Golf: Grey Goose Par 3 Championship Underway

March 11, 2016

Rafael Becker had a pretty busy week on the golf course. On Tuesday he was part of a small group of Brazilian golfers to test the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janerio and on Friday he played a bogey-free 3-under-par 51 round at the Turtle Hill Golf Club in Bermuda to lead the Grey Goose World Par 3 Championship.

The 24-year-old from Sao Paulo, Brazil sits atop a Grey Goose World Par 3 Championship leaderboard that features former Ryder Cup players; past PGA and European Tour winners and a smattering of talented golfers from around the globe.

“This is the first time I’ve every played in this event and it’s been amazing so far,” Becker admitted. “Bermuda is a paradise island and this golf course is incredible with pristine rolling greens.”

Becker’s opening round featured a back-nine 24 with birdies at 10, 15 and 18.

“On 10 I made a 15-footer and it was nice to see one drop which gave me a little momentum,” Becker said. “Then I made another one on 15 and made a 25-footer for birdie on the last hole, so that was a little cherry on top.”

If all goes to plan on Saturday in Bermuda, his week could get a whole lot better too. However, it won’t be easy with cast of impressive names hot on his heels.

Local favourite and former player Michael Sims, along with the PGA of Canada’s Ed Maunder and American Zack Byrd lurk one-shot back at 2 under. Last year’s winner Thomas Curtis is at 1 under, with the likes of Barry Lane, Chip Beck and Mark Mouland part of a group of players at even par. In total, there’s total of 28 players within five shots of the lead heading into the final round tomorrow at Turtle Hill.

For the full leaderboard and Saturday’s final round tee times, click here.

Some might think Becker could be nervous heading into the final round. But, this isn’t his first rodeo. The Wichita State University grad captured three-consecutive Brazilian Amateur Championships; he’ in his fourth year on the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica and is a former champion of his country’s national open—which he captured in wild fashion thanks to a final round 62—in 2014.

With his impressive pedigree, it’s probably not best to sleep on the kid.

“I really like how I’m playing out here,” he said. “I’m confident in myself, my game and I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow.”

In addition to the professionals in the championship, the 150-player field is rounded out by an impressive list of amateur golfers—from Bermuda, the United States, Canada and Europe—vying for titles in the men’s, women’s and senior amateur divisions.

Canadian TJ Rule leads the men’s amateur division after an opening round score of even par. Bermudians Jevon Roberts and Mark Phillips are three and four shots back. In the women’s amateur division, Tariqah Walikraam leads by a shot over fellow Bermuda-native Ebonie Burgess. Craig Christensen of Bermuda leads the men’s senior division by three shots over Canadian Joe Cupido.

Earlier in the week Becker was one of nine Brazilians selected to play in the 2016 Aquece Rio Golf Challenge,” the 18-hole exhibition event was the first competitive round played at the Gil Hanse designed course where golf will make its return to the Olympics next August.

The former Wichita State University grad said the experience was amazing.

“It was something special that’s for sure,” Becker said. “The golf course is magnificent—Gil Hanse did a remarkable job.

“The International Golf Federation really wanted our opinion on the golf course and set up. All nine of us pretty much had the same thing to say: the golf course is great, but they’ll have to watch the setup depending on the wind because August is the windiest month of the year in Rio and the golf course is basically right on the beach.”

Past champions of the Grey Goose World Par 3 Championship include Bermudian Daniel Augustus, PGA Tour winner Nick Taylor, PGA of Canada member Ian Doig, American Jordan Mitchell, Mark Mouland of the European Senior Tour and Thomas Curtis.

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