May 12 Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello rattled home three birdies in his final four holes to tie Canadian David Hearn for the clubhouse lead during the second round at The Players Championship on Friday.
Low scores were difficult to come by on another sizzling hot morning at the TPC Sawgrass in Florida with Cabrera Bello carding a two-under 70 and Hearn a 69.
They set the pace at five-under 139, one stroke ahead of Americans Webb Simpson and Chez Reavie and Spaniard Jon Rahm with half the field back in the clubhouse in Ponte Vedra.
U.S. Masters champion Sergio Garcia, world number one Dustin Johnson and number two Rory McIlroy were all five strokes behind in a tightly-bunched field.
Cabrera Bello said he did not know if there was a Spanish secret to playing well at Sawgrass, where Garcia won nine years ago.
“You should ask Sergio. He’ll tell you,” Cabrera Bello told reporters, observing that he played well for most of the day but struggled to convert his good shots into birdies until near the end.
“I was hitting most of the fairways, most of the greens, not really getting the birdies. I felt it was hard for me to generate momentum because I didn't feel putts were dropping.”
World number 35 Cabrera Bello has won four times on the European Tour, most recently in 2012.
Hearn, meanwhile, has not won on the PGA Tour, though he has two runner-up finishes.
He has shown no form to speak of this year.
“Nobody says that you have to play great last week to play great this week,” said Hearn, who tied for sixth at Sawgrass three years ago.
“You got to step up at some point in time and play golf and I feel like my game's been very close this year.
“I tend to be the type of player that I can play these hard golf courses well, so I don't see any reason I can't play well this week and I feel like my game is in good shape.”
Fellow Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, the first-round co-leader with American William McGirt, shot 75 to slip three strokes off the pace.
McGirt had a late tee time. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond)