SÃO PAULO, Brazil—American Chandler Blanchet had a long day of golf, finishing his second round early Saturday morning after a 3:30 wake-up call. He played his final nine holes of the round by putting the final touches on a 10-under 61, with three consecutive birdies to finish. He then went out and shot a 4-under 67 in his third round, and that was enough to give him a one-shot lead over Argentina’s Augusto Núñez as they had to the final round of the São Paulo Golf Club Championship.
Blanchet (pronounced BLON-chay) is looking for his first title, and the three consecutive sub-70 rounds he’s posted this week have certainly put him in position. He looked like he would hold a two-shot advantage with 18 holes to play after hitting No. 18 in regulation, but a three-putt bogey dropped him back a shot.
Blanchet, who played college golf at the University of West Florida, graduating in 2018, pointed to the par-3 seventh hole as a key moment in his third round. He hit his tee shot to three feet—below the hole—and drained the putt. He promptly birdied No. 8 after that, establishing momentum on a much cooler day than the players experienced in the first and second rounds.
Núñez, meanwhile, continued his steady play, making six birdies against two bogeys for his 67. He has not won on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica since the 2016 Flor de Caña Open in Nicaragua. He played on the Korn Ferry Tour in both 2017 and 2018 but took a leave of absence from the game to tend to his wife, who had a difficult pregnancy. He’s back in form as he attempts to return to the Korn Ferry Tour for his third season on that circuit.
Also in the top five are Americans Dalan Refioglu and Michael Buttacavoli, and Argentina’s Jorge Fernández-Valdés. Refioglu is third after his third consecutive round in the 60s, a 5-under 66. Fernández-Valdés is fourth, trailing by four, and Buttacavoli, making his 2019 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica debut after playing this season on the Korn Ferry Tour, shot his second 67 of the tournament and is alone in fifth, five shots back.
Did you know Chandler Blanchet earned his PGA TOUR Latinoamérica playing privileges by tying for second at the U.S. Qualifying Tournament at Mission Inn Resort and Club in Florida in mid-January. He had four par-or-better rounds to tie with Dawson Armstrong, a stroke behind winner Neal Ajubita.
• The cut came early Saturday morning following the completion of the second round. Sixty-seven players at 3-under made the cut.
• Chandler Blanchet has played in every tournament this season, making five cuts and missing three. His best stroke-play finish came in the season-opener, the Buenaventura Classic, where he tied for 24th. He also qualified for the Bupa Match Play but lost his opening-round match.
• The second-round 61 Chandler Blanchet shot easily established a new career-low for the Pensacola, Fla., native. Previously, his best 18-hole score were the 68s he shot in the Buenaventura Classic (final round) and in the Abierto Mexican de Golf (third round).
• This season, Michael Buttacavoli played in 15 Korn Ferry Tour tournaments, making four cuts. His best outing was a tie for 30th at the Savannah Golf Championship in late-March. In his career, Buttacavoli has made 24 Korn Ferry Tour starts.
• Five Brazilians made the cut, led by Alex Rocha and Felipe Navarro, who are both tied for 19th through 54 holes. The others to make the cut were Herik Machado (tied for 30th), Axell Gustavo Balestre (tied for 49th) and Rafael Becker (tied for 53rd).
• Order of Merit leader Tom Whitney has shot scores of 69-70-71 and is tied for 49th at 3-under, with 18 holes to play.
“I went to the gym then came out here. I started on the back nine and got off to a pretty good start, with seven birdies on that nine. It was a good way to end the second round.” –Chandler Blanchet
“It got a little windier out there. There were a couple of better pins and it was a bit softer. I hit the same shots and hit them well. I got a little tired on the back nine but finished well.” –Chandler Blanchet
“I’m just sticking with the game plan and doing what’s working. I’ll keep hitting those shots, keep going and go for the targets.” –Chandler Blanchet on his final-round strategy
“It was a very smooth day. I didn’t make any mistakes, which was nice. There were some tough flags, and there were a couple of holes where you could attack. But there were also some holes where par and the middle of the green is doing your job.” –Dalan Refioglu
“Conditions today were more difficult in the fact it was much cooler today, almost 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler. –Dalan Refioglu
“My course management was really good. I’m keeping the ball in front of me and attacking with wedges and irons.” –Dalan Refioglu
“I don’t feel any pressure. It’s part of what we do. We want to be in contention. We want to see what’s going on. I know there are some good rounds out here. Being in the last group, it’s nice knowing where people are and what’s going on.” –Dalan Refioglu
Third-Round Weather Report
Mostly cloudy and cool. High of 61. The second round resumed at 6:40 a.m. Wind ESE at 10 mph.