COZUMEL, Mexico – Winning three out of five matches on Thursday during the opening four-ball session of the Go Vacaciones Cozumel Cup presented by ASSIST CARD, the team from PGATOUR Latinoamérica took a 3-2 lead over the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada.
PGATOUR Latinoamérica both began and ended the day with a bang, as Matt Gilchrest and Austin Smotherman led the day off with a commanding 4&2 victory over Danny Walker and Zach Wright, while the final match of the day saw Ben Polland and playing-captain Harry Higgs take down Ian Holt and Ben Griffin 4&3.
“Ben and I both played well today,” said Higgs, who is fresh off earning PGATOUR Latinoamérica Player of the Year honors last week, exempting him on the Web.com Tour in 2019. “We just did a good job where holes he didn’t play well, I played well, and when I didn’t play well, he played well, which is key in this format.”
Meanwhile, the players on the Mackenzie Tour team may be breathing a slight sigh of relief, as at the midway point of the day things were looking much dire with four blue numbers on the board.
It was the efforts of playing-captain Sam Fidone and George Cunningham, players six and two respectively on the 2018 Order of Merit, that ended up giving the Mackenzie Tour the key second point.
“We were two-down pretty early, but we were down to a good birdie putt and an eagle putt,” said Fidone, who won the Bayview Place DCBank Open on the Mackenzie Tour this season. “We knew we had to stay patient, so we just ham and egged it for a while and I got a little hot coming in, making a good birdie on 17 to shut the match out.”
The first point of the day for the Mackenzie Tour came from Blake Olson and Michael Gellerman, who is still riding the high of a T3 finish at the Final Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School last weekend, as the duo took down Eric Steger and Horacio León 3&2.
“We got off to a good start, both making birdie on one, and we birdied three, so we were quickly up three which always puts a lot of pressure on the other team,” said Gellerman, who played an event using the exact same format as a junior in a Kansas vs. Nebraska competition. “I didn’t play as well on the back, but Blake kept us in it and I was fortunate enough to make birdie on 16 to close it out.”
Only one match made it to hole-18 on Thursday. Corey Pereira stuffed his tee shot at the par-3 17th hole to 6-feet, dropping it in the side door with an emphatic fist pump to head into the 18th hole trailing by one.
On 18, partner Mark Anguiano had a 15-foot birdie try that would have halved the match; however, it slid just by, giving Michael Buttacavoli and Tyson Alexander their team’s third point of the day.
The Go Vacaciones Cozumel Cup presented by ASSIST CARD will resume Friday morning with foursome matches beginning at 8:15 a.m.
Day One Results – Four-Ball
PGA TOUR Latinoamérica 3 vs. Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada 2
Match 1 – Austin Smotherman and Matt Gilchrest (PGA TOUR Latinoamérica) defeated Danny Walker and Zach Wright (Mackenzie Tour), 4 and 2
Match 2 – Blake Olson and Michael Gellerman (Mackenzie Tour) defeated Eric Steger and Horacio León (PGA TOUR Latinoamérica), 3 and 2
Match 3 Michael Buttacavoli and Tyson Alexander (PGA TOUR Latinoamérica) defeated Mark Anguiano and Corey Pereira (Mackenzie Tour), 1-up
Match 4 – George Cunningham and Sam Fidone (Mackenzie Tour) defeated Nicolás Echavarría and Marcelo Rozo (PGA TOUR Latinoamérica), 2 and 1
Match 5 – Harry Higgs and Ben Polland (PGA TOUR Latinoamérica) defeated Ian Holt and Ben Griffin (Mackenzie Tour), 4 and 3
Friday’s foursome matches:
Match 6 – 8:15 A.M.: Nicolás Echavarría and Marcelo Rozo (PGATOUR Latinoamérica) vs. Ben Griffin and Ian Holt (Mackenzie Tour)
Match 7 – 8:25A.M.: Matt Gilchrest and Austin Smotherman (PGATOUR Latinoamérica) vs. George Cunningham and Zach Wright (Mackenzie Tour)
Match 8 – 8:35 A.M.: Ben Polland and Harry Higgs (PGATOUR Latinoamérica) vs. Corey Pereira and Danny Walker (Mackenzie Tour)
Match 9 – 8:45 A.M.: Horacio León and Eric Steger (PGATOUR Latinoamérica) vs. Blake Olson and Mark Anguiano (Mackenzie Tour)
Match 10 – 8:55 A.M.: Tyson Alexander and Michael Buttacavoli (PGATOUR Latinoamérica) vs. Sam Fidone and Michael Gellerman (Mackenzie Tour)
– Weather: 28 degrees Celsius, winds at 28 km/h
– The Mackenzie Tour won the Aruba Cup in 2017, while the PGATOUR Latinoamérica claimed the trophy in 2016.
– Secrets Aura is serving as the host hotel for the Go Vacaciones Cozumel Cup.
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