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Saturday, March 24, 2012

BENEDETTI LEADS US NATIONWIDE TOUR EVENT AT HALFWAY

FROM THE US NATIONWIDE TOUR WEBSITE
By Joe Chemycz, Nationwide Tour staff
BROUSSARD, Louisiana -- Camilo Benedetti just wants to be more consistent. 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 two.
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 T3 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 top10s 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 T72 in fairways hit and T77 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
• Friday's weather: Sunny. Winds NW 5-10 mph. High of 80.
• 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 (T8), withdrew during the second round due to sickness.
• This is the first time in Benedetti's Nationwide Tour that he has held/shared the lead after any single round.
• Benedetti leads the field with 16 birdies. He also leads the field in putts per round with 25.5.
• The 36-hole cut came at 4-under-par 138, the lowest cut in the past nine years of this event
Russell Knox is lying T27 on 136 - seven shots off the pace - after scores of 68-68. It is one of the few cuts he has made this season. Pity he had to drop to the Nationwide Tour to do it.

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