While most eyes are on Austin, Texas, for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play this week, another PGA Tour event is being played in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
The Corales Puntacana Championship is the opposite field event and is currently being led by Ben Martin. Martin has missed two cuts in three appearances on Tour this season, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping him.
The 565th ranked player in the world has opened with consecutive 66s at Corales Golf Club with 16 birdies already through two rounds.
“This week the putter’s been nice. I think when you’re confident with the flat stick, it sort of takes pressure off of every other part of your game,” Martin said after his round Friday. “I’ve just been in a great mindset. I think more than anything, my swing feels in a good place, I’m rolling it nice. So everything kind of feels easy and I’m not putting too much pressure on myself and making some birdies when I have chances, but not trying to do too much.”
Ben Martin lines up a putt on the 18th green during the second round of the 2022 Corales Puntacana Championship at the Corales Golf Course in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
When asked if he’ll make any adjustments over the weekend, Martin said he’s not going to try too hard.
“I’m in a great mindset. I think just trying to enjoy as much as I can. It sounds weird, but try like less, I guess, right? Like, not try too hard. I think a lot of us out here probably, and if you play golf at all you probably try too hard a lot of times. But enjoying the round and taking what comes. Hopefully, if I can continue to have that same mindset, the weekend will be pretty good.”
Martin does have a PGA Tour win under his belt which came at the 2014 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Alex Smalley is the closest competitor to Martin thanks to a Friday 65 that included an eagle, seven birdies, and a double-bogey. His round started with the double-square, but it could have been worse if it wasn’t for his mom.
“Obviously it’s not start that I wanted. Hit it in the left bunker. Lie was fine, it wasn’t that bad. It was a little on the upslope and just went a little left,” Smalley said after his second round. “It was going towards a palm tree and it caught the palm tree and just happened to be a bunch of bushes at the bottom of the palm tree.
“Luckily, my mom found the ball. It was pretty thick. I thought I had to go back to the bunker because it was pretty bad, but she ended up finding it and I took an unplayable and knocked it up on the green two-putted for 6. Obviously, not how I wanted to start, not super happy, but she saved me a good 190-yard walk.”
Three back at 9 under are Adam Schenk and Chad Ramey, while European Ryder Cup legend and major champion Graeme McDowell sits four back at 8 under. Defending champion Joel Dahmen withdrew prior to the second round due to illness.