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  • The First Look: São Paulo Golf Club Championship

    This week, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica will sanction its second event in São Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil

  • São Paulo Golf Club measures 6,574 yards and was designed by Stanley Thompson and Robert Trend Jones II. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
    São Paulo Golf Club measures 6,574 yards and was designed by Stanley Thompson and Robert Trend Jones II. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
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  • SÃO PAULO, Brazil—After the usual mid-season break, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica is ready to resume the season, starting with the São Paulo Golf Club Championship. The 10th event of 2018 will also mark the fourth of five legs of the Bupa Challenge, a competition that will reward the player who earns the most money in these tournaments with a U.S. $10,000 bonus.

    DATES: September 10-16, 2018
    OFFICIAL NAME: São Paulo Golf Club Championship
    HASHTAGS: #SPGCChampionship #BupaChallenge
    SCHEDULE: 10th of 17 official events on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica this season
    VENUE: São Paulo Golf Club – São Paulo, Brazil
    ORDER OF MERIT: Winner earns $31,500 from a $175,000 purse
    CUT: Top-55 players and ties

    THE TOURNAMENT: The São Paulo Golf Club Championship is a new event that brings the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica for the second time to São Paulo, Brazil. For this inaugural edition, the nine champions who won in the first half of the season have confirmed their participation.

    THE CITY: With more than 22 million inhabitants (metropolitan area), São Paulo is the most-populated city in Latin America. It is the financial center of Brazil and what many consider the most conducive place to do business in the entire region. The city is also considered a favorite by tourists from around the world. The year the Ministry of Tourism estimates that 11.5 million people will visit the city.

    The weather of São Paulo is considered subtropical, with an average annual temperature of 19 degrees Celsius. The hottest month is February, with an average temperature of 22, while July is considered the coldest month, at an average of 16. Located near the sea, coastal winds are a constant in the city, causing increased humidity levels in the metropolitan area.

    THE GOLF COURSE: São Paulo Golf Club measures 6,574 yards and is a par-71 (35-36).
    Located in Santo Amaro, the São Paulo Golf Club was designed by Stanley Thompson and redesigned by Robert Trent Jones II. Built toward the end of the 19th century, this is the oldest golf club in Brazil. Numerous legends of the game have played on the course, including World Golf Hall of Fame members Roberto De Vicenzo, Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.

    Between 2000 and 2001, São Paulo Golf Club was the host of the European Tour’s São Paulo Brazil Open. From 2013 to 2016, the club hosted the Web.com Tour’s Brasil Champions.

    72-HOLE RECORD: 259, Jon Curran, U.S. (2014)

    18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Jon Curran, U.S. (2014)

    SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON BEGINS: This marks the start of the second half of the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season, which will include eight tournaments in six countries. The São Paulo Golf Club Championship is the 10th of 17 tournaments that make up the 2018 season. Starting this week and concluding at the beginning of December, this portion of the schedule will also include events in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Argentina and the United States. The race to move up to the Web.com Tour in 2019 will culminate with the Tour Championship, an event that will be held in Florida November 29 to December 2, with only the top-60 of the Order of Merit invited to play.

    BUPA CHALLENGE: The second season of the Bupa Challenge resumes this week at the São Paulo Golf Club Championship. American Ben Polland arrives at this fourth stop of the Bupa Challenge as the solo leader of the competition. His victory at the Guatemala Stella Artois Open, plus two additional top-10s—at the Quito Open and the Puerto Plata DR Open—has allowed the 27-year-old to accumulate earnings of $36,400. The player with the most money made in Bupa Challenge-designated events earns a U.S. $10,000 bonus.

    While Polland, currently No. 7 on the Order of Merit, leads the Bupa Challenge, Chilean Horacio León and Argentine Andres Gallegos are close enough to add a touch of suspense to this final portion of the competition that will end next week, also in Brazil.

    Here are the top-five players in the Bupa Challenge standings:

    Rank

    Player

    Earnings

    1

    Ben Polland, U.S.

    $36,400

    2

    Horacio León, Chile

    $33,200

    3

    Andrés Gallegos, Argentina

    $31,500

    4

    Matt Gilchrest, U.S.

    $27,300

    5

    Skyler Finnell, U.S.

    $21,223

    FIELD WATCH: American Tyson Alexander will play his fourth tournament as No. 1 player on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit, a position he achieved when he won the Costa Rica Classic in a playoff. Taking advantage of the mid-year break, the 30-year-old played for the first time in a non-major PGA TOUR event. With rounds of 71-71 he failed to make the cut at the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky. In his second season as a member of the Tour, the graduate of the University of Florida has played in eight of the nine events played in the season’s first half. Alexander didn’t play in Ecuador. Besides his win in Costa Rica, at Reserva Conchal, Alexander added top-10s in Córdoba, Argentina, and Jamaica. Alexander leads the Tour with earnings of U.S. $58,738 and starts the week with an advantage of $3,192 over American Matt Gilchrest, who has not yet won his first professional title but holds down the No. 2 position. .... Argentina rookie Andrés Gallegos will also play this week, at the São Paulo Golf Club Championship. The 23-year-old has had a remarkable season, highlighted by his six-stroke victory in the Puerto Plata DR Open. He’s also had a top-10 in Cañuelas, Argentina. .... In addition to Alexander and Gallegos in the field, the other seven champions of 2018 will also be playing: Austin Smotherman (winner of the 59th Abierto Mexicano de Golf, and No. 5 on the Order of Merit). Smotherman has earnings of $46,264 and failed to make the cut at only one event this season, the Guatemala Stella Artois Open.

    STORYLINES: Among the local players who will compete this week are Rafa Becker, Alexandre Rocha and Rodrigo Lee. Becker is a past champion, at the 2014 Aberto do Brasil. Rocha, winner of the 2015 Aberto do Brasil and former PGA TOUR member, has enjoyed top-10s in Mexico and Argentina. Lee, 30, played his best in Cordoba, Argentina, and Costa Rica, both sites of top-10s. ... Chile’s Benjamín Alvarado returns to a golf course that brings him good memories. In 2013, Alvarado won the Web.com Tour’s Brasil Classic. He fired a 19-under par 265 that played a major role in helping him earn his 2014 PGA TOUR card.

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