For the second consecutive season, a former Oklahoma State superstar is the story at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. One year after his former OSU teammate (Viktor Hovland) won for the second time on the PGA Tour, Matthew Wolff leads by two as he looks for a second Tour victory of his own.
Wolff shot a El Camaleón Golf Course record 61 Thursday at in a round that included five birdies on either side of the golf course and no blemishes whatsoever. He's up two on Aaron Wise and three on Chris Kirk (who aced his first hole of the day) and a handful of others.
Let's dive deeper into Wolff's round and his chances of winning to end what has been an odd year for him and take a look at who could make a little run at him over what should be a very fun next 54 holes.
1. Matthew Wolff (-10): After a chaotic 2021 overall, Wolff emerged a few weeks ago at the Shriners Children's Open with a runner-up finish to Sungjae Im. It was his best performance in a year and provided a ton of hope for the future. The momentum has carried over into Mayakoba, which is extremely exciting considering Wolff's talent level and ceiling. Toss a suddenly-thriving Wolff into an already crazy contingent of golfers at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings, and anticipation for 2022 only gets turned up.
"I don't want to say [I'm back]," Wolff said. "I'm really confident in my game right now and I've proven over time when stuff goes well and I am confident I can kind of carry it over. So right now my swing feels really good, my head's in a good spot and I'm just happy to be out here regardless of the result. I'm just, you know, like I said, I'm just happy. I'm blessed to be out here. And it's not easy and there's a lot of up-and-downs, but you've just kind of got to go with it and that's something I'm learning as I'm getting older and being out here longer."
2. Aaron Wise (-8): Nobody is more pleased with Wise's performance than … well, me. He was my one-and-doneand came in off two consecutive top-10 finishes. He shot 29 on the front side of the golf course and 63 overall even with a bogey on the back side. His best stuff is not quite as good as Wolff's, but based on how he's been playing, I suspect he'll be around and very much in the mix until the end of this week.
"I just feel like I have pretty good vibes around here," Wise said. "Every now and again you find those courses where you just come and you're comfortable the moment you're on the grounds and this is one of those for me. I feel like I make my fair share of putts around here, I hit good iron shots and I get a lot of wedge opportunities, which is really good. At the end of the day you've still got to play good golf, but just coming here, I just feel happy, I feel good vibes and I feel like that translates into the golf."
T3. Talor Gooch, Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel, Sergio Garcia (-7): How about Kirk starting his event with an ace on a par 3?! He made another eagle on his fourth hole and was 5 under through four holes! He played the next 14 in just 2 under for the 64, but six birdies and two eagles portends well for the rest of the week for him.
T7. Joel Dahmen, J.J. Spaun, Russell Henley, Bill Haas (-6): Quite a crew here. Haas' last top 10 anywhere came at the 2019 John Deere Classic. He's currently ranked No. 744 in the world, which would be his lowest year-end ranking since 2003.
T11. Ian Poulter, Andrew Landry, Chez Reavie, Rickie Fowler, Adam Long, Sepp Straka, Brandt Snedker, John Huh, Andrew Novak (-5): The season of Oklahoma State golfers returning to form continues! Fowler played in the final pairing at the CJ Cup at Summit a few weeks ago, just a week after Wolff nearly won Shriners, and he's thriving again this week. As always, it's about limiting mistakes for him. He made eight birdies Thursday, which is not unusual for him (he's inside the top 40 in birdie average this season). If he can figure out how to clean up the other stuff, we'll see him truly contend for the second time in three tournaments as this weekend unfolds, which, like Wolff's good play, would be thrilling going into 2022.