(Reuters) - German veteran Alex Cejka, still seeking his first PGA Tour victory, birdied three of his last five holes to grab a one-shot lead after the second round of the Puerto Rico Open on Friday.
The 44-year-old, who was born in communist Czechoslovakia and moved to Germany aged nine as a refugee with his father, fired a five-under-par 67 in blustery conditions on the Trump International course in Rio Grande.
That left Cejka at seven-under 137, a stroke in front of little-known American Brandon Hagy (67), who is playing on a sponsor’s exemption, and two ahead of Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (70).
Cejka, a four-times winner on the European Tour who has twice been a runner-up on the U.S. PGA Tour, vaulted to the top of the leaderboard with late birdies at the fifth, seventh and ninth, his final hole of the day.
“I like it here,” the German told reporters. “My short game is great. I made a lot of putts when I needed to and I‘m in a great position right now.”
American Chesson Hadley, who won last year’s Puerto Rico Open as a PGA Tour rookie by two shots, was among a group of seven players knotted at three under after carding a 70.
Also at three under were Australia’s Rod Pampling (71) and Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge (70).
The cut fell at two-over 146 with former major winners Trevor Immelman of South Africa and Americans Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton and Mark Calcavecchia among those missing out.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry