Quick start puts Lange atop leaderboard in Argentina
November 14, 2019
By Communications, PGATOURLA.COM
- November 14, 2019
- Victor Lange during the opening round of the 114th VISA Open de Argentina presented by Macro at the Jockey Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Victor Lange has had an OK year. Nothing special. He tied for fifth at the Molino Cañuelas Championship, but he has also missed six cuts in 12 starts. He is 66th on the Order of Merit, which, if the season ended today, would leave him outside the top 60 an ineligible for the season-ending Shell Championship. After Thursday’s opening round, the South African looks like he wants to make a move. Playing in the 114th edition of the Visa Open de Argentina presented by Macro, Lange began the tournament by making four consecutive birdies then added four more and a bogey to shoot a 7-under 63. That is good enough to give him a two-shot lead heading into the second round. Americans Jared Wolfe and Jonathan Garrick both shot 65s and are tied for second.
“It was a very nice day. There’s a lot of history here, and to start with a 63 is incredible,” Lange said of his tour around the Jockey Club. For a brief second, Lange, a native of Johannesburg, thought he had shot a 62 as he faced a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 9, his final hole of the day. “I hit it absolutely perfect, I thought, and it just missed.”
In each of his last three starts, Lange has opened with a 71, missing the cut in two of those tournaments. “It’s really nice to start well. Most of my rounds recently have been under par. They just haven’t been very low. Honestly, I’ve been feeling like I was due for a round like today.”
His 63 is also a record-breaker. The previous opening-round record in this event was 64 set by four Argentines, most recently Augusto Núñez turning the trick in 2017, also at the Jockey Club.
After a bogey at his 15th hole, Lange bounced back with a birdie on the next hole. Lange hit an 8-iron from about 150 yards for a tap-in birdie. “I hit it absolutely beautifully. That was right after a bogey. It was nice to bounce back like that, and I think that was maybe the best shot of the day with the finish and getting the momentum down the stretch,” he said. “I hit quite a few very close from 150 yards. There were three different ones that I hit to about two feet.”
After 13 holes, Wolfe was stuck in neutral, at even-par. He then went to work. The ninth-ranked player on the Order of Merit proceeded to birdie his next three holes, “somehow got up and down” on the difficult, par-3 17th then drove the par-4 18th to tap-in range for eagle.
“It was kind of a pretty boring day up until then,” said Wolfe of his 5-under-in-five-hole finish. “I was just cruising along and staying patient. Then out of nowhere, I’m 3-under, I make a ridiculous up and down on one of the most difficult par-3s in the world and then I hit my drive on 18 to three feet. It was complete luck that it landed that close, but I’m happy that it happened.”
Garrick matched Wolfe, although his round didn’t have quite the sizzle of Wolfe’s. Instead, Garrick, who finished 10th on the Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit, made six birdies against only one bogey. He got off to a quick start on his first Tour of the Jockey Club and clearly liked what he saw.
“It’s a fairly short course, but the pins are tricky. If you’re in control of your ball, you can have birdie opportunities. If not, it can get away from you pretty quick,” said Garrick, a Chicago native in his third year as a pro. “I really wasn’t out of position very often.
Did you know Jonathan Garrick played an entire year on the 2019 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, finishing 10th on the Order of Merit? He was one of three players who played together at UCLA to go on and earn 2020 Korn Ferry Tour status via the Mackenzie Tour. The others were Jake Knapp and Lorens Chan.
Amateur Abel Gallegos is currently the 478th-ranked amateur in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. It is his career-high spot in the WAGR. The 17-year old had eight birdies, two bogeys, a double bogey and seven pars.
Jonathan Garrick’s only previous PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start this season came at the Banco del Pacífico Open, where he tied for 29th. Garrick made three starts in 2018 but only made one cut.
This season on the Mackenzie Tour, Jonathan Garrick played in all 12 tournaments, making eight cuts and coming close twice, settling for a pair of runner-up finishes—at the Golf BC Championship and the Windsor Championship. Garrick has a runner-up finish in Canada in each of the last three years.
A week after shooting back-to-back 74s to miss the cut at the Neuquén Argentina Classic, Finland’s Toni Hakula opened with a 3-under 67. Hakula picked up his ninth eagle of the season when he made a 2 at the par-4 fifth hole. Earlier this year, Hakula made golf history when he made back-to-back-to-back eagles at the Abierto de Chile. Ryan Ruffels lead the Tour this season. He has 15 eagles.
A quartet of PGA TOUR veterans are playing in their national open this week: Andrés Romero opened with a 2-over 72, Julián Etulain shot a 74, José Cóceres fired an 80 and Eduardo Romero shot an 81.
There are 51 Argentines playing this week. Amateur Abel Gallegos posted the lowest start, with his 4-under 66. Of the professionals, Rafael Echenique had the best day. He’s at 2-under and tied for 10th. Order of Merit leader Augusto Núñez got to 3-under before a late double bogey—on No. 17—dropped him to 1-under. A player from Argentina has won each of the last four PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournaments.
Korn Ferry Tour veteran Michael McGowan is playing in his second PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournament this season. He previously missed the cut at the Diners Club Peru Open. McGowan finished No. 158 on the Korn Ferry Tour’s Regular Season points list, with a tie for 23rd his best performance. McGowan opened his week at the Jockey Club with a 2-under 68.
Argentina’s Puma Domínguez, winner of last week’s Neuquén Argentina Classic, Opened with even-par 70 Thursday. Tom Whitney, who lost to Domínguez in the playoff and is No. 2 on the Order of Merit, began the tournament with a 2-under 68 to sit in a tie for 10th.
Defending champion Isidro Benítez began the week with a 1-over 71. He is tied for 49th.
The only first-round leader to convert his advantage into a victory is Jared Wolfe, who led wire to wire in Panama, at the Buenaventura Classic.
Kent Bulle, winner of this event in back-to-back years, starting in 2015, is making his season debut and his first PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start since his playoff win in 2016. That year, Bulle defeated Jimmy Beck and Nate Lashley in a playoff. Bulle opened his tournament with a 1-under 69.
“From there, I just trusted my game and really didn’t think too much about things. I just played my own game, and, 63.” –Victor Lange after he opened his day birdie-birdie
“I felt I got off to a good start when there wasn’t much wind. I was able to continue that playing the back nine.” –Jonathan Garrick
“All the events we play on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica are fantastic. But, obviously, this is the last (full-field) one, and if you win this week you get a spot in The Open. It’s my favorite major, and it would be extremely special to play in that if it came down to that. Playing at the Jockey Club, with all its history, makes it special, as well.” –Victor Lange
“You pull up a game plan and you try to execute that game plan as well as you can. It doesn’t matter what day it is. I didn’t really put any extra pressure on myself. I just played really well today.” –Victor Lange
“It’s fun to play this course. It tests every part of your game, especially mentally.” –Jonathan Garrick
“I took a couple of weeks off. I didn’t practice much for a month or so, and I’ve just started getting back into it about a month ago. It’s important to come down and play in an event like this, especially since the golf course is Bermuda and the final stage is in Florida.” –Jonathan Garrick on the end of his Mackenzie Tour season and his plan for the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament
“This morning it was really nice. It wasn’t hot yet and the wind was down. The greens were a little receptive. You were able to control some shots, and the greens were rolling perfectly. I started out birdieing the first hole.” –Jared Wolfe
“Any time you can get into the red quickly on this golf course, the better because it is a long day.” –Jared Wolfe
“After playing in 2017, I remember that week I came in not hitting it well at all, but I was putting and chipping well. If you can get around this place putting well, if you hit it OK you have a chance to win. If you hit it well and putt, you, obviously, have a very good chance.” –Jared Wolfe
“There are a lot of holes that seem easy that you can make bogey on. There are a lot of holes that seem hard that you can make some birdies on and gain a couple of strokes on the field.” –Jared Wolfe
“I’m staying patient because I know the scores are not going to be extremely low for the week. This golf course only gets harder every day. As the wind picks up and the greens get firmer and faster, it’s four days of really good golf and one hole or one round isn’t going to determine how the tournament goes for you.” –Jared Wolfe
Tournament Fast Fact
The last time a player from Argentina has won this event came in 2014, when Emiliano Grillo defeated Brad Hopfinger at Martindale Country Club.