After successfully navigating this week’s Monday qualifier to make his PGA TOUR Latinoamérica debut, Neil Gannaway carded a solid 65 that featured eight birdies. The 27-year old joined the Tour last January, earning conditional status with a tie for 22nd at the Mission Inn Q-School. Gannaway played football at Tennessee Tech, where he was a wide receiver. He had 16 career receptions, and he scored his first touchdown on a 20-yard pass reception from quarterback Darian Stone against Austin Peay. He joined the golf team in the spring of 2015 as a senior and then played in the fall season as a graduate student.
Patrick Newcomb probably had the best start to the tournament, going eagle-birdie on the first two holes. He was 5-under through seven but added only one more birdie on a bogey-free opening-day performance. A winner on both PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, Newcomb had a busy LOCALiQ Series season. He played all eight tournament, missing only one cut and tying for eighth at the season-ending LOCALiQ Series Championship four weeks ago.
Playing this event as an amateur last year, Juan José Guerra of the Dominican Republic fired an opening 63 to hold a three-shot lead before tying for 23rd. Thursday, he made his return as a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica rookie and posted a 5-under 66 to tie for the eighth spot.
The other local player inside the top 25 is Willy Pumarol, who shot a 4-under 67 to tie for 17th. Making his 99th career PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start, the 31-year old is hoping to build on last year’s success, when he entered this event’s final round holding the lead before tying for third for his best career Tour finish. Last September, Pumarol was the only local player to make the cut at the PGA TOUR’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship on his way to a tie for 65th at 2-under. That was his first made cut in two PGA TOUR career starts.
Chile’s Cristóbal Del Solar started his Puerto Plata Open title defense with a 3-under 68 to move into a tie for 32nd. The Florida State University alum was at even-par through 14 holes, but put together a trio of birdies between Nos. 15 and 17.
Brazil’s Alexandre Rocha, the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit leader, with 529 points collected in two starts this season, carded a bogey-free 68 to tie for the 32nd. Rocha won the season-opening Estrella del Mar Open, shooting a 72-hole record of 29-under par.
This is how the players inside the Order of Merit top-10 did today at Playa Dorada Golf Course: