Hole-in-one helps Black to opening-round lead
November 07, 2019
By Communications, PGATOURLA.COM
- November 07, 2019
- Otto Black established a new season-best score with his opening 65 at the Neuquén Argentina Classic. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES, Argentina—First rounds have not been kind to Otto Black this season, as he had only broken par twice but never shot a round in the 60s. Thursday during the first round of the Neuquén Argentina Classic, the 14th event of the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season, Black did both of those things, firing a 7-under 65 to take the lead by one shot over Order of Merit leader Augusto Núñez and two shots on Chile’s Benjamin Alvarado.
Through 14 holes, Black wasn’t really doing anything special even though he felt he was hitting the ball and putting well. As he stepped to the sixth tee at Chapelco Golf Club, playing the nines in reverse, Black was 2-under after an adventuresome front nine that saw him make six birdies, two pars, a bogey and a double bogey. After five consecutive pars to start his closing nine, he birdied his 15th hole then stepped to the tee at the par-3 seventh, pulled out an 8-iron and drained the shot for the third hole-in-one of his life and first as a member of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. Black followed that eagle with a flourish, making two more birdies to complete his day.
“My first six holes were kind of up and down. I only had one par during that stretch,” said Black, whose 65 established a new career-low on this Tour. “I was hitting it really well and I was putting it great even though on those holes I was only 1-under. I was playing great, and I just tried to keep my mind in it to keep going with it.”
His final three birdie putts were from 12 feet, 20 feet and 25 feet, respectively, and on his hole-in-one, Black’s ball missed the green and landed on the fringe then trickled across the slope and into the cup.
“That gave me some momentum,” he added. “I just played well. I had been playing well all day, so I kept doing what I was doing.”View this post on Instagram
Otto Black 🇺🇸 tuvo un final de ensueño con birdie-hoyo en uno-birdie-birdie entre los hoyos 6 y 9 para hacer 65 (-7) en arranque del #NeuquenArgentinaClassic. What a finish! @otto_black 🇺🇸 had an unbelievable closing stretch, going birdie-hole in one-birdie-birdie between holes 6 and 9 to fire a 7-under 65 in the opening round of the @argentinaclassic. #ZurichArgentinaSwing 🇦🇷 • • #Volvo #Hilton #GoVacaciones
Núñez continues his assault on par each week. With his opening 66, he has enjoyed 15 consecutive under-par rounds, with 12 of those scores in the 60s. He is also in prime position to get to the weekend, something he’s done in all 12 previous stroke-play events in 2019.
Núñez avoided a big number on No. 2, a hole he described as key to his successful round. After hitting his drive into the pine trees, he was able to punch out, get on the green in three and make a 10-footer for par.
Six players are bunched at 4-under, three shots behind Black. They are Colombian Juan Pablo Luna, Americans Steven Fox and Patrick Flavin, Norway’s Andreas Halvorsen, Canadian Russell Budd and Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola.
Did you know Benjamin Alvarado was a second-team Ping All-American during his senior season in 2007? Others on that list included New Mexico’s Charlie Beljan, Florida State’s Jonas Blixt, Stanford’s Joseph Bramlett, Georgia Tech’s Roberto Castro and Cameron Tringale, UCLA’s Kevin Chappell, Alabama’s Michael Thompson and Georgia’s Brian Harman.
Otto Black established a new season-best score with his opening 65. Previously, he shot a 5-under 66 at the Sao Paulo Golf Club Open.
While he set a new career-low on this Tour with his 65, Otto Black previously had a 65 in the first round of the Mackenzie Investments Open on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada in 2017.
Coming into this week, Otto Black had been on a cold streak after making four consecutive cuts between the Puerto Plata Open and the Sao Paulo Golf Club Championship. Starting at the JHSF Aberto do Brasil in late-September, Black missed three consecutive cuts, breaking par only once.
Next week will be the one-year anniversary of Isidro Benitez’s win at the Argentine Open. His game appears to be rounding into form as he opened with a 3-under 69 Thursday. In his last two starts, he has a tie for 32nd at the Diners Club Peru Open and a 12th-place showing last week at the Termas de Rio Hondo Invitational. That represents his best finish of the season.
Ricardo Gonzalez joined Otto Black with a hole-in-one in the opening round. His came at the par-3 seventh, as well. He used a 9-iron. This was the 10th ace of Gonzalez’s career, all of them coming in tournaments.
In his last five starts since the resumption of play following the summer break, Augusto Núñez has finished second, tied for seventh, won, tied for 10th and tied for seventh.
There are 42 Argentines in this week’s field after 48 played last week in the Termas Rio de Hondo Invitational. Besides leader Augusto Núñez and Jaime Lopez Rivarola, others to break par were Ricardo Gonzalez (69), Tommy Cocha, Andres Gallegos, Jorge Fernandez-Valdes and Mauricio Molina (70) and Paulo Pinto, Tano Goya, Marcos Montenegro and Francisco Ojeda (71).
This is the second consecutive week where Jaime Lopez Rivarola has started well. A week ago at the Termas de Rio Hondo Invitational, Rivarola shot a first-round 67 and was tied for seventh through 18 holes. He shot a second-round 69 and a third-round 66, trailing 54-hole leader Camilo Aguado by a shot. He faded on the final day, firing a 3-over 75 to fall into a tie for 21st.
Justin Suh, with two consecutive top-fives to start his PGA TOUR Latinoamérica career struggled in the opening round. Suh shot a 5-over 77 and is tied for 111th. He had five bogeys and a double bogey.
Four amateurs are playing this week—all from Argentina. Juan Arozena shot a 6-over 78, while Lucas Zavala (82), Ernesto Vignaroli (84) and Santiago Caride (87) also struggled.
Shad Tuten watched his streak of 24 consecutive par-or-better rounds end with his opening 75 Thursday. Prior to Thursday, Tuten’s last non-par-or-better score was a 1-over 73 in the third round of the BMW Jamaica Classic in May. He will enter the second round tied for 95th.
“It wasn’t easy with the cold weather early. My ball-striking was pretty good right from the start, and I stayed loose all day.” –Augusto Núñez
“I went out to have fun on the course and had many birdie chances.” – Augusto Núñez
“It’s been really cold these practice days, but it warmed up. I’m really glad it warmed up today. The course is in great shape, and I really like the layout. Playing here last year, I’m very familiar with the course.” –Otto Black
“The last couple of weeks I’ve been missing cuts, but I’ve been hitting it well. I just didn’t quite score in spots, and a lot of the putts didn’t fall. Obviously today, the putts started to fall as I stayed patient.” –Otto Black
“I struck it nicely, maybe a couple of yards right of my target. But then it caught the slope and all of us, caddies and players, kept looking as it rolled 15 feet toward the hole. We saw it go in, and we all celebrated.” –Ricardo Gonzalez on his hole-in-one at No. 7
Tournament Fast Fact
A player from Argentina has won the Neuquén Argentina Classic every year but one since it made its debut on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica schedule in 2012. Spain’s Samuel Del Val won the 2016 event, a weather-shortened tournament. Tying for second, with Derek Gillespie, was Argentina’s Augusto Núñez.
First-Round Weather Report
Cold to start the morning. Warming as the day progressed. Sunny and pleasant in the afternoon. High of 76. Wind NW at 2 mph.