Mexico’s Diaz fires bogey-free 62 to seize PGA lead

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Mexico’s Roberto Diaz birdied four of the first five holes on his way to a nine-under par 62 for a two-stroke lead after Thursday’s first round of the United States (US) PGA John Deere Classic.

Diaz, ranked 430th in the world, was among the last players on the course at TPC Deere Run but completed a bogey-free round to overtake Americans Adam Long and Russell Henley, who shared second on 64.

The 32-year-old from Veracruz fired the low round of his PGA career, one stroke under his opening round at New Orleans in April.

Diaz seeks his first PGA title. His best finish in a tour event was a share of eighth three weeks ago at the Travelers Championship.

The week’s best top-five finisher not already qualified for the British Open will receive a berth in next week’s final major tournament of the year at Royal Portrush.

For Diaz, that could mean only his second career major start after he missed the cut in the 2017 US Open.

Diaz opened with back-to-back birdies after dropping his approaches inside six feet, then connected on 20-foot birdie putts at the fourth and fifth holes.

Diaz holed out for eagle from 100 yards at the par-five 10th, then sank 12-foot birdie putts at the 14th and par-three 16th holes to seize the solo led at eight-under.

At the par-five 17th, Diaz stopped his approach inches from the cup for a tap-in birdie and closed with a par.

Long and Henley were two back with Scotland’s Martin Laird and Americans Andrew Landry, Vaughn Taylor, Ryan Palmer, Zach Sucher and Ryan Blaum another stroke adrift.

Roberto Diaz of Mexico plays his shot on the sixth hole during the first round of the John Deere Classic. – AFP