Sebring, FL (January 21, 2014) – Cody Paladino of Connecticut and Jacob Burger of South Carolina carded rounds of 5-under par 67 to finish the day in a two-way tie for the lead at the NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s second and final Qualifying Tournament for the 2014 season.
Paladino and Burger, both 25, played in the first wave on a day in which 39 players were unable to complete the opening round at the Sun ‘N Lake Golf Club’s Deer Run Golf Course. Play was suspended at 5:54 p.m. due to darkness on a day that started with a 30-minute delay due to fog.
The competitors should be in position to resume the opening round tomorrow at 7:30 a.m., with the second round scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m. as well.
“I birdied my first hole, which was No. 10, and then I drove it really well all day, so I had a lot of good looks in the greens. I putted really well and made saves when I needed to. Made some great birdie putts when I had the looks. It was kind of managing my game and my opportunities well,” commented Paladino, who birdied three of his last five holes while making his first official start as a professional.
A 25-year-old who graduated from Baylor last year, Paladino is coming off a strong career as an amateur. Before going to college, he lost the 2007 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship final to Colt Knost at Cantigny Golf.
“A win in that event would have meant a spot in the Masters. I was 18 and I was admittedly quite nervous. That was awesome and it was cool going to college after that experience,” recalled the man who won the 111th Connecticut Amateur Championship and the 89th California State Fair Amateur Championship last year.
Burger, who closed his round with 3s on his last three holes, including a 35-footer for his last birdie on 17, went on to say: “It was a good, consistent round. I didn’t hit as well as I would have liked, but I putted really well, which always makes up for the bad ball striking.”
The 25-year old from South Carolina was encouraged to come by Corbin Mills, a NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member who was one of his college teammates at Clemson.
“I played eGolf (Tour) sparingly this past year up in North and South Carolina. (Corbin) is a good friend of mine and he told me I should come down here and give it a try and that’s what I’m doing.”
England’s Tom Berry, 22, who birdied his first five holes for the longest birdie streak of the day, was one of five players who shot 69 to finish the day in a tie for third. The other four who are trailing the co-leaders by two are Germany’s Stephen Jaeger and the American trio of Jared Steger, Will Coleman and Michael Schachner.
Schachner, a 28-year old from Illinois, was the best among those who played in the afternoon. The conditions got tougher halfway through the day, with the wind picking up and an unexpected share of rain.
Weather. There was a thirty-minute delay due to fog at the start of the day. Partly cloudy. Temperature on the high 60s. Winds WSW at 11 mph.
What’s at stake? The competitors are battling for NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica cards for the 2014 season. The leading 20 will earn full status, while the rest of the players finishing in the top 45 and ties will earn conditional status.
Under Par. A total of 20 players – five of them yet to finish – are currently under par.
Best rounds of the day:
T1. 67 (-5) Cody Paladino (USA), Jacob Burger (USA)
T3. 69 (-3) Tom Berry (GBR), Stephen Jaeger (GER), Jared Steger (USA), Will Coleman (USA), Michael Schachner (USA).
Bogey-free rounds: None
WD: Michael Murray (USA) and Nelson Heredia (a) (GUA).
About this week’s venue. The Sun ‘N Lake Golf Club was established in 1976 and it owns two 18-hole golf courses: Deer Run and Turtle Run. Playing 7,031 yards long, the par-72 Deer Run will serve as the Tour’s Qualifying Tournament course for the second consecutive year. Last year Tour officials decided to switch nines, making the 601-yard par-five No. 9 the final hole. This time around the course will be played as it was designed, with the finishing hole being a 170-yard par-three surrounded by water.
The season ahead. The 2014 season of NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica will consist of 16 events in 10 countries across Latin America. The season, to be played in two swings, will begin on Feb. 17 with the Colombian Open in Bucaramanga, Colombia. The season will be a race for players looking to finish the year among Los Cinco – the Order of Merit’s Top 5 – who will earn playing status on the Web.com Tour in 2015. By competing on NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, players also have the opportunity to earn status on PGA TOUR Canada and exemptions into the second and final stages of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament.