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  • BUPA CHALLENGE

    The First Look: 2017 Aberto do Brasil

    Closing out the inaugural edition of the Bupa Challenge, the Brazil National Open Championship makes its return to the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro

  • The Olympic Golf Course was the toughest course last season on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
    The Olympic Golf Course was the toughest course last season on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
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  • Rio de Janeiro, known as Brazil’s wonderful city – ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ – once again provides PGA TOUR Latinoamérica all its charm as host of the 64th playing of the Aberto do Brasil. The tournament will be played at the Gil Hanse designed Olympic Golf Course, where Great Britain’s Justin Rose claimed the gold medal at the Rio Games about 14 months ago.

    DATES: October 9-15, 2017
    OFFICIAL NAME: 64º Aberto do Brasil
    HASHTAGS: #AbertodoBrasil #BupaChallenge
    SCHEDULE: Thirteenth of 18 official events on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica this season
    BUPA CHALLENGE: Fourth and final event on this competition
    VENUE: Olympic Golf Course – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    PAR/YARDS: 71 (35-36) 7,128
    DEFENDING CHAMPION: Jorge Fernández Valdés (ARG)
    ORDER OF MERIT: Winner earns $31,500 dollars out of a $175,000 purse
    FIELD: 132 players from 15 countries
    CUT: Top-55 and ties

    THE TOURNAMENT: Celebrating its sixty-fourth edition and making its sixth consecutive appearance as a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event, the Aberto do Brasil is one of seven tournaments that have been on the Tour schedule every year since 2012. Organized by the Brazilian Golf Confederation (CBG in Portuguese), this prestigious National Open was established in 1945. The list of past champions includes legends such as Sam Snead, Billy Casper, Gary Player, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin and six-time champion Roberto De Vicenzo. Brazil’s own Mario Gonzalez is its winningest player with eight career titles claimed between 1946 and 1969.

    WINNERS DURING THE PGA TOUR LATINOAMÉRICA ERA: The following are the players who won the tournament since it joined the Tour schedule.

    2012 Clodomiro Carranza (ARG)* at Sao Fernando GC (Sao Paulo)
    2013 Ryan Blaum (USA)* at Gavea Golf & CC (Rio)
    2014 Rafael Becker (BRA) at Gavea Golf & CC (Rio)
    2015 Alexandre Rocha (BRA)* at Itahangá GC (Rio)
    2016 Jorge Fernández Valdés (ARG) at the Olympic GC (Rio)
    *Won in a playoff

    BUPA CHALLENGE FINALE: The 64th Aberto do Brasil will be the closing event of the Bupa Challenge, a competition that has featured three other Tour events in Guatemala, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. With just this event left to play, the Bupa Challenge lead is shared by Curtis Yonke and Tee-K Kelly of the United States. Yonke won the Quito Open in Ecuador, while Kelly claimed the Puerto Plata DR Open in the Dominican Republic. The opening event in Guatemala did not provide any official points because only 18 holes were played. Bupa Global, a leading provider of international health insurance worldwide, will reward the top-performing player across the Bupa Challenge events a cash prize of $10,000 dollars.

    THE GOLF COURSE: At 7,128 yards long and playing as a par 71, the Olympic Golf Course – Rio de Janeiro was created to challenge the world’s best golfers at the 2016 Rio Games, but it was also meant to serve the development of golf in Brazil. Built on a former sand quarry along saltwater marshes and lagoons near the Atlantic Ocean, this golf course in really unique within the region. Although it resembles the typical links courses, Gil Hanse’s inspiration to design it was drawn from the classic Sandbelt courses of Australia. Greens are slanted, with several hole locations demanding precise tee shots to set up an unobstructed approach. There is no rough, but there are several other challenges as the wind. Last year, at this same event, the scoring average of 74.97 strokes was the highest on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. The lowest round at that 63rd Aberto do Brasil was a 5-under 66 and it was recorded by five different players (Paul Apyan, José de Jesús Rodríguez, Guillermo Pereira, Marcelo Rozo, Gerardo Ruiz). Argentina’s Jorge Fernández Valdés won with a 72-hole total of 4-under 280.

    18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Marcus Fraser, Matt Kuchar (2016 Rio Olympic Games)

    72-HOLE RECORD: 268 (-16), Justin Rose (2016 Rio Olympic Games)

    FIELD: This event will feature 17 of the leading top-20 players on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit, including eight tournament winners this season... They are led by Mexico’s José de Jesús “El Camarón” Rodríguez, the only two-time winner this year. Rodríguez currently holds a $32,672-dollar lead as the Tour’s top-ranked player and is coming of four consecutive top-4’s (T2 at the BMW Jamaica Classic, 1st at the Abierto del Paraguay and T4 at both the Flor de Caña Open and the San Luis Championship). He also knows what to expect out of the Olympic Course, where he was tied for the 36-hole lead before a T8 finish at last year’s Aberto do Brasil... Among 22 players who were granted sponsor exemptions, current World Amateur Golf Ranking No. 1 Joaquín Niemann will be one to watch this week. The 18-year old from Chile was awarded the Mark H. McCormack Medal for finishing the amateur season as World No. 1 last August and is exempt to play both the 2018 U.S. Open and British Open if he remains an amateur.

    STORYLINES: Brazil natives Rafael Becker and Rodrigo Lee are the top local players to watch. They happen to be the only two PGA TOUR Latinoamérica members from Brazil. Becker, 26, enters the week ranked 47th in the Order of Merit, while Lee, 30, holds the 64th spot... Winner of this event in 2014, Becker is coming off a strong performance of 26-under that secured him runner-up honors last week at the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament First Stage event played in Lantana, Texas... There are 19 other players in this field who had a successful First Stage performance over the past couple of weeks in the U.S. That list includes Mexico’s Rodolfo Cazaubón, Colombia’s Ricardo Celia and Argentina’s Facundo Villanueva... Cazaubón, the 2015 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Player of the Year, will have many special memories to go back to as the only player in this field who played the Olympic Golf Tournament at the Rio Games last year. Cazaubón posted rounds of 76-66-68-73 to finish T30 at 1-under 283… A record of 14 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica graduates are playing the 2017-18 PGA TOUR season, seven of them played the Aberto do Brasil at least once over the past four years. They are Ryan Blaum (2013 champion), Bronson Burgoon (T9 in 2013), Tyler Duncan (T27 in 2014), Keith Mitchell (lost a seven-hole playoff in 2015), Adam Schenk (T14 in 2015), Nate Lashley (T5 in 2016, T25 in 2015) and Corey Conners (T2 in 2016)… The 64th Aberto do Brasil is the 91st official event ever sanctioned by PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.

    TELEVISION: Golf Channel Latin America will air a half hour highlight show on Monday night (October 16). Check your local cable listings for times in your country... Fox Sports 2 will also have a highlight show the following weekend... Next month, the tournament will be featured on “Esto es PGA TOUR Latinoamérica,” the Tour’s official TV shows, which airs on Golf Channel Latin America, ESPN Latin America, Claro Sports and Fox Sports 2 Latin America.

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