Although he shot a third-round, 1-over 73, Argentina’s Franco Romero remained atop the leaderboard at the Copa Samsung, the closing event of the 2019 Dev Series, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s development circuit.
Fortunately for the 24-year-old, his difficult third round did not force him out of the lead, and Romero takes the 54-hole advantage at 15-under 201, good for a six-stroke lead over Colombian Juan Pablo Luna.
Luna delivered the lowest score of the day—a 65 at La Planicie Country Club—that allowed him to move up 25 spots on the leaderboard. Tied for third, at 7-under, are American Josh Radcliff (67) and Mexicans Gonzalo Rubio (69) and Patricio Guerra Ibarra (72).
“Today I did not feel the same confidence on the greens. It’s normal to feel pressure even if you have an advantage. The greens were a little harder than the previous days, and this is a field where you can fail very easily. To be honest, I didn’t feel comfortable at times in the round,” said Romero, who has been a professional since 2012.
Romero began with birdie, something he has done in the previous two rounds on the par-4, but that was one of the rare bright spots on the front nine. He made bogeys at Nos. 2, 4, 6, 8 and 9. On the back-nine, Romero was able to counter the poor start by taking advantage of two of the three par-5s that La Planicie offers.
“This is a course in which you must take advantage of the last nine holes. You can give yourself good opportunities if you hit well from the tee. I did birdie at 10 and 12, and from there I tried to play strategically,” added Romero, who has played 75 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournaments between 2012 and 2019. “I have a good chance of winning [Sunday], and that motivates me.”
In sixth place is American Jason Thresher, who is nine strokes of Romero’s lead. The former Abierto OSDE del Centro champion, American Anthony Paolucci is tied for seventh with compatriot Matt Hutchins. Also tied for seventh are Ecuadorians José Andrés Miranda and Juan Moncayo, Colombian David Vanegas (also a former PGA TOUR Latinoamérica winner) and Mexicans Álvaro Ortiz and Rodolfo Cazaubón, the 2015 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Player of the Year.
Ignacio Sosa Quiroga turned in the shot of the day. The Argentine made albatross on the par-5 10th hole. He hit driver from the tee and then with a 6-iron put the ball in the cup from 192 yards.
Final-round tee times begin at 8:15 a.m., Sunday, with threesomes going off both the first and 10th tees. The leaders—Romero, Luna and Radcliff—tee off at 10:25 a.m.
The-top 20 players at the conclusion of play Sunday will get status for the 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. Those who finish in the top five earn exempt status for the whole year, while those Nos. 6-10 will be exempt for the first half of the season. The remaining 10 players are awarded conditional status.