Russell Henley’s en fuego, Sam Ryder’s dream start & Brian Harman’s ace among the highlights of second round at Mayakoba

Shooting 8-under 63 at El Camaleon Golf Course is impressive, but to back it up and do it two days in a row that qualifies as golfing your ball.

Add in the fact that Russell Henley is bogey-free through 36 holes and well, let’s just say Henley is in the zone as he improved to 16-under 126 to lead by three strokes over Will Gordon and Sam Ryder at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

“I felt great the last two days,” Henley said. “Mentally felt confident and believing in what I was doing. Hit a lot of fairways and had some nice par saves today that kept my round going. Obviously very happy with where I am.”

As he should. Henley, who last won in 2017, made birdie on three of his final four holes to pull ahead.

“He’s a guy when he gets going he’s not scared to keep the pedal down and that’s what he’s doing this week,” said Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio’s John Rollins.

Henley has hit 24 of 28 fairways on a course that demands accuracy off the tee and he’s taken advantage of preferred lies being implemented after more than an inch of rain on Wednesday.

“Just being in a good head space for those tee shots is a good start,” Henley said. “Things were going my way.”

That’s putting it mildly for the 33-year-old Henley who is bidding for his fourth PGA Tour title.

Ace alert for Brian Harman

Brian Harman plays a shot on the 7th hole during the second round of the World Wide Technology Championship in Playa del Carmen. (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Since a result of T-26 in his debut at El Camaleon in 2012, Brian Harman has never recorded a better finish in nine starts and missed the cut last year.

“This place kind of had my number over the years,” Harman said.

Credit to Harman for continuing to come back, and this year it may pay dividends as he opened with a pair of 66s to sit at 10-under 132 at the midway point of the tournament.

Harman was stuck in neutral on Friday, even through 12 holes, when he made his third hole-in-one on the PGA Tour at the 113-yard, par-3 fourth hole.

“Watched both the guys in front of me hit pitching wedge and I figured I could hook a 50-degree and get it there,” he said. “It hit and we got to watch it spin right back. That was my first since I got two in one day.”

That was in the final round of the 2015 Barclays. Did it pop into his mind when he got to the par-3 eighth?

“I didn’t even think about it,” he said. “The funny thing is when I made the first one my caddie ‘Country’ said, ‘Well, they come in bunches’ and eight holes later I dunked another one.”

Harman celebrated the ace by reeling off three straight birdies on his way to posting 66. Harman found the fairway just five of 14 times on Friday, which made it hard to take advantage of preferred lies and scrambled for par six of eight times.

“This course has always kind of given me the heebie-jeebies off the tee,” he said. “I think if I can clean up my driver, I’ll have a good chance.”

The Big Rig has weekend plans

Harry Higgs plays a shot on the second hole during the second round of the 2022 World Wide Technology Championship at Club de Golf El Camaleon (Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

Could Harry Higgs be breaking out of his slump this week south of the border?

Higgs, who finished 147th in the FedEx Cup standings, has been entrenched on the struggle bus. “Almost all the time I go on the first tee for a competitive round and I don’t really know what’s going to happen, which is a really not fun place to be,” he said.

Friday was not one of those days. The 30-year-old SMU grad hit 17 of 18 greens, made seven birdies and an eagle to shoot 62 and make his first cut in four starts of the 2022-23 season.

“I somehow hit a miracle 7-iron to a foot and a half on 9, my last hole. You know, it was great, don’t have to think about it, tap it in for birdie, and my brother and I were just standing there like, ‘This was like really fun,’ ” he said.

So was holing a lob wedge for eagle from 86 yards at the par-4 third hole.

“I thought it was going to be really good so all I said was ‘in,’ and that’s usually the curse. It either will like fly in the hole and come out or it will lip out,” he said. “Fortunately, I called for it early and it fell in the hole.”

Higgs is playing this week on a sponsor’s exemption and is making the most of his opportunity, improving to 10-under 132 at the halfway point.

“I have a lot to play for. I had a very poor year by my standards and kind of fighting uphill for the entirety of this year. This week is a bonus that World Wide Technologies gave me a sponsor exemption,” he explained.

A lousy attitude has been part of Higgs’s problems but on Friday he and his brother, who caddies for him, said he was “spiraling up” and not down for a change.

“He said he saw something different in me today,” said Higgs of brother Alex. “He said he’s kind of unlocked it, right? So I’m going to go sit and have lunch and hear what he has to say about it.”

Sam Ryder's dream start

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO – NOVEMBER 04: Sam Ryder of United States lines up a putt on the 17th hole during the second round of the World Wide Technology Championship at Club de Golf El Camaleon on November 04, 2022 in Playa del Carmen. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

Sam Ryder always likes to birdie the first hole, and he did just that on Friday by sinking a 40-foot putt. As the saying goes, you can’t birdie them all if you don’t birdie the first. Ryder nearly did, pouring in seven birdies in his first nine holes to shoot 29 and race to a five-stroke lead at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

“I didn’t really miss a shot on the opening nine,” Ryder said.

The 32-year-old, who played his college golf at Stetson University, signed for 6-under 65 at El Camaleón Golf Course and a 36-hole total of 13-under 129.

Ryder is still seeking his first PGA Tour title and tried his best not to think about his lead as he played the back nine.

“But it’s impossible to not know that, OK, I’ve got five shots on the field right now or, you know, it creeps in,” he said.

Ryder made his lone bogey of the day at 10, blaming it on “an uncommitted swing,” but made some clutch par saves including at No. 13, where he hit into a penalty area but managed to save par.

How did his birdie putt on 17, which rimmed out, not go in, he was asked after the round?

“I don’t know how that missed, but I made plenty,” he said. “The hole was looking pretty big. Anything I got within 20 feet I felt like I had a good chance.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek