Rookie Hubbard leads by one in Puerto Rico

Thu Mar 5, 2015 7:10pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - A week after being disqualified from the Honda Classic for failing to register for the event, PGA Tour rookie Mark Hubbard charged one stroke clear with an opening four-under-par 68 at the Puerto Rico Open on Thursday.

Hubbard mixed six birdies with two bogeys, despite gusting winds on the Trump International course in Rio Grande, to end the day one ahead of fellow Americans Billy Mayfair and Chris Smith, and Argentina's Emiliano Grillo.

Former world number one David Duval of the United States and Germany's Alex Cejka were among a group of 11 players who carded 70s in the first round.

Hubbard was one under for the day after 12 holes but soared to the top of the leaderboard as he finished birdie-birdie-birdie-par-bogey-birdie.

"I drove it pretty well, kept it in the fairway and made a lot of solid five and six-footers," Hubbard told reporters. "It played tough out there with the wind."

Hubbard, who made the cut in his last eight starts on the lower-tier Web.com Tour in 2013-14 to earn his PGA Tour card for this season, has been on an unusual roller-coaster ride over the past three weeks.

He proposed to his girlfriend on the 18th green after the opening round of last month's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and was disqualified from last week's Honda Classic after failing to register as the tournament's first alternate.

"I've been getting a lot of press," said Hubbard.

American Chesson Hadley, who won last year's Puerto Rico Open as a PGA Tour rookie by two shots after surviving a late charge in the final round by New Zealand's Danny Lee, launched his title defense with a 71.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

 
Mark Hubbard (right) lines up his putt on the third hole as Scott Pinckney (center) looks on in the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course - South Course. Feb 6, 2015; La Jolla, CA, USA;  Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports