WINTER GARDEN, FL – Cesar Monasterio (Buenos Aires, Argentina) fired a 6-under-par 66 and opened a two-stroke lead over Frank Esposito (Monroe, NJ) after two rounds of the 2014 Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament at Orange County National (Panther Lake Course). Monasterio has a 36-hole total of 7-under-par 137.
Competitors were again faced with less-than-ideal weather conditions early in the day. Prior to the start of play, early morning wind-chill temperatures were in the upper-20s but temperatures and conditions did improve as the day progressed reaching the upper-50s in the afternoon. Winds were again from the north at 10-20 mph with occasional higher gusts. Temperatures overnight are expected to be in the low-40s, climbing into the upper-60s in the afternoon.
Monasterio, the 2014 European Senior Tour Rookie of the Year, got off to a fast start on Wednesday, going birdie-eagle on his first two holes. He followed with a three-putt bogey on the next hole, but from then on his card was bogey-free and it also included back-to-back birdies on Nos. 6 and 7 and on Nos. 13 and 14.
His 6-under-par 66 shared honors for the day’s low round with Jeff Freeman.
“I was very focused on my game today and I putted really well. That was the key for me,” said Monasterio. “It was a little easier playing today than yesterday. The cold made it very difficult to play yesterday. I don’t like cold weather.”
The 50-year-old Monasterio competed on the European Senior Tour this year, finishing fifth on the Order of Merit with a win at the English Senior Open and a pair of second-place finishes. In winning the Rookie of the Year honors, he became just the second South American to win the award since it was launched in 1998, after Brazilian Priscillo Diniz in 2000.
Esposito is coming off his victory at last week’s Senior PGA Professional National Championship.
“I played solid today and made most of the putts I needed to make. I missed a three-footer for birdie at No. 16, but other than that, I played nicely,” said Esposito, a club professional at Brooklake Country Club in New Jersey. “That win last week helps your confidence, but still every day in golf is different. If you told me before the start I’d be where I am I’d be happy.”
There will be no cut in the 72-hole qualifier. At the end of four rounds, the top-five finishers earn fully-exempt status through the re-order in the 2015 season, while the next seven players will be conditionally exempt. In addition, the top-30 finishers and ties will be eligible to compete for spots in open qualifiers at all co-sponsored events on the Champions Tour in 2015.
Q-School Notes: With cooler temperatures on tap for Thursday morning, officials moved the start times back again from 8:15 a.m. to 10 a.m… Jeff Freeman, who was the medalist at this event in 2011, made the day’s biggest move. After shooting a 4-over-par 76 on Tuesday, he rebounded with a 6-under-par 66 and moved from T48 to T3…Chien Soon Lu and Rod Spittle, who shared the first-round lead, shot 1-over-par 73s, while fellow co-leaders Jeff Coston and Doug Rohrbaugh posted 2-over-par 74s. Lu and Spittle are T3, while Coston and Rohrbaugh are T6…After the field averaged 74.974 on Tuesday; the average dropped more than a stroke to 73.882…Esposito and John Riegger lead all players with eight birdies…Monasterio is 6-under-par on the par-5 holes so far.