PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – It’s far from settled at El Camaleón Golf Club.
Brendon Todd was cruising toward his second win in as many starts at the Mayakoba Golf Classic until a two-shot swing on the 13th and 14th hole left him tied with playing partner Vaughn Taylor at 20-under-par before darkness halted play.
“Today was a great day,” Todd said. “You know, I went out there and hit it well, shot 9-under-par with two bogeys. It doesn’t taste so great that the last one came on the last hole (the par-4 14th), but it’s all right. I’m tied for the lead with three to play and excited about the opportunity.”
Harris English, the third member of their group, is just one back.
All three elected to mark on the par-3 15th green, calling it a day after playing nearly 33 holes. Todd and English have birdie putts, while Taylor still has around six feet to salvage par. They will return to the course at 7:30 a.m. ET Monday to finish the tournament.
So will local favorite Carlos Ortiz of Guadalajara, who still has a shot at his first PGA TOUR victory. He’s also just a shot back, tied with English at 19 under, with the 18th hole still to play.
While his playing partners, Zach Johnson (69, 9 under) and Mark Hubbard (74, 2 under), elected to finish the round, Ortiz, the only one in contention, chose to wait and play 18 in daylight.
“The whole point was to get in contention in the last nine holes,” Ortiz said. “I’m in contention with one hole to play. So, I mean, that’s also the position I took of not finishing. I think I have a really good chance for tomorrow and I’m pretty proud the way I played.”
Ortiz and his younger brother, Alvaro, the Latin America Amateur champion, have been a big draw all week, with both playing well as their parents tried to follow along. But only Carlos could summon his A game in the final round, as Alvaro is 5 over through 16 holes, 7 under total.
Todd is 47 under in his last eight rounds on TOUR and making his first start since winning the Bermuda Championship two weeks ago. He’s trying to become the first player to win back-to-back events on TOUR since Bryson DeChambeau at the 2018 THE NORTHERN TRUST and Dell Technologies Championship.
He’s also trying to add another layer to a comeback of epic proportions. Fighting the full-swing yips, Todd plummeted down the world ranking and lost his status the last three seasons. Playing when he could on Past Champion status (2014 AT&T Byron Nelson), he had made just six of his previous 47 cuts when he turned the calendar on 2019.
Taylor is seeking his fourth TOUR title and first since the 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Ortiz might be the hottest player of the top four, having carded a 6-under 65 in the third round and gone 5 under for his first 17 holes of the fourth. The 28-year-old arrived on TOUR with high hopes after winning three times on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2014, but has just six top-10 finishes in 95 previous starts on the PGA TOUR. Two of those came this season, a pair of T4s at the Sanderson Farms Championship and Houston Open.
A four-time All-American at Georgia, English won on the Korn Ferry Tour even before he turned pro in 2011, then promptly won twice on the PGA TOUR. Alas, his prosperity didn’t last. His average finish in the FedExCup the last three seasons has been 131, he fell out of the top 200 in the world, and had to go back to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
Now, though, he’s already posted three top-10 finishes in four starts this season.
Adam Long also has a shot. He’s two shots back at 18 under, with three holes remaining. He’s coming off a feast-or-famine season in which he won The American Express but had just one other top-10 finish, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
They’ll come back and settle it Monday morning.
“Now that I’m tied for the lead, it’s kind of a new ballgame,” Todd said. “I’ll have to go out there and hit good shots and try and fight them off.”