Nitties, Parel share lead in Chile
Santiago, Chile (Sports Network) - James Nitties and Scott Parel both fired seven-under 65s on Thursday to take the lead after one round of the Chile Classic, a new event on the Nationwide Tour.
Nitties made seven birdies -- including five on his front nine -- to grab a share of first, while Parel used an eagle to get to his low number at Prince of Wales Country Club.
Nitties and Parel sit one shot in front of four players who carded six-under 66s -- Hudson Swafford, Alex Prugh, Dawie van der Walt and Ryan Hietala. Carlos Franco, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, is among a group of six tied for seventh at five-under.
Nitties was one of the first players to tee off Thursday and set the early standard thanks to a fantastic front nine. He made birdies at two, four, six, eight and nine to make the turn at five-under.
While the Australian didn't gain strokes with the same frequency on the back nine, he didn't give any up. Birdies at 12 and 18 got Nitties into the clubhouse at minus-seven and put him in good position to contend for his second Nationwide Tour victory. Nitties won the Midwest Classic last year.
"It's quite tight out there. You miss a shot a little bit and you're in the middle of a massive sprout tree," said Nitties. "All you have to do is hit the fairways out here. It's not the longest golf course. As long as you get the ball in the fairway, you've got a chance to do something special."
Of course, in order to contend for his second tour victory, Nitties will have to stay away from the sprout trees and avoid the kind of slip-up he endured last week at the Panama Claro Championship.
After opening with a 69, he stumbled to an eight-over 78 and missed the cut. Nitties didn't make the cut in either of the first two Nationwide events this year.
Parel began his round from the 10th tee and got into red numbers with birdies at 12, 14 and 15. He then eagled the 18th to climb toward Nitties heading around the turn, and a birdie at the first got him closer.
Parel stumbled to a bogey at the next hole, but got the stroke right back at the third. A birdie at the seventh put Parel into a tie for first.
"I got a lot of good breaks today," Parel said. "I hit the ball really well but a couple times when I did miss, I got pretty lucky, and that happened a couple of times. But that has to happen sometimes to play a really good round of golf."
Juan Cerda, a teenage amateur from Santiago, carded a one-under 71 and is tied for 60th. Cerda won the Junior Orange Bowl International Golf Championship this past December.
NOTES: This week's event is the first PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament to be held in Chile...Skip Kendall, who won the season-opening Colombia Championship, posted two double-bogeys in a round of five-over 77.
03/08 18:56:01 ET