Navarro, Focaccia share opening-round lead in Argentina
January 28, 2020
By Communications, PGATOURLA.COM
- January 28, 2020
- Felipe Navarro of Brazil finished birdie-birdie to get into a two-way tie for the lead at 5-under 67 at Cañuelas Golf Club. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Brazil’s Felipe Navarro and Argentina’s Oreste Focaccia shot 5-under 67s to share the opening-round lead at the 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament Argentina. The co-leaders finished the day two shots clear of Chile’s Horacio León and the Argentine trio of Jaime López Rivarola, Rafael Echenique and Matías Lescano.
With Sebastián López of Colombia, Luis Fernando Barco of Peru, Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico and José Montano of Bolivia joining Argentina’s Exequiel López and Matías Gramajo in a tie for seventh at 2-under 70, the top-10 features players from seven different countries. This, the fourth and final Qualifying Tournament for the 2020 season, is open only to Latin American players.
“I got off to a nice start, making eagle on No. 2, so that got my head in a good place for the remainder of the day,” said Navarro, a native of Sao Paulo, who made his only bogey on No. 4 and had birdies on Nos. 6 and 12 before a birdie-birdie finish.
Navarro, who will turn 30 later this year, is hoping to make his return to PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, where he made nine of his 30 career starts last year. “This is just the start. There are three days left to go, and you have to keep your pace to secure the card.”
Focaccia from La Plata is also seeking a Tour return. His only PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season came as a member in 2012 when he made 10 starts and finished the year ranked 87th on the Order of Merit as an 18-year old rookie.Focaccia has not been a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member since 2012, but he managed to make five starts last season. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
Starting on No. 10, Focaccia had a bogey early on his third hole of the day but bounced back with birdies on Nos. 15, 17 and 18. He picked up the pace again, going birdie-birdie-eagle between holes 3 and 5 to get to get to 6-under for the day.
“You know how golf is. Things worked out for me because I stayed patient. I was playing well, and then I missed a short putt for birdie on two, but then I made good shots on three and four and got to No. 5 still rolling. I hit a great drive, a 228-yard 3-iron to the front of the green and made the putt,” said Focaccia, who had a bogey on the eighth that prevented him from claiming the outright lead.
Did you know that Felipe Navarro’s father, Rafael Navarro, made 21 career PGA TOUR Champions starts between 2002 and 2004? The elder Navarro, currently a golf instructor, was a notable Brazilian pro who won 38 of his 48 career titles in his home country.
Those players competing at this event are looking to secure PGA TOUR Latinoamérica status for the 2020 season that will begin on March 5 at Estrella del Mar Golf & Resort in Mazatlán, Mexico. Below is a breakdown of the various rewards players can earn this week:
2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Status
Exempt for the entire season
2nd through 12th (no ties)
Fully exempt for the first half of the season
13th through 35th (plus ties)
Conditionally exempt for the first half of the season
Horacio León of Chile got off to a solid start on the back nine, recording birdies on Nos. 14, 16, 17 and 18 to get to 4-under for the day. He went on to have an uneven front, carding a double bogey, two bogeys and three birdies to post a 3-under 69. The winner of the 2018 Quito Open on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica was a Korn Ferry Tour member in 2019. At the next level, the 30-year-old made the cut in nine of 15 starts last year to finish the regular season ranked 110th.
Alvaro Ortiz had a rocky start of bogey-birdie-bogey but carded three birdies on the remaining 15 holes to post a 2-under 70. That left him only three strokes off the lead after 18 holes. A competitor at last year’s Masters Tournament as winner of the 2019 Latin America Amateur Championship, the Guadalajara, Mexico, native has made five PGA TOUR starts as a pro.
Joining Ortiz at 2-under is Matías Gramajo of Argentina. He leads a group of six amateurs competing this week. The others are fellow countrymen Horacio Carbonetti Jr. (74), Hernán Kranevitter (74), Pablo Nahmías (76), Mexico’s Aaron Terrazas (76) and Brazil’s Thor Salen (77).
There were 20 scores under par in the opening round, and the scoring average for the day came at 73.37 on the par-72 course. There were no bogey-free rounds.
“My goal after a good opening round is to do exactly what I did today. You have to stay calm because the pressure, the nerves, will obviously hit you at some point. You just have to keep going, limiting the mistakes as much as possible.”—Oreste Focaccia
“(The course) is impeccable. There were times when the wind picked up, and the wind here is kind of weird. Sometimes it’s blowing in one direction and you get to the tee and it suddenly switches. At times it’s tough to judge.”—Oreste Focaccia
“I think that I’m gaining experience. I have already played two full seasons (2014 and 2019) on this Tour. I just need to play a little more, get the right mileage in here.”—Felipe Navarro
“It’s a nice golf course, I really enjoyed it. I feel it demands a lot from you off the tee. You have to hit it straight, but it’s in great shape and that’s a plus.”—Alvaro Ortiz
“The biggest challenge this week is staying patient. I believe I played very well today, but I left a few shots out there. It’s just a matter of cleaning it up a little every day to get yourself in a good position and avoid the nerves on the final day.”—Alvaro Ortiz
Tournament Fast Fact
This is the seventh time that PGA TOUR Latinoamérica has staged a Qualifying Tournament in Argentina, but this is the first time that such qualifier has been only for Latin American players.
First-Round Weather Report
Mostly sunny. High of 88. Wind NNW at 10-15 mph.