Kristoffer Ventura claims second-round lead at Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Chevrolet
July 19, 2019
By Staff , PGATOUR.COM
- July 19, 2019
- Kristoffer Ventura recorded a bogey-free 64 on Friday. (Korn Ferry Tour)
Second Round Leaderboard
67-64 – 131 (-11)
66-66 – 132 (-10)
66-67 – 133 (-9)
Three players tied
Omaha, Neb. — Kristoffer Ventura used a bogey-free 64 on Friday to take the lead at the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Chevrolet at 11-under 131. Tyson Alexander sits one shot off the pace at 10-under 132.
Beginning his day on the back nine, Ventura got off to a hot start with birdies on each of his first three holes. The 24-year-old added birdies on Nos. 15, 4 and 5 to reach 10-under for the week. On his final hole of the day, the par-4 ninth, Ventura nearly holed his second shot for eagle, but settled for a birdie to claim the solo lead.
“I played pretty solid golf, no bogeys, which is always good,” Ventura said. “I’m really pleased with how I’m hitting it. I missed a couple short putts, but I stayed patient. Overall it was good. The conditions were tough, and the course is awesome and demanding. I’m really happy with what I did today.”
Ventura is making only his seventh Korn Ferry Tour start of the season this week. Earlier this year, he made the most of a sponsor exemption at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, where he finished in a tie for third. The result secured his status on the Korn Ferry Tour and allowed him to set his schedule for the remainder of the season.
“I was doubting myself for a while,” he said. “Doing the Monday [qualifiers], that’s no fun. You don’t want to wish that on anyone. After I got a tie for third, I was able to plan my schedule and that was huge.”
Three weeks after his tie for third, Ventura earned his first Korn Ferry Tour title at the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank. The former Oklahoma State University standout outlasted Joshua Creel and clinched the victory on the third playoff hole. After the win, Ventura vaulted up The 25 and could soon set his sights on a PGA TOUR card.
“Obviously to win a few weeks ago was unbelievable,” recalled Ventura, who is currently No. 22 in The 25. “Now instead of chasing the top 75, I’m chasing The 25. Right now, I don’t want to think about it too much and I don’t look at the scoreboards or the projections. I have four tournaments left and I’m going to do my best.”
But Ventura’s success this season did not come without a price.
Late last year, he had to have his appendix removed in the weeks leading up to the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. The operation prevented him from practicing until the Monday of tournament week, limiting his performance on the course. After finishing T129, Ventura had no guaranteed starts for the 2019 season.
“I played but obviously I hadn’t even practiced or anything,” he said. “So that was tough. But looking back on it now, it’s all good. I got a sponsor exemption into the Valero Texas Open on the PGA TOUR and I made the cut and played well. I knew that my game was good enough.”
Despite the setback, Ventura battled his way back and now has a chance to secure a spot on the PGA TOUR for the 2019-20 season.
Alone in second place is Alexander, who fired a second-consecutive 66 on Friday. The 31-year-old caught fire on his opening nine, recording three birdies and an eagle. He carded two birdies against two bogeys on his second nine to finish his round at 5-under.
Alexander currently ranks 88th in The 25 and has recorded a top-25 finish in each of his last four Korn Ferry Tour starts. Last season, the University of Florida product revamped his career on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, where he made the cut in all 16 of his starts. He added a win at the Costa Rica Classic, a tie for second and 12 top-25 finishes in 2018. Alexander now draws on that experience as he chases a spot in The 25.
PGA TOUR Latinoamérica “definitely gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “I traveled the world quite a bit and got a win. I don’t think I missed a cut last year and I played pretty consistent. I would say that’s a big part of my success this year.”
Chad Ramey is alone in third place after carding a 4-under 67 on Friday. Andres Gonzales, Byron Meth and John Oda all sit T4, three strokes off the lead.
* Friday’s weather: Sunny, high of 98 with a heat index of 115, winds S 12-18 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.
* The cut came at even-par, with 68 players making it to the weekend.
* 36-hole leader Kristoffer Ventura and Zach Wright, who is T13, both carded a 7-under 64, the low rounds of the day.
* Only four out of 20 36-hole leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win the tournament this year, though Nelson Ledesma accomplished the feat last week at the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes.
* First-round leader Byron Meth is in a tie for fourth after carding a 1-under 70 on Friday. At 8- under 134, he is three shots back of leader Kristoffer Ventura.
* Xinjun Zhang (6-over) and Robby Shelton (12-over), Nos. 1 and 2 on The 25, respectively, both missed the cut. Last week’s winner, Nelson Ledesma, No. 4 on the points list, also missed the cut, at 5 over.
* Five Monday qualifiers advanced to the weekend, led by Denzel Ieremia, who is T18 at 4- under 138.
* Omaha, Neb., native Scott Gutschewski sits in a tie for seventh after a second-round 65, highlighted by a front-nine 32 that saw him card five birdies in a six-hole stretch. Gutschewski finished in a tie for second at the inaugural Pinnacle Bank Championship in 2017.
* Norfolk, Neb., native Luke Kluver got up-and-down for par on the final hole to make the cut at even-par. The amateur has carded a pair of 71s to begin his tournament.
* This week's purse is $600,000, with $108,000 going to the champion. The winner will also receive 500 Korn Ferry Tour points.
* 47 Korn Ferry Tour winners are in the field this week, combining for 70 victories.
* The par-4 ninth hole (478 yards) ranked as the toughest hole on the course Friday, playing to an average of .464 strokes over par.
* The par-5 15th hole (573 yards) ranked as the easiest hole on Thursday. The hole played to an average of 4.662 and yielded one eagle and 63 birdies.
*The Club at Indian Creek Scoring Average:
Front Back Total Cumulative R1 36.436 35.327 71.763 R2 36.285 35.132 71.417 71.590