Ames shoots a 66 in Puerto Rico

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:35 PM ET

Stephen Ames must be getting warmed up.

Admittedly a bit rusty after spending a few weeks hanging out with Old Man Winter in his adopted hometown, the Caribbean-born, Calgary-based golfer fired his best round of the season — a 6-under 66 — to climb the leaderboard during Friday’s second round of the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open.

Ames is tied for fourth at 9-under and is only one stroke behind co-leaders James Driscoll, Troy Matteson and Chris Tidland, although he’s still not totally satisfied with the state of his game.

“Ego talking here, I’m not happy with the way I’m hitting the golf ball, to be honest,” Ames told reporters after Friday’s round. “It feels OK. I was able to really get rid of it in my feelings and continue playing golf, which is what I have to do if I’m going to be successful or continue playing well.

“My short game feels good and my putter feels really good right now.”

Ames made six birdies in Friday’s bogey-free round at Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., also stayed within striking distance of the leaders, moving into a tie for 15th at 6-under. Matt McQuillan of Kingston, Ont., and Calgary-born Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C., both failed to survive the cut.

There’s a shortage of big names teeing it up at the Puerto Rico Open, an opposite-field event for those that didn’t qualify for the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral.

In fact, Ames will undoubtedly be one of the star attractions on the weekend.

The 46-year-old was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, but moved to Calgary in 1991 and has been a Canadian citizen since 2003. During an appearance in the press tent after Wednesday’s tuneup round, he told reporters that spending a week under the Caribbean sun is “like being back home again.”

“I haven’t felt this heat in a long time, so it’s nice to be back to it,” Ames said. “The conditions are nice. It’s always comfortable playing in the sunlight and the heat. It’s a little uncomfortable for me playing in the cold. I’m not big on that.”

Although the wind swirled during Friday’s second round, Ames refused to complain about the conditions.

He’s not about to mess with Mother Nature. After all, a fifth PGA Tour victory isn’t the only thing he’s after this week.

“I have zero expectations,” he insisted. “I hope the sun’s out, the wind’s blowing and I can work on my tan.”

Cadillac Championship

American Hunter Mahan has a one-stroke lead after two rounds at the star-studded WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral.

Mahan is 9-under through two rounds, one shot better than Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Italy’s Francesco Molinari. Fifteen other players are within five strokes of the lead in Florida.

Tiger Woods struggled in Friday’s second round, hitting a 122-yard drive on the second hole and falling to even-par for the tournament.

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

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