RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico — Carson Young had to lean more on his short game Friday and posted a 5-under 67 and built a 4-shot lead going into the weekend at the Puerto Rico Open.
Young, a 28-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour, didn’t have quite the theatrics as his opening round of three eagles that carried him to a 63. He still put himself in great position as he goes after his first tour win.
“I didn’t quite have it like I did yesterday, but it was still good,” Young said. “My tee shots weren’t quite the way I wanted them today, I got into trouble a good bit, but my short game really saved me today.”
What stood out was holing a bunker shot for birdie on the par-3 sixth hole — his 15th of the day at Grand Reserve Golf Club — and another birdie on the par-3 eighth hole that gave him a cushion. He finished with a bogey on No. 9.
Young was at 14-under 130.
Another tour rookie, Nico Echavarria of Colombia, had a 67 and was 4 shots back along with Paul Haley II (66).
Ryan Gerard had a 67 and was 6 shots behind in a tie for sixth. Gerard earned the last spot in the field at the Honda Classic last week in a Monday qualifier, and then finished fourth to earn a spot in Puerto Rico.
Now he has a late tee time on the weekend in pursuit of a win that would change his career trajectory in a hurry. If he finishes in the top 10 again, he would get into the field at the Valspar Championship in two weeks.
“I feel like the last week and a half has been just a rollercoaster,” Gerard said. “Just not really knowing what I’m getting into, playing well, quick turnaround, flying, it’s been really cool. So I think — I know — I’m just lucky to be here and I know I’m playing well.
“I think I just take those two things in stride and just go have fun with it this weekend.”
Young also has some momentum. He shared the 18-hole lead in the Honda Classic before falling back, though his tie for 29th was his best finish of his rookie season.
After his opening 63, he tried to act as though Friday was the opening round. That’s going to be his plan for the weekend.
“I’m going to just reset like I’m even par again and go out there and try to play my best and win each day,” he said.
The Puerto Rico Open is held opposite the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which has attracted every PGA Tour member from the top 50 in the world. The winner won’t get an invitation to the Masters, but it gets him in the PGA Championship and a two-year tour exemption.