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Luna, Doyle share lead in Bucaramanga

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Luna, Doyle share lead in Bucaramanga

    Written by Gregory Villalobos @PGATOURLA

    BUCARAMANGA, Colombia—Firing identical scores of 63-65 to start the weather-delayed Colombia Classic presented by Rocha Brothers, Juan Pablo Luna of Bogota, Colombia, and Brendon Doyle of Louisville, Kentucky, finished Friday in a tie for the clubhouse lead, at 12-under 128. Both had a busy Friday, with Luna playing 24 holes and Doyle playing 27 after their opening rounds were suspended due to darkness Thursday.

    Stuart Macdonald of Vancouver, Canada, carded a 64 to move into solo third, at 11-under, only a shot behind Luna and Doyle. The opening-round leader after a 9-under 61, Matt Ryan of Valencia, California, had to settle for a 1-under 69 Friday to slip into a tie for fourth. At 10-under for the tournament, he is joined by Austin Hitt of Longwood, Florida, who leads the players who were still on the course when PGA TOUR Latinoamérica officials blew the horn at 5:56 p.m. local time.

    The 43 players who were unable to finish the second round Friday, will resume play at 7 a.m. Saturday. The cut is currently projected at 3-under par.

    “This is a golf course that I know really well. As a junior, I used to come here to practice a lot with my teacher, Pedro Russi, so I feel very comfortable out there. I was able to do well, and it worked out for me,” said Luna of his first 36 holes at Ruitoque Golf Country Club.

    At 6-under through 12 holes when officials suspended play Thursday, Luna came back early Friday morning to card an opening 63, bogeying No. 6 and then recording a closing eagle on No. 9. Starting the second round at 8:35 a.m., he endured stomach pains that somehow was a positive factor.

    “It was a very long day, and the stomachache that I had made it even longer,” said Luna of his long day. “Sometimes when you are feeling a bit sick, you try not force things and somehow everything works out better than usual.”

    Making two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine, Luna caught fire on the back nine, making four birdies in a row, starting on No. 11. He sank a 10-footer for his birdie on 11 then hit great approach shots on the next two, putting his ball within four feet of the cup twice to secure two more birdies. He then sank a 36-footer for his fourth consecutive birdie, on 14. A bogey on 15, which was playing tough into the wind, didn’t affect his momentum, as he managed to finish with back-to-back birdies, on 17 and 18.

    “The first few holes on this course are tough. Holes 1 through 6 aren’t easy holes, and I made it through at 1-over. Then I did everything well the rest of the way. I struck the driver great, so I was able to take advantage of the birdie holes, I made the putts that I needed to make, and things worked out,” added Luna, who is making his 130th PGA TOUR Latinoamérica career start but only his second this season.

    Playing his third full season on Tour, Doyle is poised to play on the weekend for a fifth consecutive time after beginning his season missing four cuts in a row.

    “I feel like I’m playing really well. I made a couple of adjustments on my swing that I think are helping, (because) it’s more consistent, and I’m putting it great out here. I like these greens, and I feel good about the next few rounds,” said Doyle, who needs a good finish in order to improve on his 86th spot in the Totalplay Cup standings.

    At 4-under through nine in the opening round, Doyle had three more birdies early in the day to card a 63. He kept a good pace in the second round, making seven birdies and two bogeys, while battling to keep his energy and focus up.

    “It was really good. I played really solid all day, hitting the ball really well the last two days. I made a couple of dumb bogeys in there, where I kind of lost focus, but it was a grind, 27 holes today was a lot, so I’m happy to finish well,” said the 27-year old who birdied three of his last five holes, Nos. 14, 16 and 18.

    Did you know Juan Pablo Luna ranks third among the players with the most career starts on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica? Entering this season with 128 starts in 10 seasons, Luna had the most career starts. Having made only one start prior to this one—at the JHSF Brazil Open—he has seen Argentina’s Tommy Cocha and Leandro Marelli move past him to take the top-two spots among the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s iron men. Including this week’s Colombia Classic presented by Rocha Brothers, Cocha has made 134 starts, Marelli 131, and Luna 130.

    Key Information

    With only three full-field events left to play before the season-ending Bupa Tour Championship, the finish line is moving closer. Earning Totalplay Cup points is critical for players all across the standings in order to get the different performance rewards available.

    In 130 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica career starts, Juan Pablo Luna is leading or co-leading for the first time. Across 11 seasons on Tour, he has recorded seven top-10 finishes, with a tie for third at the 2015 Colombia Open and a tie for fifth at the 2015 Ecuador Open his best results.

    The 63-65 (12-under) start is Brendon Doyle's best 36-hole position in three seasons on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. A 65-64 (13-under) opening two rounds placed him second at the 2020 Puerto Plata Open in the Dominican Republic, an event where he went on to tie for third for his best career finish on Tour.

    With his 65-65 start, Canada’s Stuart Macdonald remains on pace to defend his position as the player with the lowest PGA TOUR Latinoamérica scoring average this season. He entered the week averaging 69.06 strokes per round, following four top-20s in as many starts (a tie for 16th at the Roberto De Vicenzo Memorial, a tie for sixth at the JHSF Brazil Open, a tie for 14th at the Diners Club Peru Open and a tie for 17th at the Kia Open). “I’m playing pretty good, pretty steady. I’d like to get myself into contention going into Sunday and have a chance. I haven’t been able to do that yet, but I’m playing good golf, so hopefully I can keep it up and have a good week,” said the 28-year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia, who joined the Tour via the Korn Ferry Tour category

    Brazilian veteran Alexandre Rocha followed an opening 69 with a 7-under 63 for the low score of the second round. He had an eagle at the last, six birdies and only one bogey for his 63. At 8-under for the tournament, he is currently tied for ninth.

    In trouble, at 3-over par when officials suspended play due to darkness Thursday, Totalplay Cup No. 1 Conner Godsey turned things around Friday with a birdie-par-birdie-birdie finish to shoot even-par 70 in the opening round. He carried that momentum into the second round, posting a 5-under 65, with an eagle at the last, where he sank a 12-foot putt. “Honestly, I didn’t feel like I had a feel for how the course was playing yesterday. It just took me a little while to get adjusted to the green firmness and just how far the ball was going,” admitted the 31-year-old from Alabama, who has two runner-up finishes this season. “I had a better feel for it today, and I was swinging better and putting nicely.”

    Entering the week as No. 60 in the Totalplay Cup standings, Chile’s Gabriel Morgan Birke is in position to move away from an always stressful spot in the standings. After rounds of 65-66, he is projected to move to 40th in the standings if he manages to keep the pace. “I’m trying not to look too far ahead. I’m trying to keep it one shot at a time. I don’t want to look at leaderboards or anything of that sort. I’m just trying to make my best effort on the next shot,” said the 26-year-old from Santiago, Chile, who has made the cut in five of eight starts this season.

    With Juan Pablo Luna tied for the lead, there are five Colombian players currently inside the projected cut line. A total of 21 Colombians started the tournament, and the following are in position to play two more rounds:

    T1Juan Pablo Luna128 (-12)
    T32Jesús Amaya135 (-5)
    T32Ricardo Celia5-under through 12
    T53Daniel Pico3-under through 12
    T53Dini Bastidas3-under through 12

    After carding a 3-over 73 Thursday, the LPGA’s Mariajo Uribe put on a good battle Friday afternoon, trying to get in position to make the cut. She shot 3-under 33 on the front nine, making five birdies and two bogeys. She added a bogey on 10 and was at 2-under for the day through 12 when play ended due to darkness. At 1-over for the tournament, Uribe is four strokes off the projected cut line, which is currently at 3-under par.

    PGA TOUR Latinoamérica officials expect the third-round tee times to run from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, with players grouped in threesomes, starting off Nos. 1 and 10.

    Second-Round Weather: Cloudy. High of 81. Wind NE 6-18 mph.

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