Patel shoots 9-under 62 to open Brasil Champions
March 31, 2016
By Royce Thompson, PGATOUR.COM
- Bhavik Patel made 11 birdies and two bogeys in his opening round at São Paulo GC. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
SAO PAULO, Brazil – Bhavik Patel grabbed the first-round lead at the Brasil Champions presented by Embrase with a 9-under 62 on Thursday afternoon at São Paulo Golf Club. Patel leads by one over Argentina’s Julian Etulain and Matt Atkins.
Two back are Travis Bertoni, Oscar Fraustro, Andrew Svoboda, São Paulo native Lucas Lee, Sebastian Cappelen and Ryan Yip.
“I just zoned out,” said Patel, who didn’t realize he recorded 11 birdies on his scorecard. “It was working, so I didn’t even think about it.”
Patel, who teed off No. 10 at 12:10 p.m. local time, opened his round par-bogey-par. After a birdie on the par-5 13th hole, the 25-year-old from Bakersfield, California drained a 30-footer on 14 and a 40-footer on 15 to get into red numbers.
“I made two bombs and just kind of kept it going from there,” said Patel, who rattled off five birdies in a row after his first bogey. “It was fun.”
Patel recorded a second bogey on his opening nine after an errant approach on No. 18 found the water. The former Fresno State Bulldog bounced back with three straight birdies to start his second nine, and three more coming in to take the outright lead in a Web.com Tour event for the first time in his career.
“My distance control was really good,” said Patel, who had a 5-foot putt on the par-3 ninth for 28. “I hit it pretty close to pin high, had a couple of tap-ins and made two pretty big putts. Let’s keep it going.”
Thursday’s 62 is the lowest round Patel has recorded in 111 competitive rounds on Tour. The former California State Amateur champion missed the cut at the Cub Colombia Championship Presented by Claro, his first start of the season, but remained positive knowing he could turn it around.
“I’ve been telling myself (that) if I could just make a few putts, it could all come together,” said Patel. “This is a really good boost to the confidence. I just need to keep it going.”
Bhavik Patel interview after Round 1 of the Brasil Champions
Two weeks ago, Etulain finished runner-up at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by NACHER after two missed opportunities to force overtime coming down the stretch. On Thursday morning, the 27-year-old from Coronel Suarez, Buenos Aires, Argentina fired a bogey-free 63, the best score of his Tour career.
“I was very frustrated after the final round,” said Etulain, when asked about his play in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Etulain spent his off-time sharpening his short game in preparation for this week. The former Order of Merit winner on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica made eight birdies in the first round but called his par-save on the par-4 11th hole, where he drained a 25-foot putt for par, the key to his day.
Etulain arrived in São Paulo excited to tee it up but also feeling a little under the weather.
“I threw up on Tuesday and Wednesday and today I felt the exact same,” said Etulain, who has been battling a stomach bug. “Maybe it was something I ate.”
Last year Etulain fired a final-round 64 at São Paulo Golf Club and tied for second. The three-time PGA TOUR Latinoamérica winner enjoys playing in Brazil and has revamped his mental approach on the golf course after a meeting with his sport psychologist in February.
“I just try and do my best to put the ball in the fairway and then onto the green,” said Etulain. “I have confidence in my putting so I will try and do the same tomorrow.”
Bhavik Patel shoots 62 to lead at the Brasil Champions
* Thursday weather: Mostly sunny, High: 83, Low: 73, Winds: N-SE 5-10 mph.
* Bhavik Patel has played in 35 Tour events and recorded eight top-25s including a solo sixth at the Club Colombia Championship Presented by Claro and T6 at the 2014 Chile Classic.
* This is the first 18-hole lead of Patel’s career.
* Patel’s previous low round was a 64 in the third round of the 2013 Utah Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission.
* Julian Etulain’s 63 is his lowest opening round as well as lowest score on Tour in 44 starts.
* His previous best score on Tour was 64, which he posted three times in 2015. (Brasil Champions – R4, Price Cutter Charity Championship – R2, News Sentinel Open – R4).
* Matt Atkins bested his career-low round on Tour by two strokes on Thursday afternoon (65 – Club Colombia Championship Presented by Claro/R3).
* In February, Atkins finished T2 at the Club Colombia Championship and is currently No. 7 on the Tour money list.
* Brazil’s Rafael Becker is making his fourth consecutive appearance in the Brasil Champions. Becker’s only made cut in the event came in 2013 as amateur; he carded 70-70-70-66—276 for a T26.
* Becker is currently a member of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. In 34 starts he has posted six top-10s including a win at the 2014 Aberto do Brasil. Becker fired a final-round 62 at Gavea Golf Club in Rio de Janeiro and won by three strokes over Ariel Canete and Joel Dahmen.
* Becker played his college golf at Wichita State University where he graduated with a degree in International Business and was named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 2012. The 24-year-old Dallas, Texas resident racked up an impressive list of junior golf wins including the Brazilian Amateur Championship (2010, 2011, 2012) and the Brazilian Junior Championship (2008, 2009).
"Today I played very calmly, without thinking about the result," he said. "My mind was on the round today, without creating many expectations. I want to play my best, without worrying about the results."
* There are nine Brazilian players in the field this week:
Player Score Position Rafael Barcellos 72 T113 Rafael Becker 65 10 Pedro de Costa Lima 73 T126 Ronaldo Francisco 77 143 Lucas Lee 64 T4 Rodrigo Lee 70 T79 Felipe Navarro 72 T113 Alexandre Rocha 69 T54 Andre Tourinho 70 T79
* Chitimacha Louisiana Open champion Wesley Bryan birdied the par-4 finishing hole for a first-round, 5-under 66. Bryan trailed by three strokes after 18 holes in Lafayette two weeks ago.
* Scoring averages for the week:
Front (35) Back (36) Total (71) R1 34.069 35.285 69.354