SAO PAULO, Brazil – Benjamin Alvarado of Chile started early and finished late on Saturday as the Web.com Tour’s rain-delayed Brasil Classic hurried to get back on schedule. The 27-year-old from Santiago returned to the Sao Paulo Golf Club before sunrise and finished 11 holes of Round 2 before turning back around and completing Round 3 as darkness fell.
The net result of 31 holes – 11 birdies, 0 bogeys and a three-stroke lead heading into Sunday’s finale.
“I’m tired. It was a long day but I played great today,” said Alvarado, who added a 5-under 66 to his partially completed second-round 63 and stands at 17-under 196. “The key today was my putting. Every time I was far from the hole I left the ball very close and every time I had a makeable birdie putt, I did it.”
What he did was play flawless golf on a nearly endless day and move in front of an international leaderboard.
Kevin Kim, a 29-year-old rookie from South Korea, also went dawn to dusk Saturday, finishing at 14 under par after playing 29 holes in 11 under par.
South Africa’s Dawie van der Walt posted a 6-under 65 and moved to 13-under 200 along with former U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee (70) of New Zealand and Sweden’s Richard S. Johnson (70).
Knoxville native Wes Roach rolled in a 45-foot birdie putt on his final hole for a 63 and jumped over a host of others to reach 12 under and solo sixth.
“I want to try and do the same thing tomorrow,” said Alvarado, who has been bogey-free for 45 holes. “I want to try to hit the fairway and leave a 100-yard shot every time. Then, let’s see what happens with the putter. I hope to make everything tomorrow.”
Sunday’s closer may be a little easier for Alvarado, who was a 54-hole co-leader last month at the Chile Classic, which was played in his hometown of Santiago.
“I had a lot of pressure in Chile,” he admitted. “I’ve won many events but those were all small events with 100 people watching. There were a lot of people in Chile. I don’t play very often with that pressure. I had just signed with three sponsors just two weeks before the tournament and they were all watching me along with the media. It was big. I think tomorrow will be different. Today I didn’t have that pressure.”
Kim, making only his fifth career start on Tour, got out of the blocks early when the second round resumed. His hybrid from 228 yards settled three feet from the pin on the par-5 17th hole stopped three feet from the cup and rolled in an eagle putt. He then added a birdie at No. 18, the toughest hole on the course.
“I tried to cut my hybrid around the tree, but I don’t know how it made it on the green,” said Kim. “We couldn’t tell where it landed. Somehow it missed that tree. To make three there and then birdie 18 was another bonus. I know I picked up at least two strokes on the field.”
--While most of the attention is on golf this week, two players in the field are keeping an eye on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Dustin Garza and amateur Rafael Becker are both products of Wichita State University and hoping their Shockers can pull off another upset in Saturday's semifinal against Louisville.
--Becker, who is in his senior season at WSU, was the only amateur to make the cut. He turned 21 on Tuesday, was the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and is a two-time ALL-MVC selection. He opened the 2012-13 season by helping the Shockers capture their home event, the Diet Pepsi Shocker Classic at Wichita Country Club, where he was co-medalist. Prior to his arrival in Wichita, the 6-foot-3 Becker was the No. 1-ranked junior and the No. 2 ranked amateur in Brazil.
--Brice Garnett registered the first official ace of the tournament when he dunked a 9-iron from 161 yards on the par-3 ninth hole. Matt Fast had a pair of holes-in-one during practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday. Garnett also had an eagle-3 at No. 3, making him the first player in the tourney to have two eagles in a single round.
--About 90 minutes after Garnett’s ace, Sweden’s Richard S. Johnson matched it with his own hole-in-one. Johnson also used a 9-iron for his ace, which hit about three directly in front of the cup and bounced in.
--Second-year pro Wes Roach of Knoxville, Tenn., jumped up in the standings Saturday afternoon by matching the course record with an 8-under 63. His bogey-free round capped off a long day that saw him play 14 holes to finish up round two then turn right back around and be in the first group off the tee in Round 3.
“I got off to a good start this morning and then stumbled on the last few holes of the morning round and was kind of eager to get back at it,” said the 2011 Duke grad who was 4-under through 36 and eight shots behind the leaders. “I played more aggressively in the third round for sure. There’s no reason to hold back when you’re trying to win.”
Roach’s 63 put him at 12-under 201, which leaves him solo sixth and five shots off the pace. He made 12 cuts in 21 starts last year and had his best finish late in the year – a tie for fifth at the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open.