Pereira, Black share lead at halfway point
November 08, 2019
By Communications, PGATOURLA.COM
- November 08, 2019
- Chile's Mito Pereira carded nine birdies on Friday to match the course record at Chapelco Golf Club. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES, Argentina—After opening the tournament with a 7-under 65, Otto Black had another solid day, shooting a 4-under 68 to join Chile’s Mito Pereira atop the leaderboard at the halfway juncture of the Neuquén Argentina Classic. They lead a trio of players—Jason Thresher, Andrés Gallegos and Gustavo Silva—by a healthy three strokes. An additional seven players are tied for sixth, four strokes behind.
While Black was steady, it was Pereira who stole the show under almost windless, pleasant conditions at Chapelco Golf Club. The 2016 Roberto De Vicenzo Punta del Este Open winner had the low round of the tournament with his 9-under 63. Playing the back nine first, he opened and closed with birdies and added additional birdies at Nos. 13 and 17. He made it three birdies in a row when he birdied his 10th hole, No. 1. He had one more three-in-a-row birdie stretch, beginning at No. 6. Pereira’s previous-low round this season was a 65, and the 63 matches his career-low, coming in the final round of his lone PGA TOUR Latinoamérica triumph in 2016.
The only downer to the day—and Pereira isn’t quibbling—is he missed a 10-foot birdie putt on his final hole that would have secured a 62. “But I holed some others, so it’s OK,” he said.
“I was very solid on the greens, and I made some very good putts today. That was the key,” Pereira explained. “I think today was all about the greens. I hit good shots with my irons, and I didn’t get in very much trouble.”
Black didn’t get off to a quick start to his second round, starting par-bogey-par-par-par. He then eagled No. 6, and he was off and running again. “[The eagle] kind of started things off and got things going,” he said of his second-shot, 9-iron approach he hit to three feet on the par-5 sixth for the relatively simple eagle. “I was pretty consistent from 10 to 13 where I made a couple of birdies. I putted well and kept giving myself (birdie) looks.”
Did you know Otto Black in the summer of 2016 teamed with Colin Joseph and advanced to the semi-finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club’s East Course in New York? The duo of Black and Joseph lost 1-down to the team of Brandon Cigna and Ben Warnquist.
The cut came at 2-under 142, with 58 professionals from 15 countries making it to the weekend.
For the fourth time in 2019, the leader—in this case, leaders—have a lead of three strokes or more through 36 holes. The largest halfway-point lead this season came courtesy of Paulo Pinto, who held a six-shot bulge at the Abierto OSDE del Centro. Clodomiro Carranza (four strokes at the Banco del Pacífico Open) and Jared Wolfe (three strokes at the Buenaventura Classic) are the others. Only Wolfe from that group parlayed his lead into a win.
This is the fourth of five events in the Zurich Argentina Swing that rewards the player who earns the most money in the five Argentina tournaments with a U.S. $10,000 bonus. Currently, American Tom Whitney leads the chase, with Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti second. Whitney is at 2-under heading into the weekend and tied for 44th, while Tosti looks to close the gap. He’s tied for 34th, sitting at 3-under.
Defending champion Clodomiro Carranza made the cut on the number, opening with scores of 72-70. He’s at 2-under and tied for 44th with 36 holes to play.
Clodomiro Carranza has played in this tournament every year since it became part of the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica schedule. He has never missed the cut, and he’s never finished outside the top 20. His worst finish is a tie for 19th in 2015—the last time before this week that he had back-to-back rounds in the 70s (72-72).
Next week will be the one-year anniversary of Isidro Benitez’s win at the Argentine Open. His game continues to round into shape as he heads to the weekend tied for 19th, at 5-under. Benitez added a 2-under 70 to his opening 69. 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.
There are 42 Argentines in this week’s field after 48 played last week in the Termas Rio de Hondo Invitational. Thirteen made the cut, led by Andrés Gallegos, who is tied for third. Ignacio Marino, Tommy Cocha, Jorge Fernández Valdés and Puma Domínguez (all tied for sixth), Augusto Núñez and Ricardo Gonzalez (tied for 13th), Jaime López Rivarola and Tano Goya (tied for 19th), Paulo Pinto (tied for 27th), Alejandro Tosti (tied for 34th) and Clodomiro Carranza and Marcos Montenegro (tied for 44th) are the others.
Justin Suh had a remarkable turnaround after struggling Thursday with an opening-round 77. The former USC Trojan was able to make the cut, on the number, thanks to a second-round 65. Suh has had two consecutive top-fives to start his PGA TOUR Latinoamérica career. He had six birdies to go with an eagle and a bogey Friday, helping with the 12-shot improvement.
Ricardo Gonzalez easily made the cut with his opening 69-69 start. This is his 16th career PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start for the former World Cup player who twice represented Argentina in that event (2005 and 2007). This is Gonzalez’s fifth start this season, a career-high. He has yet to miss a cut in 2019, his best finish a tie for 16th at the Abierto de Chile presentado por Volvo in April.
It has been a slow beginning to Luis Fernando Barco’s professional career. Of his 13 starts, his best finish is a tie for 13th at the Puerto Plata Open. He also tied for 17th at the Bupa Match Play, losing in the second round. Barco is tied for sixth on the strength of his 69-68 start.Otto Black during the second round of the 2019 Neuquén Argentina Classic at Chapelco Golf Club on Friday. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
“I was just trying to shoot as low as I could today and see whatever happens.” –Otto Black
“The weather was perfect. You couldn’t ask for anything better.” –Otto Black
“Everything else was pretty consistent and steady throughout the day.” –Otto Black
“The difference from [Thursday] to today? The truth is there is not much difference. It’s a couple of putts. [Thursday] I think I made three bogeys, and that took away the momentum, but I'm playing really well on the greens, and that gives me confidence for the weekend.” –Mito Pereira
“It's been my mantra: go fishing and play. [Fishing] relaxes me. I can disconnect, I can completely forget at least for a couple of hours that I am a golfer.” –Mito Pereira
“How many times did I go fishing this week? Three. And today, maybe four.” –Mito Pereira
“Since last year I was bitten by the fishing bug, and being here is awesome. It’s a great place for fishing. It is a disconnection. One is I spend all day thinking about golf and playing golf, and I think not thinking about golf is very good for the mind.” –Mito Pereira
“There are a lot of good players out here, so I have to control what I can do and go from there.” –Otto Black
“It was a really solid round. I was never really in trouble off the tee.” –Jason Thresher
“There’s been no wind, and hopefully it stays like that for the next couple of days.” – Jason Thresher
“[Thursday] and today the conditions have been awesome. The wind, when it blew, was maybe five miles per hour, so I didn’t really try to factor it in too much.” –Jason Thresher
Tournament Fast Fact
Clodomiro Carranza played in the first edition of this tournament, called the Olivos Golf Classic-Copa Personal, in 2012, tying for second with José Cóceres, two strokes behind winner Ariel Cañete. A year ago, Carranza was finally able to win the tournament, coasting to a three-shot win over Andrés Gallegos.
Second-Round Weather Report
Cool in the morning and pleasant and warmer in the afternoon. High of 78. Wind E at 5 mph.