Date: February 22, 2008

Norman falters late as Merrick leads

Greg Norman took an early liking to the El Camaleon course in Playa del Carmen he helped design before falling away to be level with the card after the opening round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic. The Australian veteran moved to four-under after 10 holes and looked to threaten the leaders before three bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-3 7th hole dropped him back into the pack. There was no such misfortune for compatriot David Lutterus, who is the leading Australasian in the field after a five-under 65. That score places him in a tie for second alongside Englishman Kenneth Ferrie, and Americans Robert Damron and Larry Mize. Another American, John Merrick, fired a bogey-free six-under-par 64 top open up a one-stroke lead. Merrick, who has just one top-10 finish in 34 career PGA events, reeled off five birdies over his last 10 holes after playing a solid front nine. Mize and Damron also carded bogey-free rounds, while Ferrie reeled off three birdies over his final six holes. New Zealander Tim Wilkinson and Aussie Matt Jones are tied for ninth after three-under 67s, while Peter Lonard at two-under and Michael Sim at one-under are the best of the other Australasians in the field. Two-time major champion John Daly blasted his way to five-under at one stage before finishing with a 66. Defending champion Fred Funk struggled to a three-over 73 after registering four bogeys after picking up a birdie at his opening hole.