Cancun, Riviera Maya, Q. R. — Justin Leonard had a rapid onset of what he expects to be his shortest season opening a 6-under 65 on Thursday in the OHL Classic in Mayakoba only to share the lead with Aaron Baddeley, Derek Fathauer and Shawn Stefani, who was a finalist at the OHL Mayakoba last year.
Leonard, who moved from Dallas to Colorado during the summer, said he plans to play only 12 events this season to spend more time with his wife and four children.
“I’ve been here 21 or 22 years and my children are growing,” Leonard said. “And I have to do a lot of things, but I miss a lot, too. We moved to Colorado in August, and want to play only tournaments that I’m excited to go play and see what I can do, ” he added.
The 43-year-old played bogey-free in the Chameleon before the wind and rain arrived halting the game for just over an hour. The first round was then suspended due to darkness which resulted in 21 players not finishing.
Baddeley, who won three times, lost his card last season and could not get back through the Web.com Tour finals. He is playing as a past champion and got into Mexico’s top-10 last week by tying for forth in the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi.
DJ Trahan, also a former champion who got into Mayakoba through a top-10 in Mississippi, was in a large group at 66 that included Charles Howell III and Patton Kizzire who won the Web.com Tour money title last season.
Matt Kuchar, at 16 in the world’s top-ranked player in Mayakoba, opened with a 72. He was in the same group as the Mississippi winner, Peter Malnati, who shot a 68 and the winner of HSBC Champions Russell Knox, who had a 70.
Knox is playing its fifth consecutive week from Napa, California, to Las Vegas Malaysia to Shanghai and now Mexico.
The former winner of the PGA Championship Keegan Bradley, whose world ranking has dropped to No. 65, was in the group of 67 which included Erik Compton, Patrick Rodgers and Graeme McDowell, who rallied from a double bogey on his first hole, making five consecutive birdies.
Carlos Ortiz of Mexico opened with a 68.
The OHL Mayakoba PGA Golf Classic runs from November 9 to 15.