MERIDA, Mexico (May 19, 2013) - Argentina's Jorge Fernandez Valdes handled the pressure of multiple players to become champion of the Mundo Maya Open on Sunday afternoon. En route to his long awaited first win as a professional, Fernandez-Valdes became the youngest winner in the history of the NEC Series PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
The young Argentine Champion, with 20 years, 9 months and 13 days old, surpassed the mark set by compatriot Tommy Cocha, who coincidentally won this same event in September last year while being only seven months older.
Leading by two shots at the start of the day, Fernandez-Valdes shot a 1-over 73 to prevail by one at The Jaguar's Yucatan Country Club course. His total for the week at the 7,344-yard layout designed by Jack Nicklaus was 11-under 277.
"Actually I'm very happy for this win. I think I worked hard to get it and would not have been possible without the support of my team and my family. If my family have not trusted me and gave me this opportunity to play golf this would not have been possible," said the player who many know as “Jorgito” from his successful years as a young golfer.
In another day of strong breeze and heat, Fernandez-Valdes made an early bogey at No. 2 to fall into a tie with Texan Liam Logan, and soon became part of a three-way tie for the lead.
Having played in the last group on two previous occasions, at the Puerto Rico Open in October and at the Abierto Mexicano last March, proved valuable. "These experiences have been very good and have added so much to my golf. I think that was positive and influenced the way I approach things," he said.
Jorge remained calm and with birdies at Nos. 5, 8, and 11, managed to take some advantage from rivals like Colombian Manuel Villegas, Puerto Rican Rafael Campos and Mexican Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, who were among those attacking.
His advantage went to five shots and it looked as if he was en route to an easy win, but he made bogeys at Nos. 12, 15 and 17 to get to the final hole one shot ahead of Mexican Armando Villareal, who birdied 16 and 17. His two putts for par on 18 were enough to enjoy his biggest moment.
"I knew I had a confortable margin of shots, but I tried to not think about the score, I tried to stay focus and try to do my best in every shot. I kept thinking positive that things went well and did not see much the leader board," he said about the crucial final stretch.
With the $27,000 for the win, the Argentine advanced from eighth to second in the Order of Merit with $46,730 after four top 10s in six tournaments on the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica.
Second place went for Mexican Armando Villareal, who shot 71 and was the surprising best local player at the tournament. American Gunner Wiebe (68), Mexico's Jose de Jesus Rodriguez (70) and Colombian Manuel Villegas (72) tied for third, two shots back.
Overcast. The wind blew at about 24 km / h from the east and southeast. The maximum temperature was 37 ° Celsius.
Youngest winners on Tour
1. Jorge Fernández-Valdés, won the 2013 Mundo Maya Open 2013 at the age of 20 years, 9 months and 13 days.
2. Tommy Cocha, won the 2012 Mundo Maya Open at the age of 21 years, 4 months and 13 days.
3. Sebastián Vázquez, won the 2012 Puerto Rio Classic at the age of 22 years and 11 days.
A pro since May 2011 and competing this week with a sponsor's exemption, the Mexican took full advantage of this opportunity and finished solo second. He's 24 and was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, and resides in Dallas, Texas.
This week he had his coach Rich Barcelo as a caddie, who has experience on the PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour, winning in 2009. He started the final round near the top but a double bogey at 10 left him far back. A birdie on 11 and then two more at 16 and 17 put some pressure on Fernandez-Valdes, but it wasn’t enough.
Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
“Camaron” continues to demonstrate why he is the leader of "Los Cinco." In the Mundo Maya Open he got his fourth consecutive top 3 of the season. Rodriguez signed a final card of 70 to get within two of the winner. He made a great comeback as he opened the tournament with a 74.
The winner of the Roberto De Vicenzo Invitational made four birdies in the first 10 holes that allowed him to dream about winning at the Yucatan Country Club. Bogeys on 12 and 13 slowed him down, but a double bogey on the par-3 15th ended his chances.
Two eagles in a row
After shooting 3 over on the first nine, the American Gunner Wiebe rebounded with a brilliant 29 on the back nine. His move to the top included two eagles on holes 13 and 14. At 13, a par 5 of 548 yards, he hit a 4-iron from 220 yards and holed a putt from around 20 feet, while at 14, a par 4 of 405 yards, Wiebe hit a perfect drive and holed his second shot with a sand wedge from 135 yards. On the back nine he also made birdies at 10, 11, 16 and 18, with a lone bogey at 17.
For Wiebe, the son of Mark Wiebe, two-time winner on the PGA TOUR and three-time winner on the Champions Tour, this has been by far his best finish on his rookie season. "It was a weird year. I've been playing well, but my scores were not low enough, but I knew that I was going in the right direction and doing what I did today it was good to know that hard work is paying off some, " said the 24-year-old, a graduate of the University of San Diego and professional since 2011.
Best round of the day
66 (-6) Ryan Blaum (USA)
R1: Manuel Villegas, Colombia 65 (-7) Azcué Mauritius, Mexico 69 (-3)
R2: Liam Logan (USA) 67 (-5)
R3: Oscar Serna (MEX) 69 (-3)
The next event on the schedule is the Dominican Republic Open, May 29-June 1. For the second year it will be held at the Cana Bay Golf Club in Punta Cana, Dominica Republic. This will be the seventh and final tournament of the first half of the 2013 season.