RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico – Rafael Campos held onto the lead in front of his home fans in the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open, shooting a 1-under 71 in windy conditions Friday.
The 27-year-old Campos had a 9-under 135 total at Coco Beach for a one-stroke lead. One of two players to play in all nine editions of the event, he opened with a 64 on Thursday.
“It’s great just having so much support, so many people coming out here and following us,” Campos said. “I love seeing the little kids, I love seeing the parents and all that. They’re the future of golf.”
He’s the first Puerto Rican to lead a PGA Tour event since the 1979 Tallahassee Open, when Chi Chi Rodriguez was tied for the 54-hole lead and went on to win his eighth and final title.
“It really does feel great to be in this position,” Campos said. “I’m really relaxed. Ironically enough, I really feel very relaxed out there. Not really thinking of my swing, I’m not really thinking of the problems out there, I’m actually enjoying it. I like being in this position, I really do.”
George McNeill, the 2012 winner, was second after a 71.
“The wind’s blowing, it’s tricky,” McNeill said. “The greens aren’t very fast and this afternoon they didn’t putt as good as they did yesterday morning, obviously, with a lot of traffic on them.”
Ian Poulter, playing the event for the first time after failing to qualify for the Match Play tournament in Texas, was tied for third at 7 under after a 66 _ the best round of the day.
“The yardage books nowadays are good enough, you don’t need to be here for days and days and days trying to figure out the golf course,” Poulter said. “It’s right in front of you. It’s windy, you can see the bunkers, you can see the hazards.”
The Englishman birdied the first three holes and the last three in his bogey-free round.
“I had to stay patient,” Poulter said. “Opening up with three birdies first thing this morning was nice. It was easy to get a little bit frustrated yesterday not making putts I would have expected to hole. … To close with three birdies there was good and it kind of moves me up the board quite nicely.”
Defending champion Alex Cejka (71) also was 7 under along with Steve Marino (67), Bronson Burgoon (68), Kyle Reifers (70), Mark Hubbard (70) and Will MacKenzie (71).
Graham DeLaet (69) of Weyburn, Sask., was the top Canadian, four shots back of Compos and tied for 15th place.
“It was a little bit trickier today,” Cejka said. “It was a little bit more wind, it was tough to play. I really hit some good shots. … I’m hanging in there, just want to play the next couple days like I did the first two days.”