Rookie Curran off to incredible start in Brazil
Vandy graduate at 17 under after 36 holes of rain-delayed event
March 14, 2014
- Curran was making everything on the greens Friday. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour staff
SAO PAULO, Brazil – Jon Curran had to pinch himself to make sure it wasn’t a dream. The 27-year old Vanderbilt grad had been making putt after putt after putt and he wanted to be certain what was transpiring in the first and second rounds of the weather-delayed Brasil Champions presented by HSBC was real.
It was. It is.
“It’s probably the best I’ve ever played or putted or scored for 36 holes,” said Curran, who nearly rewrote the Web.com Tour record book.
Instead he’ll have to settle for adding his name to several categories after posting rounds of 61-64 for two-day total of 17-under 125, which is good for a five-shot lead halfway into matters at the Sao Paulo Golf Club.
“I wasn’t sure what was going on,” said the Massachusetts native who now calls Tequesta, Fla., home. “It was ridiculous. I just wondered what the heck was going on.”
Birdies were going on.
The threat of lightning Thursday afternoon halted play and forced half the field to return Friday. Curran came back to the course Friday morning to finish seven holes of his opening round. With softened greens, no wind and lift, clean and place conditions in effect, he promptly birdied the first six of seven and turned a 4-under round into a 10-under round of 61, setting a new course record in the process.
He had about 20 minutes to get to the 10th tee and begin Round 2, starting on the same side that he had chalked eight straight birdies the first time around. Curran started with three in a row, giving him nine in just 10 holes.
“It sounds cliche but I wasn’t doing anything special,” he said. “I was making a lot of putts from 10 feet, from 4 feet, from 15 feet. I was hitting a lot of quality iron shots and putting it in the fairway. I was giving myself a lot of chances to hit it close and I felt pretty confident with the putter.
Curran, a rookie on Tour this year, had only two hiccups in 36 holes, both in the second round – he missed a five-footer for par at No. 18 and then three-putted on the par-5, 8th hole to derail his record run.
“I came here and saw this golf course and thought it was awesome,” he said. “It’s short and plays into my advantages because I hit a lot of wedges. I didn’t want to jinx it but I really do like it here.”
Curran’s two-day score of 125 is one off the all-time mark set by Kevin Chappell at the 2010 Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic. His 17-under score is two off the Tour’s mark for most strokes under par after 36 holes which is held by Chappell and Webb Simpson (2008 Chattanooga Classic).
“I’m always looking at the leaderboards but I didn’t today,” said Curran. “I’m always looking at the board when I’m on the cut line. I can’t get myself to ignore it. Today I just went along. I was in the zone, there’s nothing more I can say about it.”
Curran’s nearest challenger is former Florida Gator Andres Echavarria, who birdied four par-3s en route to an 8-under 63 and a 12-under 130 total.
Oscar Fraustro (64) and Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship winner Alex Cejka (66) share third place at 11-under, six back.
Play was halted at 4:15 when more lightning bubbled up and sent half the field into the cover of the clubhouse. With a thunderstorm brewing, play was called for the day. Second-round play will resume at 7 am Saturday.
ROUND 2 PHOTOS Click here for the gallery
Second-Round Notes & Quotes:
• Friday weather: Mostly sunny. Winds NNE 5-10 mph until 3 pm, then shifting SE 10-20 mph with gusts to 37 mph. Daytime high of 90. Overnight low of 70.
• The second round began at 8 a.m.
• Play was suspended due to dangerous conditions at 4:15 p.m. with half the field still on the golf course. The second round will resume with players in position at 7 a.m. Saturday.
• Third-round tee times will run from approximately 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Play will be in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees.
• The low 65 players (and ties) will advance to the final two rounds. There are currently 52 players at 5-under. There are 65 players at 4-under. Last year 74 players made the 36-hole cut which was 2-under 140.
• Lift, clean and place conditions are in effect for the second round.
• Birdies abound in the round with the par-71 layout currently playing to a scoring average of 68.935.
• Jon Curran etched his name in the record books with his scores of 61-64, one off the all-time mark:
36 HOLES (OPENING ROUNDS)
Kevin Chappell, The Georgian Bay Club (par 71), Raven GC at Lora Bay (par 72), Ontario, Canada, 2010 Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic (19-under)
Jason Gore, Whirlwind GC, (par 71), (Devil's Claw), Chandler, Ariz., 2002 Gila River Golf Classic (17-under)
Webb Simpson, Black Creek Club (par 72), Chattanooga, Tenn., 2008 Chattanooga Classic (19-under)
Luke Guthrie, Champions Run, (par 71), Omaha, Neb., 2012 Cox Classic (17-under)
Jon Curran, Sao Paulo GC, (par 71), Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2014 Brasil Champions (17-under)
• If it holds up, Curran’s five stroke lead could become the largest on Tour since 2011 when Steve Wheatcroft was up by a tour-record seven halfway through the Melwood Prince’s George’s County Open.
• Andres Echavarria’s 63 matched the previous course record, which was busted by Curran in the opening round.
• Echavarria, who is a conditional member of the Tour this season, made the cut in nine of 11 starts on the NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamerica last year and finished 18th on the Order of Merit. He has made nine cuts in 14 Web.com Tour starts since 2011 and his best finish came at the 2011 Chitimacha Louisiana Open, where he was solo second while competing as an amateur.
• Echavarria, 26, graduated from the University of Florida in 2011. He calls Medellin, Colombia home.
• Oscar Fraustro jumped into contention with a 7-under 64 that was highlighted by a birdie-eagle-birdie (3-3-3) finish. The 64 represents his lowest score on the Web.com Tour. Previously he posted a 65 in the second round of the 2011 Mexico Open and a 65 in the final round of this tournament last year.
• Oscar Fraustro’s 11-under 131 total also represents his Tour-low for strokes under par after 36 holes and best 36-hole score.
First-Round Notes & Quotes:
• The first round resumed on time at 7am. Here’s what the leaderboard looked like after Thursday’s suspension:
1. Daniel Berger 64 (-7)
Jeff Curl 64 (-7)
Michael Connell -7 thru 17•
4. Tom Gillis 65 (-6)
Tom Hoge 65 (-6)
Ash Hall 65 (-6)
Adam Crawford -6 thru 16
• Here’s what the leaderboard looked like after the first round was complete:
1. Jon Curran 61 (-10)
2. Daniel Berger 64 (-7)
Jeff Curl 64 (-7)
Michael Connell 64 (-7)
5. Nine players at 65 (-6)
• Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for Round 1.
• Adam Hadwin, winner of last week’s Chile Classic, posted a 6-under 65 in the first round.
• Alex Cejka, winner of the season-opening Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, also shot a 65 in the first round.
JON CURRAN (10-under 61)
• Jon Curran returned to the course Friday needing to complete seven holes on the back nine. Curran had birdied the 10th and 11th holes (chip-in) Thursday and was 4-under when play was suspended. He was crisp with his irons Friday morning and promptly birdied the first six holes (Nos. 12-17) before a lengthy two-putt par on No. 18. Curran’s 10-under 61 put him into first place, three shots in front of three others.
Curran’s 61 established a new, official course record at the Sao Paulo Golf Club. Benjamin Alvarado, the 2013 champion, had posted an 8-under 63 in the second round last year and that score was matched by Wes Roach in round three. The unofficial record of 12-under 59 was set earlier this week by Derek Fathauer in Tuesday’s practice round.
• Curran also set several tournament records with his round of 61 –
61 Lowest 18-hole score
28 Lowest 9-hole score (back nine)
8 Consecutive birdies
3 Largest 18-hole lead
• Curran is in his first full season as a member of the Web.com Tour. He had made only career start (T39 at 2013 Utah Championship) prior to this year.
• In his two starts this year, Curran finished T21 at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship and missed the cut at last week’s Chile Classic.
• Curran has made one cut in four career starts on the PGA TOUR. He tied for 24th at the 2013 Puerto Rico Open. His missed cuts came at the 2010 US Open, the 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the 2013 Travelers Championship.
• Curran turned 27 years old on Feb. 17. He is originally from Hopkinton, Mass., and now lives in Tequesta, Fla. Curran is a 2009 graduate of Vanderbilt University.
• Curran’s 8-under 28 on the back nine tied the fifth lowest in Tour history. There have been four 27s posted, including ones by Chesson Hadley (BMW Charity Pro-Am) and Chad Collins (Utah Championship) last year. Curran’s 28 is the 33rd such score posted on the Web.com Tour.
• Curran’s three-stroke lead is the largest 18-hole lead on Tour since Trevor Murphy led by three at the 2012 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.
• Curran’s eight consecutive birdies in round one matched the second-best streak in Tour history:
MOST CONSECUTIVE BIRDIES
Omar Uresti, Southern Trace CC, Shreveport, La., third round, 1994 Shreveport Open (holes 4-12)
Franklin Langham, Hardscrabble CC, Fort Smith, Ark., second round, 2004 Rheem Classic (holes 3-10)
Jason Gore, Champions Run, Omaha, Neb., fourth round, 2005 Cox Classic (holes 3-10)
Tim Wilkinson, Fox Den CC, Knoxville, Tenn., first round, 2006 Knoxville Open (holes 7-14)
Michael Sim, Daniel Island Club (Ralston Creek), Daniel Island, S.C., first round, 2009 Web.com Tour Championship at Daniel Island (holes 4-11)
Roberto Castro, The CC at Soboba Springs, San Jacinto, Calif., second round, 2010 Soboba Golf Classic (holes 17-6)
Jon Curran, Sao Paulo GC, Sao Paulo, Brazil, first round, 2014 Brazil Champions (holes 10-17)
• The winning score in last year’s inaugural event was 19-under 265 by Benjamin Alvarado.
• Brad Schneider made a hole-in-one at the 128-yard, 2nd hole.
• Ryan Sullivan made a pair of eagles on the front nine par-5s (Nos. 3, 8).
• Players who were bogey-free in a round this week:
R1 – 61 – Jon Curran; 64 – Michael Connell; 65 – Ash Hall, Cliff Kresge, Alex Cejka; 66 – Sung Kang, Shane Bertsch, Jeff Klauk; 67 – Skip Kendall, Steve Friesen; 68 – Camilo Benedetti
R2 – 63 – Andres Echavarria; 67 – Kevin Kim; 68 – Philip Pettitt, Bhavik Patel, Andrew Putnam
• There are eight players from Brazil in this week’s field:
- Erik Andersson 73-73—146 (+4)
- Rafael Barcellos 70
- Rafa Becker 71
- Ronaldo Francisco 66-66—132 (-10)
- Fernando Mechereffe 67-69—136 (-6)
- Felipe Navarro 71-68—139 (-3)
- Alexandre Rocha 70
- Daniel Stapff 72-72—144 (+2)