The PGA Tour does not stage events in Mexico often, so Alvaro Oritz is taking full advantage of his opportunity at this week’s Mexico Open at Vidanta.

And he is having fun doing so—as a sponsor’s exemption, no less.

Ortiz, who hails from Guadalajara, Mexico, shot up the leaderboard Friday, thanks to his splendid 7-under 64. He made five birdies on the back side—his opening nine—and made a terrific 30-footer for eagle at the par-5 6th.

He now holds a share of the lead at 11-under with Matt Wallace of England and Finland’s Sami Valimaki at the midway point.

“It’s awesome to have my family, to have my friends, to have my people. We don’t get to play much in Mexico, so it’s pretty cool to be out here, to be playing well and feel the support from them,” Ortiz said after Friday’s second round.

“It’s more fun, it’s more fun [playing in Mexico]. I don’t get to do that often. Like many people, the yelling, it’s fun. I don’t get that much in the States, but it’s pretty cool to see how many people are coming, and hopefully, it will be packed this weekend.”

Should Ortiz remain in contention throughout the weekend, the galleries at Vidanta Vallarta will flock to the 28-year-old Mexican.

Mexico Open at Vidanta - Round Two, Alvaro Ortiz

Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

It will come down to his putter, and if it can remain hot. Right now, Ortiz ranks third in the field in strokes gained putting. But he has given himself plenty of opportunities, too.

“I think definitely the ball-striking, it was very solid from tee to green,” Ortiz said when asked what went well for him on Friday.

“I actually putted very well [too]. I didn’t make as many putts as yesterday, but I definitely feel very solid out there. Just very comfortable. I’ve been working really hard on my swing this past year, and it’s good to see the hard work paying off.”

After missing the cut at the Mexico Open last year, Ortiz spent his 2023 season primarily on the Mexican professional golf circuit and the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

He then made it to the final stages of Q-School, where he tied for 21st, thus earning a Korn Ferry Tour card for the 2024 season. The top 40 finishers—outside of the top five—earned playing privileges on the Korn Ferry Tour this season.

“I think I closed very strong on the Latin America season and then played very well in the Mexican Tour, and that carried over, that momentum, to Q-School,” Ortiz said.

“Been playing really well. Just excited to get this opportunity. Very grateful to Grupo Salinas and Vidanta, they make this happen. They invited me back, so happy to be in the weekend.”

Should Ortiz go on to win, he would receive an invitation to Augusta National.

That would be pretty special, considering he competed in The Masters in 2019 as an amateur after winning the Latin America Amateur Championship. Ortiz finished one stroke behind Viktor Hovland that year; otherwise, he would have been low-amateur.

Nonetheless, Ortiz feels confident in his game, and rightfully so. He has the talent to succeed at the highest levels, just like his brother Carlos.

“[Everything] was pretty solid. From tee to green, it was as good as it could be,” Ortiz said.

“I hit the ball very well and just felt very comfortable out there. It was very clean, very stress-free… Happy to be in the position I’m in.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

End