The 2013 Puerto Rico Open might be an alternate tournament to those who don't participate in the WGC Cadillac Championship, but don't tell the five golfers within three strokes of each other that as we approach the final two rounds in Rio Grande.
In the five-year history of the Open as a PGA Tour event, an American has taken home the trophy on Sunday each time. This year, Argentinian-born Andres Romero is making a strong push to ensure we never claim that to be the case again.
Romero shot his second-consecutive seven-under 65 on Friday, pacing the field for a second day and now heading into the third round of the event with a one-stroke lead over Scott Brown—who charged to the top of the leaderboard with his round-best nine-under 63 on Friday.
Elsewhere, last week's surprise rookie Luke Guthrie rebounded from an average Round 1 with a five-under 65, putting himself within striking distance over the final two rounds, while noted Tour pros K.J. Choi, John Daly and Y.E. Yang all expect to stay above the expected cut line of -3.
Here's a complete look at Friday afternoon's leaderboard from Puerto Rico, and some analysis on who is playing well enough to take home the championship on Sunday.
Leaderboard (Courtesy of PGATOUR.com)
While the field is stacked with competitive participants, Romero has asserted himself as the man to beat after two rounds. He's played consistent golf and turned in an eight-birdie card that featured just one bogey on Friday.
Brown, however, got the crowd going with his eagle on the par-four 7th, and he too put in eight birdies en route to a 63—the best score of the day by a stroke.
While Romero, Brown, Peter Uihlein, Steve LeBrun and Fabian Gomez round out the top five, there is plenty of competition from guys that sit just three and four strokes off the pace.
Matt Bettencourt, who had the shot of the day on Thursday, leads a group of golfers tied for 6th-place at nine-under. That group includes another Argentinian looking to climb back to the top of the heap, former U.S. Open and Masters champion Angel Cabrera.
Jordan Spieth stormed back to join the group sitting in sixth, as he birdied five of his last nine holes en route to a 66 and a place in the top 10 golfers on the board. 2012 champion George McNeill also sits at nine-under, and he's a golfer to watch on Saturday and Sunday.
Fresh off of his third-place finish at the Honda Classic, Luke Guthrie remains seven strokes behind the leader. Guthrie has to be frustrated with letting Michael Thompson come back to nip him at the end last week, so it should be fun to watch his response down the stretch in Puerto Rico.
Gear up for two exciting days in Rio Grande. The big boys might be taking care of business at the Cadillac Championship, but the Puerto Rico Open offers plenty of opportunity to check out some of the sports' up-and-coming talent in a PGA Tour event.