Texas natives Paolucci, Loya tied for the halfway lead in Mexico
January 15, 2020
By Greg Villalobos, PGATOURLA.COM
- January 15, 2020
- Paolucci followed his opening 64 with a 68 to remain in a tie for the lead at Estrella del Mar. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
MAZATLÁN, Mexico—Jacob Loya of El Paso, Texas, fired a low-of-the-day, 7-under 65 late in the afternoon to join Anthony Paolucci of Dallas, who posted a 4-under 68 earlier in the day, in a tie for the lead halfway through the 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament Mexico. Loya and Paolucci moved to 12-under 132, one stroke ahead of Brendon Doyle of Louisville, Ky. He carded a 69, while Josh Seiple of Castle Rock, Colo., shot 68 to trail by two. Aaron Whalen of Scottsdale, Ariz., 69, and Canadian Jared Du Toit (68) are tied for fifth, at 9-under.
Teeing off on No. 1 at 7:50 a.m., Paolucci kept his solid pace with a birdie-birdie start before three-putting for bogey on No. 3. After two pars, he picked up the pace again by hitting a 130-yard pitching-wedge approach to within four feet at the par-3 sixth. That was the first of four birdies in a span of five holes (Nos. 6, 7, 9 and 10).
“I made about a 20-footer (on 10) for a birdie that was kind of a bonus. (I was) just hitting a lot of greens, and the putter was feeling pretty good too,” he said about a stretch that moved him to 13-under for the tournament.
With a chance to open some room at the top, Paolucci went bogey-bogey on Nos. 13 and 14. “I hit a poor shot on 13 and didn’t get up and down from the right bunker, and then I three-putted 14 but bounced back with good pars on 15 and 16,” said Paolucci, who closed his day by making a birdie at No. 18. and then I birdied 18. The 27-year old is determined to claim back status on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, a Tour where he won the historic Abierto OSDE del Centro in Cordoba, Argentina, in 2016.
Coming off an opening 67, Loya teed off at noon and just as Paolucci did, started the round with consecutive birdies and a bogey at the third. “On No. 3, I got a little carried away going for that pin, but aside from that I kept it pretty solid. I mean, I didn’t really make too many mistakes, and the ones that I did, I kind of recovered from,” said Loya, who birdied Nos. 6, 7, 8, 10, 14 and 15 to reach the top of the leaderboard.
The 27-year old has never had PGA TOUR Latinoamérica status, having unsuccessfully tried for membership at several Qualifying Tournaments, starting in 2016. This is his fourth consecutive year playing the Mexico qualifier, where his best finish was a tie for 61st last year. “(I) just kind of matured a little bit. I mean, finally it’s turning to play the way I kind of always thought I could, instead of just holding myself back from it. It’s pretty nice not being in my own way and just letting myself go out there and having fun,” said Loya.View this post on Instagram
Jacob Loya 🇺🇸 hizo 65 (-7) esta tarde para lograr el mejor score de la Ronda 2. Con -12 alcanzó a Paolucci en el liderato del Torneo de Clasificación de #pgatourla en @estrelladelmarmexico. This afternoon @jfloya of El Paso, Texas, recorded the lowest round of the day, a 7-under 65 that featured 8 birdies. He moved into a tie for halfway lead with A. Paolucci at 12-under. Q-School Mexico 2020.
In Thursday’s third round, Paolucci and Loya will be paired with Doyle. They are scheduled to tee it off at 12:20 p.m., off No. 1.
Did you know Anthony Paolucci is playing the course at Estrella del Mar for the third time in his career? His two previous starts here were at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s Mazatlán Open, an event he tied for 24th in in 2015 and tied for 43rd in 2016.
There are 37 players currently in position to earn PGA TOUR Latinoamérica status for the 2020 season. Below is a breakdown of the various rewards that the players inside the top 35 (and ties) can earn by the end of this week at Estrella del Mar Golf & Resort:
Exempt for the entire 2020 season
2nd through 12th (no ties)
Fully exempt for the first half of the 2020 season
13th through 35th (plus ties)
Conditionally exempt for the first half of the 2020 season
Jacob Loya recorded the lowest round of the day, a 7-under 65, that featured eight birdies and one bogey. He moved into a tie for the lead after beginning the day in a tie for ninth.
Tied for the lead with Paolucci and Doyle after an opening 64, Kaleb Gorbahn of Smithers, B.C., Canada, shot 3-over 75 Wednesday to slip into a tie for 25th, at 5-under.
There were 27 round in the 60s Wednesday, down from 33 Tuesday. The scoring average went up from 71.08 to 71.32 at the 7,015-yard par-72 at Estrella del Mar.
Tied for the 17th spot after rounds of 68-70, Li Wang of the U.S. is the only player who has yet to record a bogey this week.
There have been 13 bogey-free rounds through the first two days and below is the breakdown by round.
First Round: Brendon Doyle (64), Josh Sedeno (66), Steven Ihm (66), Josh Seiple (66), Daniel Hudson (67), Li Wang (68) and Tyler Torano (69).
Second Round: Derek Bayley (66), Callum McNeill (66), William Mansfield (67), Sonny Michaud (69), Li Wang (70) and Paul Imondi (70).
Juan Carlos Benítez of Puebla, Mexico, followed his opening 69 with a 68 to move into a tie for the 11th spot, at 7-under. The 27-year old is the best of five Latin American players competing this week. The following are their scores and positions after 36 holes of play at Estrella del Mar:
Juan Carlos Benítez (Mexico)
José Méndez (Costa Rica)
Mario Luján (Mexico)
José Luis Martínez (Mexico) amateur
José Luis Muñoz (Peru) amateur
American amateur Jed Hilton was the first player to withdraw from the tournament Wednesday, leaving the field at 85 players.
“I’m reading the greens pretty well. Aside from everything, I think my wedge play has been pretty good. I mean, I’ve hit a lot of greens, granted they are big greens, but I still hit them, today especially I hit them in all the right sections of the greens, so that kind of helped a lot. I didn’t really have a lot of lagged putts, really long putts or putts from off the green.”—Jacob Loya on the strengths of his game today
“(The wind) was a pretty weird. It was kind of strong at the beginning, and then, middle of the round, it got a little stronger. Towards the end, it kind of died down. It was weird, because there were some shots that it was still out there, you just couldn’t feel it where you were at. It kind of died down and made the last couple of holes play a little nicer.”—Jacob Loya discussing the wind conditions in the afternoon
“I didn’t hit it as well as I did [Tuesday], but I still played pretty solid. I putted it well. I had it going on the front and then just kind of hit a wall on the back, made a couple of good par saves to keep myself in it and birdied 17, which was good. I’m in a good position right now, I can’t complain.”—Brendon Doyle
“I’m just going to stick to my game plan. I think, honestly, I’m going to be more aggressive off the tee. I’ve hit my driver pretty well. I hit probably too many 2-irons off the tee today. I could have just blasted a driver, so I have to stay aggressive and keep making birdies because I feel good about my game”—Brendon Doyle discussing his game plan for the next two days
Second-Round Weather Report
Mostly cloudy. High of 81. Wind NWW early in the day, gusting to 7 mph.