Rahm grabs two-shot lead at Mexico Open

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Jon Rahm faced the wind and handled it just as well in the Mexico Open, making eight birdies on his way to a five-under 66 that gave the world's No. 2 player a two-shot lead over Alex Smalley.

Rahm birdied all four of the par 5s, including the 18th hole at Vallarta Vidanta with a four-iron from light rough to just short of the green, a pitch to six feet and one last putt.

He was at 12-under 130 going into the weekend.

Smalley was playing on the other side of the course, where he did most of his work.

His highlight was holing out from 165 yards on the par-4 third hole for eagle.

He had eagle chances on consecutive holes late in his round, two-putting from 35-feet on the par-5 sixth and driving the 291-yard seventh hole to 30 feet for another two-putt birdie.

He finished with a 66 and will be in the final group with Rahm.

Rahm was two shots higher than his opening round, in which the Spaniard never had to deal with the wind until the final four holes.

"I feel like I might be a little bit more satisfied with today's score than yesterday," Rahm said.

"Yesterday I felt like I was really under control and relatively speaking stress free. Today was a bit more of a grind, but still a really good round of golf."

Patrick Reed ran off two late birdies and was poised to close out his round with a third in a row until a pedestrian pitch from just short of the green on the par-5 18th. He had to settle for par and a 66, leaving him in a large group that was three shots behind.

Cameron Champ, who played alongside Rahm and handled the wind with his penetrating ball flight, had a 66 to reach nine-under 133. Champ and Reed were joined by Trey Mullinax (69), Adam Long (66) and Andrew Novak (67).

Smalley, a Duke graduate in his rookie year on the PGA Tour, had a runner-up finish in the Dominican Republic a month ago.

Both courses have the same kind of grass on the greens, and Smalley said he picked up plenty of experience playing in the final group on the weekend, starting with the belief he can compete on tour.

He also was a quick study on the wind, that made some of the par 4s more difficult to reach than some of the 600-yard par 5s.

Smalley had a five-iron for his second shot into the 608-yard sixth. Two holes later, he had three-wood for his second shot on the 515-yard eighth hole, barely reaching the front of the green. That led to a beautiful lag from 65 feet for a par.

"That's what happens when you have winds that are gusting 25," Smalley said.

The cut was at two-under 140. Among those who made it to the weekend were Australians Brett Drewitt and Matt Jones.

Drewitt shot a 70 to go with his first-round 68 to be four-under for the tournament, in a tie for 37th.

Jones squeezed in with a second-round 69 to be two under.

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