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  • The First Look: São Paulo Golf Club Championship

    Nineteen of the top-20 players on the Order of Merit are scheduled to play this week

  • 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— For the second consecutive year, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica will resume its season after the summer break with the São Paulo Golf Club Championship. The ninth event of the 2019 season will mark the third of four stops that are part of the Bupa Challenge. The best player in this four-tournament, alternate competition will take home a check for $10,000 courtesy of Bupa Latin America.

    DATES: September 16-22, 2019
    OFFICIAL NAME: São Paulo Golf Club Championship
    HASHTAGS: #SPGCChampionship #Bupachallenge #PGATOURLA
    SCHEDULE: 9th of 16 official events on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica this season
    VENUE: São Paulo Golf Club – São Paulo, Brazil
    PAR/YARDS: 71 (35-36) / 6,574
    FIELD: 144 players from 23 countries – Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Guatemala, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain, Scotland, United States and Venezuela. 
    ORDER OF MERIT: Winner earns $31,500 from a $175,000 purse
    2018 CHAMPION: Nicolás Echavarría, Colombia (moved to the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019)
    FORMAT: 72-hole, stroke play
    CUT: Top-55 players and ties

    THE TOURNAMENT: The São Paulo Golf Club Championship is part of the official PGA TOUR Latinoamérica schedule for the second consecutive year. In its inaugural edition, Colombian Nicolás Echavarría completed a wire-to-wire victory. One year ago, the current Korn Ferry Tour member fired a 19-under 265 to defeat Argentina’s Augusto Núñez by one shot.

    In addition to his victory at the São Paulo Golf Club Championship, Echavarría went on to win again, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. At the end of the season, Echavarría finished in second place on the Order of Merit. His 2018 performance left him only $64 behind Order of Merit winner and Roberto De Vicenzo Award recipient Harry Higgs, a 2019-20 PGA TOUR rookie.

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    THE GOLF COURSE: São Paulo Golf Club measures 6,574 yards and is a par-71 (35-36).
    The golf course was designed by Stanley Thompson and Robert Trent Jones II. Located in the area of Santo Amaro, this venue was built in the late 19th century. Its fairways have hosted world golf stars such as Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Padraig Harrington and Roberto De Vicenzo.

    Between 2000 and 2001, the São Paulo Golf Club was the site of the European Tour’s São Paulo Brazil Open. Between 2013 and 2016, the course hosted the Brazil Champions, a Korn Ferry Tour tournament. Among that tournament’s winners was Chilean Benjamín Alvarado, a current PGA TOUR Latinoamérica player.

    In the 2018 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season, the São Paulo Golf Club was the sixth-most difficult course. It had an average score of 71.58 strokes. The course’s most-difficult hole is No. 9, a par-3, 167-yarder. Last year, the hole had an average score of 3.221 strokes, with only 40 birdies recorded throughout the week.

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

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

    SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON BEGINS: The São Paulo Golf Club Championship is the starting point of the second half of the season as players race to reach the Korn Ferry Tour. Beginning this week and ending in early December, this portion of the 2019 schedule will also include events in Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and the United States. As usual, the season ends at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Tour Championship, an event in Miami set for December 2-8, open to the top-60 on the Order of Merit leading into the event.

    PREMIER PARTNERS: As PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Premier Partners, Volvo Car Latin America, Hilton and Go Vacaciones are joining the event for the first time. In this exclusive category, these three partners are integrated into the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica messaging while telling the stories of its players, graduates, tournaments and its participation in the communities where the competitions take place.

    BUPA CHALLENGE: Like last year, the São Paulo Golf Club Championship will be part of the Bupa Challenge. After his victory at the Puerto Plata Open and his tie for 12th in the Buenaventura Classic, Chile’s Cristóbal Del Solar arrives at this third stop as the Bupa Challenge solo leader. Del Solar is currently No. 7 on the Order of Merit. He leads American Jared Wolfe by $3,850.

    In third place in the Bupa Challenge standings is another Chilean, Mito Pereira, who is, overall, No. 4 on the Order of Merit. Pereira tied for second place in Panama and tied the fifth in the Dominican Republic. American Scott Wolfes and Australian Ryan Ruffels round out the top five of the competition, with $18,900 and $14,047 in earnings, respectively.

    NOTES ON THE LIST OF COMPETITORS: Players by country: United States (55), Brazil (26), Argentina (22), Mexico (7), Chile (6), Colombia (4), Canada (3), Peru (3), Spain (2), South Africa (2), Venezuela (2), Australia (1), Bolivia (1), Cuba (1), England (1), Finland (1), France (1), Guatemala (1), Netherlands (1), Norway (1), Puerto Rico (1), Scotland (1) and Dominican Republic (1).

    American Tom Whitney will play in the São Paulo Golf Club Championship, the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit leader. After his victory in the 88th Abierto OSDE del Centro, the 30-year-old has added two top-10s and one top-25. During the summer break, Whitney entered into two Korn Ferry Tour events. In the Wichita Open, he missed the cut, and at the TPC Colorado Championship, in Fort Collins, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica alum Nelson Ledesma won the event, with Whitney tying for 55th place. Whitney is fourth in Stroke Average (69.29) and is second in the Par-4 Scoring Average (3.93).

    Although Jared Wolfe missed the cut in 2018, he will still be one of the favorites in this tournament. The American has been doing a remarkable season in which he won the Buenaventura Classic (he already has three victories as a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member) and two additional top-10s. Wolfe is second on the Order of Merit, just $8,845 behind Whitney. During the mid-year break, the graduate of Murray State University played on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada, recording three top-10s. He also became a father for the first time, his daughter, Khloe, born in early September.

    Although he has not yet won this year on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Augusto Núñez will continue to improve on his runner-up performance a year ago. At No. 3 on the Order of Merit, Núñez has picked up four top-10s in 2019. He has the second-best scoring average (69.00), trailing only Chilean Mito Pereira. Like Wolfe, Núñez, a native of Tucumán, stayed active during the mid-year break, winning two tournaments in Colombia. He captured the Colombian Open and the Abierto de El Rodeo of the Dev Series.

    In Playa del Carmen, Mexico, American Patrick Flavin became the second rookie to win this year on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. His Bupa Match Play performance allowed the 23-year-old to climb to ninth place on the Order of Merit as he continues to fight to earn of the five Korn Ferry Tour cards up for grabs this season.

    Order of Merit Standings

    Pos.

    Player

    Earnings (U.S.)

    2019 Season Notes

    1.

    Tom Whitney (U.S.)

    $49,455

    Abierto OSDE del Centro winner

    2.

    Jared Wolfe (U.S.)

    $41,370

    Buenaventura Classic winner

    3.

    Augusto Núñez (Argentina)

    $39,580

    BMW Jamaica Classic runner-up

    4.

    Mito Pereira (Chile)

    $39,029

    Four top-5s

    5.

    Ryan Ruffels (Australia)

    $38,557

    Molino Cañuelas Championship runner-up

    6.

    John Somers (U.S.)

    $37,800

    Abierto de Chile winner

    7.

    Cristóbal Del Solar (Chile)

    $37,666

    Puerto Plata Open winner

    8.

    Andreas Halvorsen (Norway)

    $33,898

    Top-3 at Molino Cañuelas Championship

    9.

    Patrick Flavin (U.S.)

    $32,430

    Bupa Match Play winner

    10.

    Alex Rocha (Brazil)

    $24,205

    Four top-10s

    Of the 26 Brazilians in the São Paulo Golf Club Championship field, Alexandre Rocha is the top player on the Order of Merit. Rocha is ranked 10th, with $35,296 in 2019 earnings. The 41-year-old will look at these two home-country tournaments as he looks to return to the Korn Ferry Tour. Rocha last played on that Tour in 2016. This season, the 2015 Aberto do Brasil winner, has made six cuts and has achieved four top-10s.

    Rodrigo Lee arrives at the São Paulo Golf Club Championship on the best run of his career. He’s No. 14 on the Order of Merit and ended the first part of the season as the runner-up of the Bupa Match Play, losing the championship match to Patrick Flavin. In his seventh season as a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member, the 31-year-old Brazilian has earned $25,751 and is the product of four made cuts. A year ago, Lee missed the cut.

    Rafa Becker returns to PGA TOUR Latinoamérica after playing on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he played eight events and only made three cuts. The local resumes his activity in the region and will do so from No. 24 of the Order of Merit. Before his trip to the United States, the former Aberto do Brasil champion has played four events this season. Becker earned top-10s in Panama and Cañuelas in Argentina. A year ago, at the São Paulo Golf Club Championship, he tied for ninth.