Six tied for Estrella del Mar Open lead
March 06, 2020
By Communications, PGATOURLA.COM
- March 06, 2020
- Alvaro Ortiz of Guadalajara, Mexico, carded a 65 on Friday to get to 13-under thru 36 holes. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
Mazatlán, Mexico—It will be a crowded leaderboard going into the weekend of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s season-opening Estrella del Mar Open. Six players, including two home-country favorites—Alvaro Ortiz and Raúl Pereda—are tied for the lead, at 13-under, with 36 holes to play. Joining Ortiz and Pereda are Americans Sulman Raza, Chris Wiatr and Samuel Stevens and Guatemala’s José Toledo. They will begin the third round a stroke ahead of the quintet of Rowin Caron, Matt Gilchrest, Mitchell Meissner, Eric Steger and Alex Rocha.
Early in his round, Pereda, playing the back nine first at Estrella del Mar Beach and Golf, looked like he might go low and take control of the tournament. He birdied two of his first three holes and four of his first six. After a birdie on his ninth hole of the day, he made the turn at 5-under for the day and 13-under for the tournament. His hot streak ended there as he made nothing but pars the rest of the way.
“On my (final) nine, it got a little harder, especially with the wind blowing, when you’re into the wind or facing side wind. I think I was trying to force the putts to go in, and that was not the way to go,” Pereda said. “I started focusing again on putting a solid stroke with the putter.”
Toledo wasn’t as sharp Friday as he was in the opening round, but his 63-68 start has left him in position to grab his second career win, while Wiatr, playing only his second career event (missed the cut at the 2017 Flor de Caña Open in Nicaragua). Mexico has been good to Raza in the past, his best career finish coming at the Abierto Mexicano de Golf a year ago when he tied for fourth.
Ortiz is already displaying his extraordinary talent, atop the leaderboard in only second PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournament as a professional (he missed the cut at the 2019 Abierto Mexicano de Golf). After an inconsistent front nine (four birdies and two bogeys), Ortiz’s round really took off on the back nine, when he made five birdies in a row, beginning at No. 11. He rolled in putts of 15 feet, 20 feet, eight feet, six feet and four feet during the birdie binge.
Ortiz called his approach shot on No. 12, a green that featured a back-left pin on a ridge. “I hit it eight feet past the hole, but I thought I had made it from the fairway,” he said. No problem, though, as he calmly rolled in the birdie putt, his third birdie during his five-in-a-row streak. For a moment, he considered his pitching-wedge tee shot on the par-3 15th as a possible hole-in-one. “Not one person clapped, so I knew it didn’t go in,” he said, smiling.
“It was a terrific round from start to finish. I made a couple of mistakes here and there, but it didn’t really matter because I played so good,” he added. “I made nine birdies, and I think that by itself shows how I played.”
Action gets underway Saturday morning off of No. 1, in twosomes, the first tee time at 7:50 with the last tee time (Ortiz and Wiatr) at 12:40 p.m.View this post on Instagram
Álvaro Ortiz y Raúl Pereda representan a #México 🇲🇽 en un grupo de seis co-líderes a la mitad del #EstrellaDelMarOpen. Igualan a -13 con José Toledo 🇬🇹 y los estadounidenses Chris Wiatr, Sulman Raza y Samuel Stevens. Home-country favorites @alvaroob15 and @raulpdlh finished the day in a six-way tie for the lead at @estrelladelmarmexico. They join José Toledo of Guatemala and Chris Wiatr, Sulman Raza and Samuel Stevens of the U.S. at 13-under. #pgatourla
Did you know Alvaro Ortiz played the first two rounds of the 2019 Masters Tournament with World Golf Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer and Matt Wallace? Ortiz played the third round with Kevin Na and the final round, in threesomes, with Na and Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Ortiz, still an amateur at the time, went on to tie for 36th in his Augusta National Golf Club debut.
The cut came at 7-under, with 60 players making it to the weekend.
Prior to this week, the lowest cutlines in PGA TOUR Latinoamérica history are a pair of 5-under scores—137 at the par-71 Guacalito de la Isla Course during the 2016 Flor de Caña Open in Nicaragua and 139 at the par-72 Cinnamon Hills Golf Course during the 2018 BMW Jamaica Open.
The lowest cutline in 2019 was 4-under, at the Diners Club Peru Open in Lima. The least amount of strokes behind the leader and those who made the cut on the number in 2019 was six, at the Molino Cañuelas Championship in Argentina. This week it is also six shots.
The threesome of Alvaro Ortiz, Rowin Caron and Ryan McCormick were a combined 36-under for the two days they played together. Ortiz is at 13-under, Caron at 12-under and McCormick at 11-under. “It was fun. We were talking about it [Thursday]. We all shot 66. It was just positive energy, and we were feeding off of each other. It’s good to see other guys playing well. You see some putts going in. It’s good vibes,” said Caron.
Chris Wiatr is rooming this week with Brian Hughes. The two were also in the same grouping the first two days. Wiatr is the co-leader, at 13-under, while Hughes rebounded nicely from an opening, 1-over 73 to shoot 64 Friday to make the cut on the number. He’s tied for 50th. “When the pairings came out, I thought it was funny that I had to travel all the way to Mexico to play with one of my best friends,” Wiatr said.
This week, Samuel Stevens played his initial 26 holes bogey-free, making his first bogey on No. 18, his ninth hole of his second round. That blemish remains his only bogey of the tournament, as he followed his opening 65 with a 66.
Brian Hughes owned one of the five 64s Friday, the low score of the day. The others came from Piri Borja, Drew Nesbitt, Chris Wiatr and MJ Maguire.
The four Qualifying Tournament medalists are all in the field this week, the quartet led by Alvaro Ortiz (Buenos Aires qualifier), who is tied for the lead through 36 holes. France’s Jeremy Gandon (Central Florida qualifier) followed his 66 with a 67, and he’s tied for 12th. Jared Du Toit (who qualified at this course in January) missed the cut by a shot, while and A.J. Crouch (South Florida qualifier) also will be idle on the weekend, missing the cut by two strokes.
There were 25 players from Mexico in the field, with five making it to the weekend. They are Alvaro Ortiz and Raúl Pereda (tied for first), Gonzalo Rubio (tied for 12th) and Rodolfo Cazaubón and José Narro (tied for 50th).
“I’m hitting the ball better from tee to green. I’m driving it really good, and I’m hitting it long and straight.” –Alvaro Ortiz
“I’m pretty impressed with myself that I was able to shoot a better round than [Thursday] because [Thursday] it was playing a lot easier.” –Sulman Raza
“I had a moment on hole 6 where the ball plugged on the lip (of a bunker) and I could have easily made a six or a seven on the hole. I made sure I stayed calm and told myself that a four or five on this hole was great, and I didn’t need to be heroic in any way.” –Sulman Raza
“My putting has been really solid, too. I’ve been making a lot of putts from 10 feet to 20 feet. That really helps.” –Alvaro Ortiz
“The last three holes played dead into the wind. You have to be really focused on what your target is and not get lazy.” –Sulman Raza on Nos. 7, 8 and 9, his final holes of the second round
“It played totally different, and you have to flight the ball out here. It changes your course management in a way. You start to pick a little more conservative targets.” –Sulman Raza on how the wind affects strategy
“I couldn’t ask for anything better. I played really good [Thursday] and really solid today. I wasn’t hitting it as good, but I finished with three birdies.” –Rowin Caron
“I couldn’t really get it going. I was hitting greens but not really getting it close to the pins. So, it was really nice to finish this way because the other guys were playing so well, too.” –Rowin Caron
“If I have the opportunities, my putting right now is good enough to make it or two-putt.” –Raúl Pereda
“The swing didn’t feel 100 percent today, but I’m happy with the score.” –Rowin Caron
“I really like it. I like the courses and the level of competition. I’m really enjoying it. Obviously, the goal is to get off the Tour as soon as possible, to move up, but I’m really enjoying it.” –Rowin Caron as he begins his second season on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica
“It feels good, my game feels good and I was able to put together another good round today.” –Samuel Stevens
“Today was a lot different from [Thursday], when I hit it really well but putted fine only missing a few. Today, I hit it pretty good, but I definitely made some putts out there.” –Samuel Stevens
“On this course, there are so many opportunities to make birdies that I’m trying to give myself as many looks as possible. Fortunately, today I played the par-5s well. [Thursday] I didn’t do that. That was my goal today—to make sure I got the 5s.” –Chris Wiatr
“The game plan feels good. I’m driving it awesome, so I have lots of chances to make birdies.” –Chris Wiatr
“I’ve been hitting my driver pretty much on most of the holes. It’s definitely an advantage on the approaches to have a few wedges in your hands.” –Chris Wiatr
“The course is definitely designed to play with some wind, so when [the wind] lays down, you have to take advantage of it.” –Chris Wiatr
“I’m just happy to have a schedule and just be able to play. When you get into a tournament and you have to make something happen, it doesn’t always go that way. Then you get an event like this, and I know I have at least six more or seven more starts, hopefully it can all come together.” –Chris Wiatr
Tournament Fast Fact
The cutlines at the previous three PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournaments in Mazatlán were 4-over 148 (2014), 2-under 142 (2015) and 1-under 143 (2016). It was 7-under 137 this year.
Second-Round Weather Report
Mostly sunny and warm. High of 79. Wind W at 4-6 mph, with gusts to 10 mph.