Mexico Open at Vidanta Halfway Hut: Jon Rahm leads but history is against him

News, stats, quotes and social after 36 holes in Vallarta where World No.2 Jon Rahm holds a two-shot lead after the second round.

Despite some underwhelming performances of late, Jon Rahm came into this week's Mexico Open as the hot favourite to secure his first win since last June's US Open.

With two rounds gone, the Spaniard is justifying the faith put in him by the bookies.

Rahm opened with a 7-under 64 and kept his foot to the floor on Friday with a 5-under 66 to move to 12-under and claim a two-shot lead. His nearest rival is World No. 205 Alex Smalley.

So far so good then. It's a brave call to say Rahm doesn't win from here.

And yet the history books reveal a surprise when looking at how Rahm has performed in this exact same situation.

On the PGA Tour he's been the 36-hole leader on six previous occasions in individual strokeplay events and in all six he's failed to go on and win.

That poor conversion record even extends to the DP World Tour. He led the 2019 BMW PGA Championship and 2021 Scottish Open at halfway but finished second and seventh respectively.

The obvious asterisk is the 2021 Memorial where he was six clear after 54 holes but had to pull out due to Covid.

But maybe that just adds to the overall 36-hole hoodoo that has gripped Rahm so far.

This looks a golden chance to break it but don't just presume the rest are now playing for second place.

Stats

Rahm ranks 3rd for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee, 4th Tee To Green, 6th in Putting, 19th Around The Green and 28th for Approach.

Rahm has made 13 birdies (T1st) and an eagle in his first 36 holes.

Eight players within four shots off the lead have yet to win on the PGA Tour.

Second-placed Smalley is 2nd for SG: Tee to Green but 56th Around The Green and 30th for Putting.

Patrick Reed (tied third) is tied 1st with Rahm for birdies (13).

Alvaro Ortiz, the world No. 916, is the low Mexican so far on 5-under (tied 25th). Brother Carlos is two shots back in tied 47th while Abraham Ancer is a further shot in arrears in tied 58th.

Quotes

Jon Rahm (66, -12)

"The wind makes it a completely different golf course. So I feel like I might be a little bit more satisfied with today's score than yesterday. Yesterday I felt like I was really under control and relatively speaking stress free, right? Today was a bit more of a grind, but still a really good round of golf.

(On the weekend) "More of the same, keep hitting it good tee to green and keep making putts. I've been playing really good, I can't really complain about anything I'm doing right now, so hopefully I can keep that good ball-striking going and keep rolling it the way I have."

Alex Smalley (66, -10)

"Felt like I played well and was able to take advantage of some holes.

"Puntacana [where he was runner-up] and here have the same type of grass, it's Paspalum, so I feel pretty comfortable on Paspalum. So I was looking forward to the week to begin with. I don't know, I guess I like international destinations as well."

Adam Long (66, -9)

"I've just been working a lot on my swing over the last few months with Josh Gregory, my coach. So we've been able to get it to a point where it's pretty repetitive and the misses are close and the good ones are great.

"I had way too many mishits earlier in the season. So I've been able to get it closer to where I want to be. It's certainly not where I want it to be, but it's getting there."

Kurt Kitayama (70, -8)

"Been putting really well. I feel like I've been making a lot of putts, and especially my ball striking, too, gave myself a lot of opportunities. The course is playing long, so to give yourself a lot of opportunities, that's good."

Alvaro Ortiz (69, -5)

"Super excited. It means a lot to me to finally make a cut. I've missed a couple in a row on the Korn Ferry. Just feels good to be on the weekend again.

"I think I'm playing good golf. I've been working hard. My game is starting to feel where I think it should be and I'm just super excited to get this chance and, you know, make a good weekend and maybe a top 10."

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