Benedetti leads Pappas by one after 63 in second round of Louisiana Open

By news services

Series: Tour

Published: Friday, March 23, 2012 | 10:03 p.m.

Camilo Benedetti just wants to be more consistent on the Nationwide Tour this season. The 32-year-old from Colombia says he wants to focus on the process in 2012 instead of the results. So far, so good for Benedetti, who carded an 8-under 63 in the second round of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open to grab the 36-hole lead.

Benedetti's focus has turned into results at the Le Triomphe Country Club, where he has posted a career-best 13-under 129 total and holds the lead for the first time in his Nationwide Tour career. The former Florida Gator rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the final hole Friday afternoon to wrestle the halfway lead away from South Africa's Brenden Pappas, who shot his own 63 on Thursday and backed it up with a 67 in Round 2.


The Chitimacha Louisana Open joined the Nationwide Tour back in 1992 as the Ben Hogan Louisiana Open.

Six players -- Rob Oppenheim, Casey Wittenberg, Doug Barron, Paul Claxton, Joe Durant and Adam Hadwin -- are knotted at 10-under 132 and tied for third.

Patrick Sheehan and first-day co-leader Will MacKenzie are four back and round out the top 10.

"My only goal is to stay consistent," said Benedetti, who has improved his standing on the money list each of the past five seasons. "If I can play consistent the whole time, I can finish top 10 or top 20. It's really nice to see how things are progressing."

Things went nicely for Benedetti who never went more than three holes on Friday without adding another birdie to his total.

"I was just cruising along," he said after his 24-putt effort. "It's not that it was easy, but I guess it looked easier because everything was going my way, hitting good shots and making good putts."

A lot of good putts, including one he didn't make at the par-3 11th hole.

"I hit it to about eight feet and hit a great putt but it didn't break," he said. "In my mind I made birdie there, too."

Well, had he actually rolled it in, he would have been a perfect 5-for-5 on the par 3s.

"I gave myself a lot of chances and I made some and missed a couple," he said. "I kept being aggressive when I needed to and kept being conservative when I wanted to."

The net result is a one-stroke lead heading into the weekend. This is Benedetti's 111th career start on Tour and his best finish was a tie for third at the 2010 Albertsons Boise Open. A year ago, he made 18 cuts in 23 starts and had eight top-25 finishes, but only a pair of top-10s, and wound up No. 35 on the final money list.

"I gave myself a lot of chances last year, especially towards the end of the year, and I didn't quite capitalize on those on the weekends," he said. "That's one of my goals this year. My approach has been more focus-related. The results will come."

Pappas has seen some pretty good results despite not hitting the ball very well for two days. The former Arkansas Razorback is tied for 72nd in fairways hit and tied for 77th in greens in regulation, but has rolled in a ton of putts, including five of better than 35 feet in Thursday's opener.

"You try not to think about yesterday because it's an isolated incident," he said. "It's history."

Second-Round Notes:

--Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for the first round and second round.

--Phil Schmitt withdrew prior to the start of the second round. Carl Paulson withdrew during the round due to a wrist injury. Santiago's Benjamin Alvarado, a top-25 qualifier from the Chile Classic two weeks ago, withdrew during the second round due to sickness.

--Brenden Pappas' 130 total matches the lowest 36-hole score of his Nationwide Tour career. Pappas posted rounds of 63-67--130 (-12) in the first two rounds of the 2007 Albertsons Boise Open.

--This is the first time in Benedetti's Nationwide Tour career that he has held/shared the lead after any single round. Benedetti's 129 total is two better than his previous best on Tour. He had a 131 total (9-under) after the opening two rounds of the 2007 Fort Smith Classic.

--Joe Durant is at 10-under 132 and tied for third heading into the weekend. This is the first cut that Durant has made on the Nationwide Tour since the 1996 Tour Championship -- a span of nearly 15 1/2 years. Durant finished third on the 1996 money list and graduated to the PGA Tour.

--Since the '96 Tour Championship, Durant has made 238 cuts in 392 starts on the PGA Tour, collecting four titles (most recent -- 2006 FUNAI Classic at Disney World) and earning $13,380,004, Durant's only Nationwide Tour starts in that span came at the 2009 WNB Golf Classic (MCc) and the 2010 Stadion Classic at UGA (MC).

--Rob Oppenheim is making his 60th career start on the Nationwide Tour. He is coming off his career-best finish two weeks ago at the Chile Classic (tied for fourth) in Santiago.

--Veteran Paul Claxton fired his second consecutive bogey-free round, a 6-under 65. Claxton (-10) has now had four bogey-free rounds in his last six on Tour. He finished third at the Chile Classic two weeks ago and had bogey-free rounds in the first and third rounds. Claxton leads the field in greens in regulation (32 of 36) this week.

--Benedetti birdied four of the five par-3s in the second round. He birdied two of the par 3s in the opening round. He leads the field with 16 birdies, and leads in putts per round with 25.5.

--Luke List leads the field in average driving distance (313.3 yards). Joe Durant, Russell Knox, Fernando Mechereffe and Andrew Svoboda led the field in driving accuracy (22 of 26/84.62%). Brad Fritsch leads the field in greens in regulation (33 of 36/91/7%)

--Phillip Pettitt Jr. aced the 150-yard eighth hole. Pettitt used a 9-iron for his hole-in-one. Pettitt's ace is the 17th in tournament history. The last one was by Andrew Svoboda during the second round last year, also at No. 8. PGA Sectional qualifier Tim Yelverton of West Point, Miss., also aced No. 8 using a 9-iron.

--The two aces today at No. 8 mark the first time in the 21-year tournament history that there have been two holes-in-one on the same hole in the same round. Once before, in 2003, there were two aces in the second round but those came on different holes -- Doug LaBelle, No. 3 and Ted Purdy, No. 8.

--Canada's Adam Hadwin had a pair of eagles en route to matching the day's best score -- an 8-under 63. Hadwin eagled a pair of par 5s (Nos. 7, 12).

--The 36-hole cut came at 4-under-par 138, the lowest cut in the past nine years of this event. Only four players made the cut while shooting an over-par score in one of the two rounds: Brad Adamonis (65-72), Stephen Gangluff (65-72), Brett Wetterich (64-73) and Michael Letzig (66-72).

--Brenden Pappas owns the course record -- an 11-under 60 in the opening round in 2007. Three other players have carded 11-under scores but those were all 61s. David Lebeck did it in 2001, Mike Heinen did it in 2002 and Wes Short did it in 2003. The course underwent a redesign in 2003 with movement of bunkers and tees and the par-72 was eventually changed to a par-71 for the 2006 tournament.

-- The most difficult hole through two rounds is the 485-yard 14th hole. The scoring average was 4.248 Friday and 4.361 Thursday.

--The Nationwide Tour will take next week off before heading to California for two consecutive weeks. The next stop will be in San Jacinto, Calif. (near Palm Springs) for the Soboba Golf Classic at The Country Club at Soboba Springs April 2-8.