QUITO, Ecuador—Garett Reband of the U.S. fired a moving-day-low 64 to take control at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s 2023 Kia Open. The PGA TOUR University alum from the University of Oklahoma moved to 15-under 201 to open a three-shot lead over fellow U.S. player Beau Breault, who carded a 66 to stand solo second, at 12-under.
Armando Favela of Mexico, the 36-hole leader by one shot, carded a 70 to slip into a tie for third with countryman Alvaro Ortiz, who posted a 67, and first-round leader Toni Hakula of Finland, who moved back into contention by firing a 65.
Making a costly double bogey on his last hole left Alex Scott of the U.S. in solo-sixth, at 10-under. Seven other players share the seventh spot, six strokes behind Reband’s leading pace, including Ecuador’s Juan Moncayo. He recorded his third consecutive 69 in front of a cheerful crowd that provided its support at the Quito Tennis & Golf Club.
“It was a great day. I found a little something on the range earlier before I went off and teed, and I stuck with that same feeling all day and it worked out really well,” said Reband, 23, who entered the day trailing by two shots in a tie for third.
Although there’s nothing boring in a bogey-free 64, Reband called his eight-birdie performance boring. “It’s funny how those boring rounds turn into that sometimes. A lot of fairways, a lot of greens and then (I) made a few putts in there, which turned into 8-under,” said Reband.
After making his first birdie of the day at the third, one that settled him down early, Reband caught fire halfway through the round. A streak of four consecutive birdies, starting on No. 7, took him to the top of the leaderboard as he moved to 12-under.
“I knew I had to stay patient. I hit a lot of good shots, (Nos.) 4 through 6, but I didn’t get rewarded for them,” said Reband, who followed an easy birdie on No. 7 with a chip-in birdie a hole later after a poor third shot to keep the momentum going. He added birdies on 12 and 14 to pull away and had a huge break at the par-5 17th.
“I’ve been hitting a draw all week, and it should have set me up pretty well, but I haven’t felt really comfortable over the 17th tee shot. I pulled a 5-wood in the trees early, and it happened to kick out in the fairway, which was a huge relief, and then I got it out in the fairway and gave me a chance for birdie. I didn’t make it, but I had that chance,” he explained right after he closed the day with a birdie at the par-4 18th.
The player from York, South Carolina, came into this week having missed the cut in all four of his starts this PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season.
“I could see the game finally starting to move in the right direction last week, even though I didn’t play that well. Then this week I felt comfortable as soon as I stepped on the course on Monday,” added Reband, who indicated he hasn’t had any issues with the significant altitude here, a city in the middle of the mountains, at 9,350 feet above sea level.
In Sunday’s last group, Reband will play with Breault and Hakula. They are scheduled to start at 11:48 a.m. local time at the Quito Tennis & Golf Club.
Did you know Garett Reband spent a year and a half on the Korn Ferry Tour before joining PGA TOUR Latinoamérica this season? Coming out of the University of Oklahoma, he finished fifth on the PGA TOUR University to earn status on the Korn Ferry Tour halfway through the 2021 season. He tied for 19th at Final Stage of Q-School to secure his card for the 2022 season but made only nine cuts in 22 starts, eventually losing lost his card at the next level. Reband has made 29 career Korn Ferry Tour starts.