Lima, Peru (November 7, 2013) – Entering the final stage of a long season, Canada’s Derek Gillespie found the strength to card a bogey-free 7-under 65 that awarded him the opening-round lead of the 2013 Lexus Peru Open.
“I’ve been struggling all year, so it was nice to get off to a good start today. I birdied 2, chipped-in for eagle on No. 3 and then made a long putt on 4 to get off to pretty good start. I struck it really well today, gave myself chances -- it seemed like every hole and kept the ball in play, which is key out here,” the 35-year old from Oshawa, Ontario, said after his round of seven birdies at Los Inkas Golf Club.
A member of NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and PGA TOUR Canada, which secured him a schedule of 23 events, Gillespie has made only six cuts in his previous 18 starts this year on both tours.
After missing the cut by one shot at the Colombian Classic in Bogota, Gillespie spent the weekend working hard on his game at last week’s venue.
“I just kind of crept on something that kind of felt well. I hit it really well on the practice round (here in Peru) so I kind of took that confidence into today and hopefully it will last for three more days and going forward,” he added.
Gillespie, a two-time champion on PGA TOUR Canada early in his career, broke his femur, punctured a lung and had five broken ribs in a car crash in Arizona in 2011 that had many wondering if he’d be able to play again.
Argentina’s Francisco Bidé, another player who has struggled this year, made a charge in the afternoon and posted a 6-under 66, good enough for second place.
Rafa Campos of Puerto Rico and Daniel Altamirano of Argentina shot 67 to share third place. Meanwhile, Chile’s Santiago Russi, USA’s Cliff Kresge and the Argentine trio of Sebastián Saavedra, Julián Etulain and Sebastián Fernández share the fifth spot at 68.
Watch: Round 1 Recap
Watch: Gillespie Round 1 Interview
Weather. Mostly cloudy. Temperatures in the low 60s. Calm winds.
Low round by a Canadian player. Derek Gillespie’s 65 was the lowest score by a Canadian player this season on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. The previous low round belonged to Adam Cornelson, who posted a 66 in the opening round of the Roberto De Vicenzo Invitational Copa NEC last April. There are six Canadian members on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and Gillespie is the one who has made the most starts with 10.
Second place holder has had a tough year as well. Argentina’s Francisco Bidé, who had a solid round of seven birdies and only one bogey this afternoon, is another player who has had a tough season. In fact, he has only made one cut in 10 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica starts.
“I believe I was thinking a lot, overanalyzing things, rather than just going out to play golf. After missing three cuts by one shot, I decided it was time to stop looking at the leaderboard and just play golf,” he commented about his approach today.
A 26-year old who turned pro in 2011, Bidé has been living out of his suitcase this year. He has traveled across the Americas and he even caddied over the summer in order to fund his second half of the season.
“I played really bad at the beginning of the year, so I ran out of money and had to caddie to get some money. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I had to do it in order to keep my season here afloat,” confessed the young Argentine who has spent only six weeks back at home in Olavarria, Argentina.
Today’s score should not be a surprise for Bidé, who posted three rounds in the 60s just two weeks ago to finish fifth at the Andrés Romero Invitational on the Argentine Tour.
Promising start for Rafa Campos. Although he started the day with a bogey at the first hole, Puerto Rico’s Rafael Campos made six birdies between holes 8 and 18 to finish the day in a tie for third. “I took advantage of my wedges today and loved the way I finished, especially between holes 15 and 18, which are quite complicated. I found water with my driver on 15 and that hurt. I hooked it into the water, but I managed to hit a terrific 6-iron within 10 feet and made the par putt. That really boosted my confidence over that difficult final stretch,” said the 25-year old currently ranked No. 28 in the Order of Merit.
Only his third Tour starts this season. Although he has stayed active back at home in Argentina, Daniel Altamirano is only making his third PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start this season. He made a great approach at the final hole today in order to collect one final birdie and post a 67 that tied Campos for third. “It was a pretty even day. I regret the bogey on 17, but I really had a good strategy, putting the ball exactly where I wanted and staying focused,” said the 34-year old who saved his card by finishing as the 50th ranked player on Tour last season.
Defending champion in trouble. Peru’s Sebastián Salem got off to promising start, with two birdies on his first 13 holes. However, he lost his pace late, with four bogeys on the last five holes. An opening round of 2-over 74 will force him to play quite well on Friday in order to make the cut for the top 55 and ties.
Los Cinco. The players who entered this week ranked in the top 5 of the Order of Merit posted the following scores today:
No. 1 José de Jesús Rodríguez, México 69 (-3)
No. 2 Ryan Blaum, USA 71 (-1)
No. 3 Manuel Villegas, Colombia 74 (+2)
No. 4. Jorge Fernández-Valdés, Argentina 74 (+2)
No. 5 Timothy O’Neal, USA 70 (-2)
Bogey- free rounds
Derek Gillespie, Canada 65 (-7), Manuel Inman, Mexico 69 (-3)