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Maguire, Hakula share lead at Doral

DORAL, Florida—American MJ Maguire and Finland’s Toni Hakula took advantage of perfect morning conditions at Trump National Doral’s Golden Palm Course, Maguire shooting a 5-under 66 and Hakula a 64, and the duo takes a share of the lead into the weekend at the Shell Open. Maguire and Hakula lead five players by a stroke, with Americans Sam Stevens, Shad Tuten and Chris Wiatr joining Argentina’s Andrés Gallegos and Colombia’s Santiago Gómez in the logjam behind the leaders.

Hakula finished his opening round with a pair of bogeys to shoot an even-par 71. He atoned for that disappointing finish Friday by rolling in more than his fair share of putts—making nine birdies against only two bogeys for the 64 that gave him round-of-the-day honors with Raúl Pereda and Isidro Benitez. 

“[Thursday], I was a little more up and down. I thought I hit it pretty good, I just didn’t hit enough greens. Today, I just really capitalized on a lot of great shots and made a lot of putts,” Hakula said, comparing his first two rounds. “Today’s run was a bit closer to how I’ve been putting all year. I figured it would come around today.”

Hakula had a busy summer, playing all eight LOCALiQ Series tournaments, winning The Challenge at Harbor Hills in Central Florida and finishing fifth on the final points list for the Series that featured players from PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Series-China. Hakula also played a steady diet of mini tour golf once PGA TOUR Latinoamérica postponed its season. The former University of Texas star may be playing both his best and most-consistent golf of his career.

Maguire is looking to add a win to his resume. He is the owner of two second-place PGA TOUR Latinoamérica finishes, his career-best performances. Both of Maguire’s runner-up showings came in 2018, a tie for second at the 87 Abierto OSDE del Centro in Cordoba, Argentina, and a solo-second at the Puerto Plata DR Open.

Pivotal to Maguire grabbing a share of the lead here in South Florida was his play on Golden Palm’s No. 6, where he made what he called a “good bogey.” His 5 on the par-4 could have much worse considering Maguire hit his tee shot left and had to take off his shoes and get into the water to play his second shot. “So, I hiked up the pants. I had a big clump of mud on the ball, and I flushed it right at the green. I thought it was going to be good,” he said. Instead, the ball plugged in the lip of the greenside bunker. “I was lucky to get it out on the green and two-putt for bogey.”

“The towel was destroyed, but I didn’t go full shirt-off or anything,” he joked afterward.

Maguire dominated the Golden Palm Course’s four par-5s, making birdies on all four. He’s a cumulative 6-under on those holes for the week.

“I think this course in particular, just the way it sets up, if you can be aggressive on certain holes on par-5s you can get shorter clubs in there and then attack the pins. I was just trying to have the aggressive mentality out there, especially on par-5s,” he added.

Did you know Toni Hakula has a new brother-in-law? Last week in Dallas, his former University of Texas teammate and current PGA TOUR player Kramer Hickok married Hakula’s younger sister, Anne.

Key Information

• Officials halted play at 5:40 p.m., due to darkness. Joseph Winslow is the only player who still needs to complete his second round, which he will do Saturday morning. Following the conclusion of play in the morning, officials will make the cut. The projected cut is 1-over. Currently, 57 players are inside that line. Winslow is tied for 21st, at 2-under.

• Only five players have turned in back-to-back rounds in the 60s through 36 holes: Americans MJ Maguire, Sam Stevens, Chris Wiatr, Argentina’s Andrés Gallegos and Canada’s Drew Nesbitt.

• Mexico’s Isidro Benitez had a solid turnaround after opening with a 5-over 76 Thursday. He fell to 6-over immediately in the second round as he bogeyed his opening hole. His was solid golf after that, with a best-of-the-day-tying 64. Benitez birdied three of his final eight holes on his first nine, including a tap-in birdie at his eighth hole (the par-3 17th) when his tee shot landed four inches from the cup. He also chipped in from the front of the green on his 10th hole (No. 1), one of five birdies over his final nine holes.

• Isidro Benitez’s 12-stroke improvement from the first round to the second was the best of the day, but fellow Mexicans Raúl Pereda and Álvaro Ortiz and American Patrick Flavin also rebounded nicely and will make the cut. Pereda opened with a 74 and shaved 10 strokes off that score, matching Toni Hakula and Benitez with best-of-the-day 64s. Ortiz came back with a 66 to go with his first-round 76. Flavin began with a 4-over 75 but was nine strokes better with his Friday 66—that included six birdies and a bogey. He finished his day in style with a birdie on No. 18. Pereda is tied for ninth, while Flavin is tied for 26th. Ortiz checks in tied for 36th. Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti also had a 10-shot improvement Friday. But his 77-67 leaves him at 2-over and a stroke outside the projected cutline.

• In Thursday’s opening round, Raúl Pereda at one point made four bogeys and a double bogey in succession (holes 11-15) to drop to 5-over. His comeback began on No. 16 Thursday when he made an eagle from eight feet. Starting with that eagle, Pereda is 9-under over his last 21 holes.

• Patrick Flavin played in six of the eight LOCALiQ Series tournaments this summer, making four cuts and posting one top-10. He finished the Series at No. 47 on the points list.

• During a three-hole stretch on his first nine, Chris Wiatr forged to the lead. Despite hitting his approach shot on the par-5 16th into the trees, he was able to salvage a par. Then on No. 17, he hit what he thought was a perfect drive on the par-3. Instead, the ball plugged in the lip of the deep bunker fronting the green. All Wiatr did from there was hole out for birdie. He finished the three-hole run by making a 16-foot birdie putt on No. 18. “It was silly, honestly,” he said.

• The grouping of Toni Hakula, Chris Wiatr and Isidro Benitez were a combined 16-under Friday, with Hakula and Benitez fashioning 64s and Wiatr shooting a 69. Together the threesome had 22 birdies, and the only holes that didn’t see birdies from at least one player in the group were the 10th and 14th.

• LOCALiQ Series points champion Bryson Nimmer Monday-qualified into the event and shot an opening, even-par 71. He is at 1-under overall through 15 holes of the delayed second round. Nimmer is making his PGA TOUR Latinoamérica debut this week.

• There are players from 19 countries or territories in this week’s 132-man field. The U.S. has the most (76 players), followed by Argentina (14) and Mexico (11). Six European countries are represented: Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

Quotable

“We definitely had some better conditions. It wasn’t that cool this morning. I think yesterday morning was cooler, so I just tried to take advantage of it today since I didn’t [Thursday]. It was definitely a nice bounce-back today.” –Toni Hakula

“It was just putting. I thought I hit it pretty good [Thursday]. I made one really long putt, but other than that I made nothing. I missed a couple of really short ones, and finished bogey-bogey.” –Toni Hakula on the difference between his second-round 64 and his first-round 71

“I wasn’t too frustrated, too worried, after [Thursday’s] bad putting performance, I figured it would come around today.” –Toni Hakula

“I played the par 5s really well. I birdied all the par-5s and snuck in a few (birdies) on the par 4s.” –MJ Maguire

“I’ve been playing the LOCALiQ Series, which was a lot of help just to keep the competitive juices going. And I played well. I had a few top-five finishes on that Tour, so it was good to keep the game going.” –MJ Maguire

“COVID hasn’t really affected things as much in Florida. I’ve been able to practice and get all the work in that I need to.” –MJ Maguire

“I had three mud balls today that cost me six shots. It really put me behind the 8-ball. I honestly hit the ball great. Those three swings really hurt me because they were all scoreable holes.” –Shad Tuten

“I’m in a good spot, and this is a tough course, and I know that. That’s the reason I wanted to keep my foot down and keep going.” –Shad Tuten

“I thought I did a pretty good job today, turning some bad shots into some par saves. It could have been better for sure. Anytime you come off the golf course bogeying the last hole, it’s a bit of a disappointment.” –Chris Wiatr

“I was fortunate to get off to a good start on the back nine. I’m really not too displeased with where I’m at. Obviously, I would have liked to have grabbed a couple more on the back, but that’s not in the cards sometimes.” –Chris Wiatr

Tournament Fast Fact

Trump National Doral has a rich history with the PGA TOUR, with its Blue Course, dubbed the “Blue Monster” a regular stop on TOUR. Between 1962 and 2006, the course hosted 45 tournaments. In 2007, Doral became site of a World Golf Championships event, the site of 10 WGCs before the event moved to Mexico City for the Mexico Championship. In all, 13 World Golf Hall of Famers have won PGA TOUR events at Doral.

Second-Round Weather Report

Cool and overcast when the day began. Sunny and warmer in the afternoon. High of 73. Wind ENE at 3-5 mph in the morning. Wind picked up in the afternoon, ENE at 8-11 mph.

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