Peru census turns Lexus Peru Open into a 54-hole affair
October 18, 2017
By Laury Livsey, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Staff
- October 18, 2017
- Leandro Marelli will be one of several PGA TOUR Latinoamérica players who will be in Peru during next Sunday's census. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
LIMA, Peru—Casilda, Argentina, is a small city of 32,018 residents located on the west side of the country. Leandro Marelli, a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica player, calls Casilda home.
Come Sunday, though, Marelli will not only be an Argentina passport holder, he will be counted as a resident of Peru’s capital city, too.
So how exactly does an Argentinian become a statistical Peruvian?
In a unique situation, anybody physically in Peru beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday, October 22 will be counted as part of the country’s official population, all thanks to the Peruvian Statistical Office’s every-10-years census conducted by its merry band of people counters going door to door seeing who happens to be in town.
Count Marelli in.
While he tried to avoid the census, Marelli couldn’t get a flight out of town following the tournament. So he’ll hang around his rented apartment Sunday, his plan to read, watch TV and go to the gym. What he won’t be able to do is go outside—a mandatory immovability order issued by the government, preventing people from circulating on the streets. The police will be enforcing the nine-hour curfew, and only certain professions, such as medical personnel, have special permission to leave their homes. A perusal of the list of those granted exit-the-door exemptions did not include professional golfers.
Consequently, tournament officials reduced the Lexus Peru Open to 54 holes to accommodate the census leading to the Saturday night exodus.
“We are grateful to all the countries which host PGA TOUR Latinoamérica events, and we are mindful of the culture and customs of each country where we play,” said PGA TOUR Latinoamérica President Jack Warfield. “This is a unique situation in Peru, and shortening the Lexus Peru Open to 54 holes is a satisfactory result so that the census can take place. Being a good steward to the game and in the places where we play is always of the utmost importance to us.”
“I bought my (plane) ticket two months ago. When I read the email telling about the census, I tried to change my flight but couldn’t,” Marelli explained, giving a faint smile, knowing what to expect come Sunday. As he is forced to bide his time, he at least hopes to have a good finish at the Lexus Peru Open to look back on. And with play getting underway Thursday morning at Los Inkas Golf Club, Marelli isn’t changing his strategy despite the 54-hole format. “To me, it’s the same as a 72-hole event. Instead of four, I will try to have three good rounds this week. I think I will have to be extra aggressive on Saturday, and Saturday will be like Sunday.”
Gerardo Ruiz of Puebla, Mexico (population 3,000,123) admits he will change his strategy a bit, with 18 less holes to play this week. “Saturday instead of being moving day becomes the day to win,” Ruiz said as he stood on the practice green at Los Inkas. “You have one less round to be aggressive, so I think Saturday becomes a very aggressive day. I have done well coming from behind this year, so, honestly, I think this being a 54-hole tournament can help me, and I can benefit from it.”
Santiago Gavino, who played college golf at the University of Florida in Gainesville (population 127,488), is 200th on the Order of Merit and desperately needs a good finish this week to jumpstart his season. He’s only made one cut in 2017. Regardless of how he plays in the Lexus Peru Open, however, Saturday night Gavino is flying home to San Luis, Mexico (population 735,886), missing all the census excitement.
Same for American Eric Steger. Saturday night at 10:45, Steger, from Fishers, Indiana (population 76,794), will miss the census as he first flies to Buenos Aires, Argentina (population 2,890,151), catches a ferry to Montevideo, Uruguay (population 1,319,108) and hops on a bus to the Carrasco International Airport. There, tournament transportation will take him to his hotel. “I have a long day Sunday. But it saves $300 or $400 doing it that way,” he says, not gloating over the fact no waiting-for-the-census-to-end pacing in his hotel room will occur.
“Yeah, there will be a bit of a different vibe on Saturday,” said Steger, anticipating the unusual nature of the early finish. “If you get off to a quick start in the first round, that’s less time you have to screw up. If you can put two solid rounds together, you only have one more to play. But I won’t look at [the tournament] any differently. I want to make as many birdies as I can.
“If you talk to most everybody, they’re looking forward to this week,” Steger added. “The proximity of the hotel to the course is close, and the food is the best we see all year as is this golf course. You could play 36 holes and guys would still come this week.”
Uh, Eric, don’t be giving the government any additional ideas.
Then there’s Paul Apyan, a Canadian from London, Ontario (population 383,822), who calls Chattanooga, Tennessee (population 176,588), home. Apyan has been to Peru before, and he’s seen the snarling traffic for which this city is famous—or infamous, as it were. He knows the sheer size of the place and the number of people who live in Lima. Apyan doesn’t plan on being here when the census begins. He’ll be on his way to Uruguay like most of his fellow players.
For now, he can only wonder what the census might look like. “If I woke up on Sunday morning and there were no cars on the road, I would think the rapture had happened.”