tied for third. Hovland, seeking to become the first repeat champion in the event, had a bit of a bad break Friday.
“I was 3-under par going on my front nine, the back nine. Then I get to the first hole, hit it in the left rough and I didn’t have very far in and I pushed it a little bit and literally landed four steps right of the pin, hits a sprinkler head and goes in the trees over the green. That was obviously, that’s a bad break, but it’s not like I sliced it OB or something like that. I knew I was playing good golf, so I just had to reset, and I was happy I made five birdies coming in.”
Hovland also seamlessly overcame a broken-driver incident on the driving range on Thursday, which caused him to go to the backup.
“Yeah. It’s honestly, yeah, I think from an accuracy standpoint, I think the driver might be better.”
Ortiz, who won for the first time on Tour 368 days ago at the Houston Open, sounds confident.
“Yeah, I know I can make it happen, so at the end of the day I want to be in contention for the last nine holes of the tournament and that’s my goal pretty much. Just have to keep playing some good golf and enjoy myself.”
Notables who missed the cut
The cut was 4 under and Brooks Koepka is among those who won’t play the weekend. Koepka shot 71-71 to finish even and tied for 108th. Lucas Herbert, who won a week ago at Bermuda, couldn’t recover from his opening round 75 and finished 1 over.
The Tour is back stateside next week for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open.