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No. 1 Ariel Cañete

We're counting down the players who finished in the Top-50 on last year's PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Order of Merit. We start with the five players who earned Web.com Tour status.

Ariel Cañete poses with the Roberto De Vicenzo award (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR

At 8:40 am on Wednesday, September 2, 2012, Ariel Cañete hit his first shot off of the 1st tee at the Yucatan Country Club’s, El Jaguar course. He shared the hopes and dreams of the other 132 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica players.

Nearly four months later, his dreams came true and all the hard work he put into his goal of returning to golf’s elite levels had paid off after two wins in eleven events of the inaugural season season, he  earned the number one spot on the Order of Merit.

"It was my goal at the start of the year, but if you would have told me that by year-end I would have my fully-exempt Web.com Tour card I still wouldn’t have believed you,” said the 37 year old Argentine, who was born on the beaches of Santa Teresita in Buenos Aires.

It’s hard to believe this story would have such a happy ending after an opening 73 on that sunny day in Mérida but there were signs the best was yet to come. The next three days gave us a preview of what we would see throughout the 2012 season. The combination of driving accuracy and precise iron shots along with a restored confidence in his putting stroke Ariel Cañete began climbing the first rung of the ladder to stardom. A third round 65 shots gave him hope of pulling out the win in his first event but Tommy Cocha had taken a substantial lead and notched the first win in the history of PGA TOUR Latinoamerica.

He wouldn’t need to wait long to taste victory. The following week in Monterrey he displayed an affinity for the golf course.. "I love the golf course, it makes you think on the tee," he said to told www.pgatourla.com. In a tournament that experienced many rain delays, Cañete remained patient and fired two excellent opening rounds, 67 and 68, which left him in position to take the championship. Sunday was a busy day for the competitors as they had to play 34 holes. Ariel took the 54-hole lead after a 67 in the third round, and a few minutes later came out to play the final round, in which he fired a 68 that allowed him to be the season’s second champion. "It's very exciting to crown your efforts with a win, is a wonderful feeling," he said with the last light of Sunday's fading away behind the Monterrey mountains and the TransAmerican Power Products Open trophy clutched in his hands.

A 24th place finish at the Brazil Open served to improve his position on the Order of Merit, couple that with a final round 66 in Buenos Aires the following week and Canete found himself catapulted him into first place on the Order of Merit, a position he wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the season.

His next event, the Lexus Peru Open, was his only blemish of the season. The winner of the European Tour’s 2007 Joburg Open shot rounds of 73 & 74 and missed the cut.

Canete, whose friends call him “Toro” or Bull continued his charge through the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica season during the Tour’s Carribean swing.  A third place in the Dominican Republic Open and a seventh at the Puerto Rico Classic cemented his position atop the Order of Merit as the Tour headed into its final stretch.

In Cali, he recorded a Top 15 and then, seven days later, he experienced a bit of  deja-vu as he was forced to play another 36 holes on the final day of a tournament and came out with the win. His win, in his beloved Argentina surrounded by family and friends, at the Olivos Golf Classic,  Copa Personal effectively guaranteeing fully exempt status on the 2013 Web.com Tour. "I played very well. Since the Tour started in September I played very consistent, with many rounds under par. I think that helped my confidence so when I get in a position to win, I can be at peace and take advantage of the opportunity."

Cañete arrived at the 107 VISA Open de Argentina in a relaxed position, with his card in his pocket and the realization of his accomplishment. "I worked all year for this moment, I wasn’t keeping track of the Order of Merit, but rather try to focus on my play every week without thinking about numbers and stuff, I think that was the key that got me to this point to have the Roberto De Vicenzo Award in my hands. Ending the season on a high motivates me for what is coming and I can start planning what will be a new stage in my career that I hope will give me the joy that gave me this great year in Latin America."

Click here to view Ariel's statistics and profile:

http://www.pgatourla.com/golfers/300084/results/

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