Wrap-up: Curran increases lead in Brazil
March 15, 2014
- Jon Curran leads by four after three rounds in Brazil. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour staff
SAO PAULO, Brazil – Jon Curran kept his foot on the gas in Saturday’s third round of the Brasil Champions presented by HSBC and did his best to run away from any and all challengers. Curran’s 6-under 65 put him in the Web.com Tour record book (again) with an eye-popping 23-under 190 total, four in front of both Alex Cejka (63) and Ash Hall (65).
Oscar Fraustro (67) is the next closest at 15-under and eight shots back of the 27-year old who has led from the start and continues to keep everyone at arm’s length. Four others share fifth, nine back.
“I had never had a lead that big before so it was important to stay patient,” said Curran, who led by three after the weather-delayed first and second rounds were finally completed. “There are a lot of birdies to be had and you can’t get ahead of yourself. You’ve just got to plod along.”
Curran stumbled out of the gate and missed a four-foot birdie putt on the opening hole but then canned birdie putts of that same length on the next two holes and let everyone know the rookie wasn’t going to fold his tent on a sun-splashed Saturday.
“I’ve been calm all week,” he said. “I’ve had that a few times in my career and this is one where I feel really calm and at ease. When my thoughts do get ahead I don’t get too nervous.”
Curran, a scoreboard watcher by nature, has kept his eyes away from the electronic boards and focused on the task at hand. When the veteran Cejka charged up the board with eight birdies in 13 holes and cut the lead to one, Curran hit the accelerator and countered with birdies at 13, 16 and 17 to re-establish his cushion.
“The times I’ve seen the boards this week it hasn’t bothered me,” said the Vanderbilt grad. “Sometimes you can see it and you can get a little nervous or a little jolt of energy but every time I’ve seen it this week it doesn’t really register, which is good and where I want to be mentally.”
It helps to be up by four with only two serious challengers standing between you and your first career win.
Cejka, a longtime member of the PGA TOUR, finally broke the glass ceiling a few weeks ago by winning the season-opening Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, which was also plagued by bad weather and eventually shortened to 54 holes.
“I’m still on a high from Colombia. I’ve heard it from other players that once you win, or secure a (TOUR) card, whatever that is, it gets your mind a little freer. We all care but you play with less pressure,” said Cejka, whose 63 was the low round of the day. “I knew I had to go low not to lose ground. I’m playing well and having fun.”
ROUND 3 NOTES AND QUOTES:
• Third-round tee times ran from 10:40 am to 12:40 pm with play in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees.
• The ball was played “down” in round three
• Final round play will be in twosomes off the first tee. Times will run from 6:30 am to 12:15 pm with an expected finish time of 4:15 pm/local (3:15 pm ET).
• Curran has now held the outright lead after each of the first three rounds and will be looking for a wire-to-wire victory on Sunday. There has been only one such winner on Tour in the past five-plus years – Andres Gonzales won the 2012 Soboba Golf Classic.
• Curran’s 23-under score is one off the Tour record for most strokes under par after three rounds:
MOST STROKES UNDER PAR (54 HOLES)
Arjun Atwal, 2008 Chattanooga Classic
Tommy Gainey, 2010 Chiquita Classic
• Curran’s score of 190 tied the Tour’s all-time record score for 54 holes:
54 HOLES (OPENING ROUNDS, 72-HOLE EVENT)
David Branshaw, Whirlwind GC (Devil's Claw), (par 71), Chandler, Ariz., 2002 Gila River Golf Classic (23-under)
Jon Curran, Sao Paulo GC, (par 71), Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2014 Brasil Champions
Scott Piercy, Crestview CC (par 71), Wichita, Kan., 2008 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open (22-under)
Steve Wheatcroft, University of Maryland GC (par 71), College Park, Md., 2011 Melwood Prince George's County Open (22-under)
Chris Smith, The Champions Club (par 71), Omaha, Neb., 1997 Omaha Classic (21-under)
Arjun Atwal, Black Creek Club (par 72), Chattanooga, Tenn., 2008 Chattanooga Classic (24-under)
Kevin Chappell, The Georgian Bay Club (par 71), Raven GC at Lora Bay (par 72), Ontario, Canada, 2010 Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic (22-under)
Tommy Gainey, TPC River's Bend (par 72), Cincinnati, Ohio, 2010 Chiquita Classic (24-under)
• 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, MA, and now lives in Tequesta, FL. Curran is a 2009 graduate of Vanderbilt University.
ROUND 2 NOTES AND QUOTES:
• A total of 76 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 4-under 138. Last year’s cut was 2-under 140.
• Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for the second round.
• Jimmy Gunn did not return to complete his second round and officially withdrew.
• The second round resumed on time at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
• The winning score in last year’s inaugural event was 19-under 265 by Benjamin Alvarado.
• Sam Saunders ran off a string of five consecutive birdies. After starting on the back nine, Saunders made the turn and birdied Nos. 1-5 on the front nine. He finished with a 6-under 65.
• Matt Hendrix also started on the back nine and made the turn in 2-over 38. He turned things around with a 6-under 29 on the front for a round of 67.
• Best scores for the third round: 63 – Alex Cejka; 65 – Jon Curran, Ash Hall, Philip Pettitt Jr., Sam Saunders, Brett Wetterich, Casey Wittenberg
• Sunday’s winner will collect $144,000 from the purse of $800,000.
• Brad Schneider made his first career hole-in-one at the 128-yard, 2nd hole during Friday’s portion of round two. He returned to the course Saturday to complete his round and added an eagle-2 at the par-4, 16th when he holed a wedge from 110 yards.
• Ryan Sullivan, who played with Brad Schneider, also made a pair of eagles on the front nine par-5s (Nos. 3, 8).
• Camilo Benedetti had a pair of eagles on par-5s (Nos. 8, 13) in the second round.
• Lucas Lee, a Sao Paulo native who moved to California when he was 11, made the Tour’s second double-eagle in as many weeks. During Saturday’s second-round conclusion, Lee holed a 3-iron from 221 yard on the par-5, 17th and jumped from 2-under to 5-under for the tournament and made the cut by one stroke. Carlos Sainz, Jr. had a double-eagle last week at the Chile Classic.
• Double eagles are rare on the Web.com Tour but Lucas Lee and Carlos Sainz, Jr. have made double-eagles in consecutive weeks, which marks the third time in the past four years the double-double has occurred.
2014 – Carlos Sainz, Jr., Chile Classic & Lucas Lee, Brasil Champions
2012 – Justin Bolli, Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open & Steve Allan, United Leasing Championship
2011 – Rahil Gangjee, Mylan Classic & Camilo Benedetti, Albertsons Boise Open
• 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, Brad Schneider; 64 – Daniel Berger, Dawie van der Walt; 66 – Josh Broadaway, Chris Wilson; 67 – Kevin Kim, Aaron Watkins; 68 – Philip Pettitt, Bhavik Patel, Andrew Putnam
R3 – 63 – Alex Cejka; 65 – Casey Wittenberg; 66 – Andrew Putnam, James Nitties; 67 – Oscar Fraustro; 69 – Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
• There are nine players from Brazil in this week’s field:
- Erik Andersson 73-73—146 (+4) M/C
- Rafael Barcellos 70-71—141 (-1) M/C
- Rafa Becker 71-69—140 (-2) M/C
- Ronaldo Francisco 66-66-71—203 (-10) T10
- Lucas Lee 69-68-67—204 (-9) T25
- Fernando Mechereffe 67-69-70—206 (-7) T41
- Felipe Navarro 71-68—139 (-3) M/C
- Alexandre Rocha 70-70—140 (-2) M/C
- Daniel Stapff 72-72—144 (+2) M/C