Leon takes lead in rain-shortened first day of Web.com Tour season
February 13, 2014
By Joe Chemycz, PGATOUR.COM
- Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
BOGOTA, Colombia – Chile’s Hugo Leon fired a 5-under 66 Thursday morning to grab the clubhouse lead in the weather-delayed Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship presented by Claro, the opening event on the 2014 Web.com Tour schedule. Leon bogeyed his third hole of the day and bounced back with six birdies to move to the front of the pack by one stroke over Steve LeBrun and rookies Kyle Stough and Carlos Ortiz.
Any fanfare about the start of the Tour’s 25th season was dampened by afternoon rains that forced a halt in play at 2:45 p.m. The Country Club de Bogota had not seen measureable rain in more than two weeks but nearly a third of an inch fell quickly and resulted in play being called for the day at 4:30 p.m.
Brazil’s Alexandre Rocha played the back nine in 4-under before play was halted and will lead the field back to the course to resume the first round at 7 a.m. Friday.
“It was a really clean round of golf today,” said Leon, who played eight events and earned two top-10 finishes on NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamerica last year. “I was down the middle. I put the ball in the right spots on the greens, which means leaving yourself uphill putts. I also played the par-3s really clean and that’s hard to do on this course.”
While most of the field is getting out of the gate after a lengthy off-season, Leon is in high gear.
“I never take too many breaks from the game,” he said. “After I finished in the States in mid-December I went straight to Chile where it’s summertime. Our tour started in the beginning of January and this is my sixth event in a row. I purposely wanted to play as much as I could so I could get here and not be trying to knock the rust off.”
Stough, a 25-year-old Tour rookie, also has been keeping busy during the down time in an effort to get a jump on the 2014 campaign.
“I don’t really stop playing,” said the Maryland resident. “I’m not much of an off-season guy. I’m always playing when I’m back home so there’s not a lot of rust at this point. I would like to get off to a good start, make a couple cuts and have some good finishes to set up the rest of the year.”
Stough spent the 2013 season with PGA TOUR Canada, where he had a pair of runner-up finishes and wound up No. 10 on the Order of Merit.
The 2010 University of Virginia grad likes what he sees in the tree-lined course this week.
“It’s thinking man’s golf. It requires discipline and sticking to your strategy for the week and that means hitting 5-irons off the tee,” he said. “You have to pick your spots and be very careful because two or three yards too far on your approach can put you over the green and you won’t get up and down. If you play it correctly you can shoot a good number. If you try to push it and get too aggressive it’ll slap you in the face.”
First-Round Notes & Quotes:
• Thursday weather: Lightning forced a suspension in play at 2:45 p.m. ET. Play was called for the day at 4:30 p.m. with half the field unable to complete the round. Approximately 0.31 inches of rain during the suspension. Thursday’s rain was the first official rainfall in more than two weeks.
• Round 1 will resume at 7AM Friday.
• Round 2 is scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m. Tee times will run from 9:15-11:05 a.m. and from 2-3:50 p.m.
• Jesper Parnevik’s Web.com Tour debut didn’t last long. The five-time PGA TOUR winner withdrew after nine holes due to back problems. Parnevik started on the back nine with a par but then triple-bogeyed the 11th. He also double-bogeyed No. 13 and was 7-over after his first six holes. He closed with three straight pars for a 7-over 43.
• The five graduates of NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamerica combined to shoot even par on Thursday. Manuel Villegas carded a 2-under 69 to lead his class. Three others – Tim O’Neal, Ryan Blaum and Jorge Fernandez Valdes -- shot even-71s while 2013 money leader Jose de Jesus Rodriguez finished the day 2 over through eight holes.
• Steven Alker withdrew prior to the start of his round due to a wrist problem. He was replaced in the field by alternate Kevin Kim.
• Pepperdine’s Andrew Putnam is one of several players in the clubhouse with a 3-under 68. Putnam’s round was impressive considering he came down with food poisoning Monday night.
“I was just trying to survive to be honest,” he said. “My head was spinning and I had no energy out there. I woke up Tuesday and literally threw up every hour for 14 hours straight. I still can’t eat. You always play well when you’re sick because you’re not thinking about anything. You just try to hit the shot and move on to the next one.”
Putnam had four birdies and one bogey during his round, which wasn’t as good as his pro-am on Tuesday when he chalked up six birdies in nine holes before he had to call it quits.
“I don’t know how I was 6-under at that point,” he laughed.