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Joe Highsmith pulls ahead before Puerto Rico Open suspended by darkness

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) — Joe Highsmith did his best to create some separation in the Puerto Rico Open on Friday, making a pair of late birdies to get the lead before darkness prevented the rain-delayed second round from being completed.

Highsmith, the 23-year-old rookie who starred at Pepperdine, was at 13-under par. He will return to Grand Reserve on Saturday morning to finish his last three holes.

He was one shot ahead of six other players who had already completed their rounds, a group that included Rafael Campos (67), Matti Schmid (65), Kevin Streelman (67) and Ryo Hisatsune (67). They were at 12-under 132.

The pressure is squarely on Campos, the 35-year-old from Puerto Rico seeking his first win on the PGA Tour.

“I have a lot of pressure, a lot of stress out there, but truth is I try to really blank out and not really pay attention to what’s going on in my surrounding," Campos said. "Obviously, I know what they want at the end of the week and it would be my dream as well. But I’m just trying to honestly hit the next shot and kind of play smart.

“I feel the game’s in a really good spot right now. It’s just tougher here in Puerto Rico just knowing I want to win.”

Hisatsune, a 21-year-old tour rookie from Japan, already has three titles in Japan and one on the European tour.

The first round was delayed by rain, and when it was completed on Friday morning, there was an eight-way share of the lead. That was the most on the PGA Tour since nine players shared the lead at Riviera in the 2011 Northern Trust Open.

Highsmith was part of that group. He began the second round on the 10th hole with a birdie, made the turn with an eagle and had three birdies on the front nine until play was suspended.

Streelman is the most experienced player of the contenders with two PGA Tour victories. Another former winner is Brice Garnett, who had another 66.

Garnett won in the Dominican Republic in 2018, another opposite-field event. But he slipped to No. 163 in the FedEx Cup last year and has low status (past champion). Given the way this year has gone, the Puerto Rico Open was the first tournament he could play.

“I was working with my coach, John Tillery, last week and I told him this is my Augusta right now,” Garnett said. “This is my week to get in the shuffle and maybe get a few more events sometime later in the year. Came in motivated, came in with my game sharp and it’s paying off.”

Defending champion Nico Echavarria of Chile had a 67 and was at 9-under 135.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf