Ortiz, Lezcano share 54-hole lead in Argentina
January 30, 2020
By Communications, PGATOURLA.COM
- January 30, 2020
- Alvaro Ortiz entered the day in a tie for eighth, but thanks to a 5-under 67 has moved into a tie for the lead. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico and Matías Lezcano of Argentina share the lead heading into the final round of the 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament Argentina. Ortiz made his move with a third-round, 5-under 67 Thursday, while Lezcano posted his third consecutive 69 to make it a two-way tie for first, at 9-under 207.
The new tournament co-leaders are one stroke ahead of Chile’s Juan Cerda, who made six birdies for a 67, and Juan José Guerra of the Dominican Republic. Guerra survived an eventful front-nine to shoot 72 after entering the day tied for the lead with Felipe Navarro of Brazil, who struggled to a 5-over 77 that slowed him and left him in a tie for the 17th spot.
“(My game) was quite fluid, and I limited the mistakes to a minimum,” said Ortiz about his solid round of six birdies and only one bogey at Cañuelas Golf Club, where he shot 70 the previous two days.
The 24-year old from Jalisco opened his day with birdies on Nos. 2, 5 and 8 to make the turn at 3-under. His only bogey came on No. 11, but he bounced back with a birdie on 12 and had two more down the stretch. “I had two good birdies, on 16 and 17, to close out the round. I leave with a nice feeling heading into [Friday],” said the University of Arkansas alum.
Ortiz turned professional right after playing in last year’s Masters Tournament, an event he was invited to as winner of the 2019 Latin America Amateur Championship. In 2019, he also made five PGA TOUR starts as a professional, including a tie for 48th at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, an event where he stayed inside the top 10 for the first three rounds.
“I feel at ease in this position,” said Ortiz about taking a share of the lead into the final day. “I believe that all the things that I experienced last year at different stages provide me with tools to go out and seek a win [Friday].”
Inside the top three after each round this week, thanks to a steady dose of 69s, Lezcano also feels good about his chances heading into Friday. “I know that the goal for the week is to get status to play as many tournaments as possible. We are not playing for money at this tournament, but we have the pressure of getting a Tour card. I just have to stay calm and play my game,” said the 23-year old from Las Cumbres, Cordoba.Matías Lezcano during the third round, Thursday at Cañuelas Golf Club. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
Lezcano was especially pleased with his performance on the front nine Thursday. He shot 3-under on that side, with birdies on Nos. 2, 6, 7 and 9, and a bogey on 8. “I had it going with the putter on the front. I dropped a couple of bombs, a 20-footer on six and a longer one on nine. I hadn’t putted this well in a while,” said Lezcano.
With a chance to open some room at the top, Lezcano only managed to shoot even-par on the back, making a bogey on 12 and a birdie on 18. “We were behind the pace of play, and the anxiety of trying to catch up and play faster kind of made me lose focus. Anyway, I managed to finish with a birdie on 18, so we are good,” added the 23-year old who turned pro a year ago.
Jaime López Rivarola of Argentina birdied five of the last eight holes to shoot 68 and move into the solo fifth, while Raúl Pereda of Mexico went bogey-free for a low-of-the-day, 6-under 66 to charge into a tie for sixth. At 6-under, Pereda is joined by countryman Alejandro Villasana and the Argentine trio of Exequiel López, Oreste Focaccia and Maxi Godoy.
On Friday morning, Ortiz and Lezcano will be joined by Juan Cerda in the last group. They are scheduled to start the final round at 9:39 a.m., local time.
Did you know that last year Alvaro Ortiz became the first Mexican in 40 years to qualify for the Masters Tournament? He earned his invite as winner of the 2019 Latin America Amateur Championship and shot 73-71-73-69 to tie for 36th while making his last career start as an amateur at Augusta National. Victor Regalado made the last Masters start by a Mexican player, in 1979.
Those competing at this final qualifier, which is open only to Latin American players, are looking to secure PGA TOUR Latinoamérica status for the 2020 season. 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
Juan Cerda has not had PGA TOUR Latinoamérica status since 2016, a season he joined the Tour by finishing solo sixth at the Qualifying Tournament Argentina. The 26-year old from Santiago got in position to return to the Tour with a solid round of 5-under 67 that featured birdies on Nos. 2, 7, 8, 12, 14 and 16. His only bogey came at No. 4. Cerda has made 22 career starts on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, with a tie for sixth at the 2013 Chile Open his best finish.
Juan José Guerra shot 6-under on the front nine without any bogeys for the first two days and was extremely pleased about the way that side suits his game. However, the story was quite different Thursday, as he had two double bogeys on Nos. 2 and 9, a bogey on the eighth and two birdies on Nos. 5 and 7 for a 3-over 39. He managed to get things back to even for the day with birdies on 14, 15 and 18 and will enter the final day only one off the lead.
Raúl Pereda’s 6-under 66 was not only the lowest round of the day it also was the only bogey-free round Thursday. The 23-year old from Mexico birdied holes 1, 5, 9, 11, 12 and 16 to move into a tie for sixth after entering the day in a tie for 22nd with opening rounds of 74-70.
After a solid start of 67-69 to share the lead after each round, Felipe Navarro of Sao Paulo, Brazil, had a day to forget. He recorded only two birdies (Nos. 4 and 18), one double bogey on 10 and five bogeys, on 6, 8, 11, 13 and 17, respectively. In a three-way tie for 17th, Navarro trails the leaders by six strokes.
Argentina’s Hernán Kranevitter, tied for 42nd at 7-over, remains the lowest amateur in the field. The others are fellow countrymen Matías Gramajo and Pablo Nahmías, at 8-over, and Brazil’s Thor Salen, at 15-over.
There were 21 rounds under par Thursday, compared to 23 Wednesday and 20 Tuesday. The scoring average for the third round was 73.25, up from 72.51 Wednesday but down from 73.37 Tuesday.
“I have been playing good golf for a while now. Over the last couple of months, I left a couple of shots out there at different tournaments because I didn’t stay calm, so that was the goal for this week, to stay calm and (be) as much under control during rounds. —Alvaro Ortiz
“Today I struck the ball a lot better than the past two days, and I was quite assertive with the putter.”—Juan Cerda after a round of 67 that took from a tie for 11th into a tie for third
“I believe there might be some nerves (Friday), especially at the start, but you have to make your best effort to stay calm, to keep the score and secure the card.” —Juan Cerda
“It was definitely a fight. For the first 12 holes I had no idea where the ball was going. I was unlucky on two. I pulled my driver a bit, and we searched for the ball in the wrong place, but the ball was in a perfect spot in the rough, about 10 yards off the fairway. But the three-minute search was already over, so I had to pick it up and get back to the tee and I made a double (bogey) there. On No. 9, I had a bad lie in the bunker and made another double. Anyway, I fought back, and I’m pleased for the way I was able to recover.”—Juan José Guerra on shooting par for the day after getting to 3-over on the front nine
Tournament Fast Fact
In the event of a tie for the first and 12th spots after 72 holes, officials will conduct sudden-death playoffs to determine status. The medalist will be exempt for the entire season, while the players ranked second through 12th (no ties) will be fully exempt for the first half of the season.
Third-Round Weather Report
Mostly clear. High of 78. Wind ENE at 10-15 mph.