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Jorge Fernández-Valdés makes Tour return in top shape

Due to a couple of weather suspensions, only 57 players were able to finish the opening round. Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. on Friday

Fernández-Valdés in action this Friday at Dorado Beach Resort's East Course. Photo by José Jiménez/PGA TOUR

DORADO BEACH, Puerto Rico (October 10, 2013) – After an outstanding first half of the season in which he collected a victory and four top-5 finishes, Argentina’s rising star Jorge Fernández-Valdés resumed his NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica 2013 campaign right where he left off.

He opened the second half of the season with a first-round 5-under 67 at the Puerto Rico Classic presented by Merrill Lynch and finished the day atop the leaderboard. Fernández-Valdés finished his round with one eagle, four birdies and one bogey at the Dorado Beach Resort & Club’s East Course

"It was a good day,” said the 21-year-old from Cordoba, Argentina. “I got off to a nice start and I’m very happy about that. I played well overall and thinks just worked out for me."

A runner-up in this same event last November, Fernández-Valdés started off the tenth tee in one of the most prominent threesomes to watch Thursday. He was joined by local favorite Rafael Campos, who carded a 68 to share the second place with Vince India, and former World No. 1 David Duval, who shot 70 despite a promising start of four birdies over his first six holes.

The Argentine started his day with a bogey on No. 11, but soon got himself under par with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 12 and 13. A great shot on No. 2, his 11th hole, gave him momentum. 

“I had 225 yards to the hole and I hit a perfect 3-iron,” he said. “It was a great second shot for an easy eagle putt that allowed me to keep pushing forward.”

Fernández-Valdés went on to collect two more birdies on 5 and 7.

NOTES:

Play suspended twice. Bad weather in the area of Dorado Beach forced play to be suspended twice in the afternoon. Play was halted first between 12:30 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. The horn calling a second suspension was heard at 3:08 p.m. and the wait lasted until 4:20 p.m., when Tour Officials announced that play was called for the day.

First round continues on Friday. The competitors who were unable to finish this opening round will be in position to resume play at 7:30 a.m. on Friday.

Second round tee times. If there are no further weather delays on Friday morning, groups on the first wave will start the second round between 1:20 a.m. and 1 p.m. Meanwhile, the second wave is schedule to begin between 3:50 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Jorge Fernández-Valdés. With the 67 he posted Thursday, Fernández-Valdés has improved his cumulative score to 17-under in five rounds he has played on the East Course. Last year, making only his fourth starts as a professional, he posted four rounds under par to lose by two and claim runner-up honors.

Asked how good the course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1958 and renovated by Trent Jones II in 2011 fits him, he said: “I think this course fits all of us. It’s a terrific golf course, which provides great playing conditions and demands a lot of strategy. I think it’s great for competition.”

Local favorite. Puerto Rico’s Rafael Campos got off to a strong start and was able to claim the outright lead at 5-under following a birdie on No. 2, his 11th hole of the day. However, a bogey on No. 7, where he hit a greenside bunker on his approach cost him a bogey and eventually a share of the lead.

"I felt very comfortable and although I didn’t finish the way I wanted, I managed to stay out of trouble. It was nice to have such a decent start,” said the young man who entered this half of the season ranked No. 24 in the Order of Merit.

David Duval. A former No. 1 on the Official World Golf Ranking, Duval had an impressive start of four birdies on his first six holes (10, 12, 13 and 15). However, he was unable to keep charging and surrendered a couple of shots with two bogeys on his last three holes.

“I made some nice saves during the day. All and all, I’m somehow happy with my score. I played kind of mediocre, I didn’t play great, I just kind of fought some of the little things I’ve been fighting on my golf swing. You know, missing a little bit to the right and that cost me a little bit coming in,” said the 13-time PGA TOUR champion, competing here on a sponsor exemption.

Defending champion. Mexico’s Sebastián Vázquez, the young man who won this event in only his second start as a professional last year, began his title defense with a 73 that left him tied for 55th after 18 holes. Vázquez, 22, has had two top-10 finishes this PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season and is currently ranked 15th in the Tour Order of Merit.

“Camarón” Rodríguez. Unable to practice the course because he made it to Puerto Rico on Wednesday night, Mexico’s José de Jesús “El Camarón” Rodríguez played only a few holes this afternoon. Despite starting bogey-bogey, the Tour’s Order of Merit No. 1 was simply grateful to be here and in positions to earn a 2014 Web.com Tour card at the end of this season.

Rodríguez learned today that he has earned a spot in the ISPS HANDA World Cup to be played at Royal Melbourne GC in Melbourne, Australia – November 20-24. Rodríguez made the 60-player field competing for $7 million as No. 400 on the Official World Golf Ranking. He has earned most of his OWGR points playing at a very high level on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, where he has had four top-3 finishes this season, including a win at the Roberto De Vicenzo Invitational Copa NEC last April in Montevideo, Uruguay.

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