Castro Leads Wichita Open Going Into Weekend

By: PGA Email
By: PGA Email

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Even though he had just polished off a second-round 63 that followed a 7-under 64 in the first round, Roberto Castro was quick to point out that, "It's always hard to back up a low number with another low number."

You wouldn't know that by watching Castro. The Georgia Tech graduate, who earned a spot in the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open this week after having a top-25 finish at last week's Cox Classic, played his second consecutive bogey-free round at Crestview Country Club and enters the third round with a two-shot lead over Steven Bowditch and Scott Gutschewski. Dan Buchner and first-round leader Matt Davidson are tied for fourth.

In limited Nationwide Tour action this season, Castro seems to play better each week. He tied for 54th in April at the Fresh Express Classic at TPC Stonebrae in California's Bay Area and tied for 19th last week in Omaha after getting into that tournament as a Monday qualifier. In between, he's been toiling on the eGolf Professional Tour, where he won the Savannah Quarters Classic in Georgia in February. Castro is third on the eGolf Tour money list, with a little more than $64,000 in earnings.

In three seasons on that Tour, Castro has won four tournaments, while also squeezing in Nationwide Tour events when he qualified. In 2009, Castro played in five Nationwide Tour events, with a tie for sixth at the Chattanooga Classic his best-career performance, again after he Monday qualified.

"The nice, cool thing about the Nationwide Tour is Mondaying into tournaments," said Castro, making up words as he went. "But it's not easy to do."

After the 64 Thursday at the par-71 Crestview Country Club, Castro hoped to get off to another quick start in the second round. Yet four consecutive pars to start his round Friday seemed to derail that plan -- even though he had birdie putts on each hole. Castro jump-started his round on his fifth hole of the day, the par-5 14th. "I hit an 8-iron to about 10 feet, but I had a weird lie against the collar," he said about the hole he eventually birdied. "That 10-footer for birdie helped a lot and seemed to take the lid off and got me rolling." Castro made a 5-footer for birdie on the next hole and made birdie on his seventh hole (the 16th) and another on his ninth. Suddenly he was 3-under for the day and 10-under for the tournament. Four birdies on his final nine made for a nice bookend to the four birdies on his first nine holes.

Davidson likes his position heading into the weekend. "I look at this round separately than [Thursday's]," he said of his 4-under 67. "I didn't drive the ball as well and didn't have as many chances. It's still early, and we're only halfway there. There's a long way to go."

Castro's success this week shouldn't be surprising. The native of Alpharetta, Ga., had a celebrated amateur career at Georgia Tech. He won the 2007 Byron Nelson Award that honors that honors the top senior college golfer, he earned All-American honors and was a two-time U.S. Palmer Cup member. He also has good bloodlines. Although his father doesn't play golf, both his uncles -- Percy and Alex Lidback -- played collegiately at LSU, and his aunt, Jenny Lidback, was a 15-year LPGA veteran who won the 1989 du Maurier Ltd. Classic, at the time a LPGA major championship.

As he takes his lead into the third round, Castro knows what he's up against.

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