PEREIRA, Colombia (May 3, 2013) - For the second consecutive Saturday, Colombian Marcelo Rozo and American Timothy O'Neal will play together in the final group of a NEC Series PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event.
A week ago in Montevideo they were separated by only one shot, but Friday, after 36 holes of the 66th Arturo Calle Colombian Open, they are tied for the lead at 8-under.
Rozo moved into the lead after a bogey-free 64, while O'Neal shot 66. He closed the day with a birdie on 9, his final hole to take a one shot advantage of a huge group of nine players tied for third place with 135 strokes.
This second day of the tournament presented by Diners Club International was played without interruption and with plenty of low scores. Including Rozo and his compatriot Juan Martin Hoyos, who shared the best card of the day. Also on Friday there were 14 players who had a 66 score or less.
At this stage of the tournament the top 20 of the leaderboard are separated by just three strokes, a sign of the open fight expected for this weekend at the par-71, 7,012-yard Country Club Pereira.
Rozo, 23, who last September was seventh in this event as amateur, take the lead with seven birdies on holes 12, 14, 15, 16, 1, 2 and 9.
"Yesterday I played really well, but I left many birdies in the course. Today the putter helped me and was the key of the round. I've been hitting the ball very well for two weeks. In Uruguay I hit very well, did everything right, and today I took the good shots I did with the putter," said Rozo, who yesterday shot 70 in the first round.
About his position in the leaderboard and the advantage to play in this course he added: "I really like this course, I think I won a few times here as an amateur and as a junior, I feel comfortable and happy to be in the position I'm in ".
Although he didn’t set the same pace he did last week, when he made 18 birdies in the first 36 holes of Roberto De Vicenzo Invitational, when he lost in a playoff, American O'Neal is again a serious candidate.
On Friday he followed his first round 68 with a 66, with four birdies, an eagle and just one bogey. The last of his birdies was on the par-4 ninth hole, his 18th, where after hitting a bad driver he could recover and holed a 22-footer.
"I hit the ball very well and did not miss any greens. The putt didn’t go that well, but I stuck around all day, "said O'Neal, who admitted having failed three or four of them for birdie from just five foot away.
On his return to the lead, after a week in which the victory was narrowly escaped, O’Neal was optimistic. "Last week was fun. Unfortunately I did not win, but I had the experience of playing in the last group for the last two rounds. I need to learn from that to try to finish up, but we still have 36 holes."
The nine players sharing third place, one shot behind, are the Colombians Alvaro Pinedo (65), Jesus Amaya (67), and Jesus Osmar (70), Mexicans Jose de Jesus Rodriguez (66), and Oscar Serna (67), Americans Liam Logan (68) and Michael Buttacavoli (68), Canadian Adam Cornelson (66) and the Chilean Christian Espinoza (68).
Cloudy skies. The wind blew from the north just 3 km / h and the maximum temperature was 23 degrees Celsius.
The cut was surpassed by 60 players total at 1-under or better.
Third round play will begin at 8:43 a.m. The group of leaders, Rozo and O'Neal with Jesus Amaya, will tee off at 10:22 a.m. Players will play in threesomes, starting from holes 1 and 10.
A three-time winner of the Colombian Open (1993, 2004-05) the Colombian is one of the players to watch this weekend. Today he began the day with a double-bogey at 2, but made six birdies to shoot 67. "Despite starting with double-bogey, thereafter I did not miss a single shot, I left the ball really close," said the 43-year-old, who last year ranked 34th in the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit.
With the consistency of four top 15's in all four tournaments this season, the Mexican Oscar Serna reappears again at the top after a good 67 that included an eagle at the 12th, where he holed out from a bunker. "In a course as wet as this is, is very important to hit the fairway. Today in the first nine holes I hit only two fairways, but managed to finish even par. In the second nine, I hit more fairways and I could make some birdies ", said 34 year old Mexican, professional since 1994.
The American followed his first round 67 with a 68 to achieve his sixth consecutive round under par on Tour. Five of those rounds have been 69 or below. On Friday he shot even on the back 10, but things improved with birdies at 1, 2 and 6. "It was another solid day,I hit many greens. I'm still missing some putts, but I played solid enough to put myself in position again, "said the 24-year-old from Oklahoma University.
At midmorning, after making birdies at 12, 15, 17 and 18 to get 8 under for the tournament, the American seemed to escape. But a couple of bogeys at 5 and 6 stopped him. "Today I didn’t feel comfortable with the way I hit, but I made some putts and that kept me alive," said the 25-year-old who in last November was in contention at the Colombian Coffee Classic in Cali, finishing fifth.
The 25-year-old Canadian, originally from British Columbia, owned one of the most entertaining rounds of the day. His 66 included seven birdies, an eagle, four bogeys and only five pars. This was his second 66 in the last five rounds, the first one he did it last Thursday in Montevideo, where he finished tied for 35th in his best finish in four appearances at the Tour.
Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
"In the second nine I hit the ball very close and putts were coming one after another. The truth is that when one is playing confidently, things go easier, "said the Mexican, who after shooting par on the first nine birdied holes 11, 12, 14, 15 and 18 . The 32-year-old is the current No. 1 of “Los Cinco” following his victory at last Sunday's Roberto De Vicenzo Invitational and second a few weeks before at the TransAmerican Open CRV Power Products.
Tied for the lead after the first round with the Mexican Manuel Inman, who today shot 73 to move within four strokes of the top, the Colombian knew to fight. The 41-year-old had a good start with two birdies in the first six holes, but made three bogeys between 7 and 10. "After this third bogey I took a deep breath. It was just one more in the day and I knew that I could still close in a good position for the weekend," said Osmar, who regained ground with birdies at 12 and 13 to shoot 70 and join the multiple tie for third place.
Shot of the Day
Julio Santos holed his second shot from 150 yards with pitching wedge for eagle on the par-four No. 16, a 445-yard hole. He also made four birdies to present a 65 to get into a tie for twelfth place.
With wet course conditions after heavy rains, players were allowed to lift, clean and place on the fairway.