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  • Steady Hill joins Benitez in lead at halfway mark

  • In February 2020, John Hill earned PGA TOUR Canada membership but was unable to play because of the pandemic. (Media/PGA TOUR)
    In February 2020, John Hill earned PGA TOUR Canada membership but was unable to play because of the pandemic. (Media/PGA TOUR)
  • In This Article
  • LUJÁN, Argentina—American John Hill has been steady this week, with rounds of 67-66, while Mexico’s Isidro Benitez followed his blistering, opening-round, 9-under 63 with a little-cooler-but-certainly serviceable 70. That left the duo tied at the top of the leaderboard through 36 holes of the fourth and final PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament. American Josh Radcliff is a stroke behind, while Bolivia’s Jose Luis Montano is two off the leading pace.

    While it’s his first visit to Argentina—his first time in South America—Hill says he feels at home at the Country Club Las Praderas de Lujan. “It’s pretty similar to where I live in San Antonio (Texas). I’m used to it being warm and windy there like it is here,” said the 2020 graduate of University of Incarnate Word, also in Texas.

    Hill played a clean front nine, with three birdies and six pars, playing the course’s back nine first. He added three more birdies over his next four holes before a bogey at No. 5 dropped him back a stroke. His final birdie of the day came at his 18th hole, the par-5 ninth. This week Hill has played par-5s eight times and recorded eight birdies, “I’m giving myself two putts or easy ups and downs for birdie, which has been very stress-free,” he said.

    Hill has also hit 36 of 36 greens through two rounds, while Benitez was a perfect 18 for 18 in the greens-in-regulation category Wednesday. “That tells you a bit about how I played today,” said Benitez. “A lot of putts narrowly missed, so that didn’t bother me. I could have done a better score, but I don’t regret my game.”

    Benitez made three birdies to go with his bogey at the par-4 third to finish his round to forge the tie.

    Did you know Josh Radcliff left Dallas on Sunday at 6 a.m., CST for a flight to Los Angeles? From there, he traveled back across the country, to Miami, had a layover in South Florida and then flew directly to Buenos Aires. He arrived in Argentina on Monday morning at 11:30. All told, he spent approximately 30 hours in airports and on planes.
    Key Information

    How the Tournament Works

    One-hundred-two players started the tournament Tuesday, and 100 remain. Below is a breakdown of the various PGA TOUR Latinoamérica statuses available this week:

    Finish Position

    Status

    Medalist

    Exempt for the entire 2021-22 season

    2nd through 12th (no ties)

    Exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season

    13th through 40th (plus ties)

    Conditionally exempt

    This is a 72-hole, no-cut event. There will be playoffs, if necessary, for the medalist position and for the 12th and final position available.

    Players in this week’s field come from 14 countries and territories: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Sweden, United States and Venezuela.

    In February 2020, John Hill earned PGA TOUR Canada membership but was unable to play because of the pandemic. His conditional status gave him 2021 Forme Tour membership, but he was unable to get into any of the eight tournaments. “I thought this would be a great opportunity to come and get status and get used to tournaments sanctioned by the PGA TOUR. PGA TOUR Latinoamérica is a great opportunity to advance to the Korn Ferry Tour and to get used to traveling and knowing what to expect in four-day events while going from country to country,” he said of his reasons for trying to qualify this week.

    After going bogey-free in the first round, Mexico’s Isidro Benitez played his first 11 holes of his second round without a bogey. One finally came on No. 3, his 12th hole of the day, but he got that stroke back on his closing hole, No. 9, with a birdie and his 2-under 70.

    On his way to a bogey-free, 5-under 67, Josh Radcliff made four birdies in a row, starting at No. 9. He had a two-putt birdie at the par-5 ninth and then enjoyed wind-against-his-back holes on the next three, putting his drive into a greenside bunker on 10 and getting up and down and then rolling in back-to-back putts on his next two holes.

    The day’s biggest mover was Argentina’s Alan Wagner, who opened with a 1-over 73 only to fire a 67 in the second round. Wagner began the day tied for 12th through 36 holes. American Casey Fernandez enjoyed a 14-shot difference between rounds, shooting a 66 Wednesday. His was the best improvement of the day, and he will begin the third round tied for 54th.

    Andrew Arft had the biggest drop, going from an opening 67 to a 77. He is tied for 36th after beginning the day tied for fourth.

    Of the five amateurs in the field, Argentina’s Aram Yenidjeian leads the way. He’s tied for 12th, at 4-under, after rounds of 71-69. Jon Moles is the only other amateur at par or better. He fired consecutive, even-par 72s and is tied for 36th.

    There are 20 Argentines in this week’s field. The following are their scores and positions through 18 holes:

    Pos.

    Name

    Scores

    T6

    Exequiel Lopez

    65-72—137 (7-under)

    T8

    Puma Dominguez

    70-69—139 (5-under)

    T8

    Maximiliano Godoy

    70-69—139 (5-under)

    T12

    a-Aram Yenidejian

    71-69—140 (4-under)

    T12

    Alan Wagner

    73-67—140 (4-under)

    T18

    Lisandro Eyherabide

    72-69—141 (3-under)

    T30

    Facundo Villanueva

    71-72—143 (1-under)

    T36

    Franco Scorzato

    70-74—144 (even)

    T46

    Vicente Sequeira

    71-74—145 (1-over)

    T46

    Matias Lezcano

    74-71—145 (1-over)

    T46

    Hernan Kranevitter

    73-72—145 (1-over)

    T54

    Luciano Giometti

    72-74—146 (2-over)

    T54

    Jesus Montenegro

    77-69—146 (2-over)

    T54

    Roman Rebora

    73-74—147 (3-over)

    T54

    a-Matias Gramajo

    74-73—147 (3-over)

    T54

    Matias Simaski

    74-73—147 (3-over)

    T70

    Bernardo Bide

    71-77—148 (4-over)

    T74

    Horacio Carbonetti

    75-75—150 (6-over)

    T79

    Antonio Maciel

    76-75—151 (7-over)

    T93

    Mariano Benitez

    79-76—155 (11-over)

    Quotable

    “Fortunately, I had a friend like Luis in the group, and that is an extra element. When you have a good time with a friend, and more if he is also playing incredible, I think it is more than you can ask for.” –Isidro Benitez on playing with Jose Luis Montano

    “I think my biggest problem last year was that I started hitting it harder than I usually do, and those extra yards that I gained affected me. I didn’t know how to set up a correct strategy with my additional distance.” –Isidro Benitez on his recent struggles

    “I got in a nine-hole practice round. Maybe that’s the secret.” –Josh Radcliff on his short preparation time because of travel issues into Argentina

    “It was extremely solid. I stuck to my game plan all day. I tried to pick and choose when I would try to hit it close. I tried to give myself as many looks as I could.” –John Hill

    “I was lucky to play in the morning today. It’s supposed to be hot this afternoon. It’s good to get out of the sun.” –John Hill

    “I played the par-5s really solid and made a few birdies there. My scrambling was good, as well, making only one bogey. I’m pretty solid with my game right now.” –Jose Luis Montano

    “It’s been great. I’ve known Isidro since I played my first tournaments on this Tour. He’s a great guy, and we both have a lot of fun and play well. Hopefully we’ll be paired together for the next couple of rounds and keep the good momentum going.” –Jose Luis Montano on playing with second-round leader Isidro Benitez the first two rounds

    “It’s a course where you have options off the tee if you’re not hitting the driver well. You can hit an easy iron and still have inside 150 (yards).” –Jose Luis Montano

    “The greens are receptive, and you should be able to make a couple of putts out here.” –Jose Luis Montano

    Second-Round Weather Report
    Sunny and hot. High of 93. Wind N at 8-12 mph.