Joe Highsmith, Scott Piercy Share Lead In Suspended First Round Of Puerto Rico Open

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) — Rookie Joe Highsmith shot a bogey-free, 7-under 65 on Thursday to share the early first-round lead with veteran Scott Piercy at the weather-delayed Puerto Rico Open.

Play was stopped for nearly two hours in the afternoon because of heavy rain at Grand Reserve Golf Club, resulting in 54 players failing to finish before play was suspended due to darkness. The 132-man tournament is played opposite the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which has a limited field as a PGA Tour signature event.

Brice Garnett, Garrick Higgo and Erik Barnes were one shot back, and Kevin Streelman at 6 under through 14 holes was faring the best among those who didn’t finish.

Daniel Berger, making his fourth start since a back injury that sidelined him for 19 months, opened with a 3-under 69. He tied for second in his only previous start in Puerto Rico, in 2019.

San Juan native Rafael Campos, one of two Puerto Ricans in the field, was 5 under through 13 holes. Campos is playing the tournament for the 15th time.

The 23-year-old Highsmith, who played in college at Pepperdine and earned his card through the Korn Ferry Tour, has made two cuts in five starts this year, with his best finish a tie for 33rd at Torrey Pines.

“We had a pretty good break between that season and this and I feel like I kind of developed a few bad habits, so it’s been a tough start to the year and haven’t been playing too well,” Highsmith said. “But today I just got back to the basic stuff that works. It was nice to see a good score posted and feel like I was kind of playing my game again.”

Piercy, a 45-year-old, four-time winner on tour, holed an 8-iron from about 176 yards for eagle on his fifth hole of the day, the par-4 14th. He closed with three straight birdies.

“I holed it with an 8-iron on 14, I had an 8-iron into 13 that I hit about 15 feet,” Piercy said. “I had like five or six 8-irons today, which is kind of like the meat of my game.”