Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (September 23, 2013) – In two weeks we will be in Puerto Rico all set to begin the second half of the 2013 NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season. The expectations will rise as our players intensify their preparation in order to be ready for this decisive time of the year.
Seven tournaments in six different countries – Puerto Rico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina – await us to see who will finish in the Order of Merit’s Top 5 and be rewarded with 2014 Web.com Tour.
Over the upcoming three months our players will face the challenge of four new golf courses and they will also get to visit Chile, which is set to make its Tour debut in November.
During our four-month break our members barely rested. They kept practicing hard, playing on several Tours in order to be in shape for this upcoming seven-tournament stretch that could be a big step for their careers.
Mexico’s José de Jesús Rodríguez, our Order of Merit No. 1, excelled on the Mexican Tour collecting a couple of victories in July and September to improve his current season record to four Mexican Tour wins. He carded an opening round 60 to claim his latest win by seven shots at the Campestre de Chihuahua on September 18.
Collecting four top-3 finishes, including a victory at the Roberto De Vicenzo Invitational Copa NEC in Uruguay last April, the man best known as “El Camarón” has been rock solid on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. The 32-year old will enter the final stretch of the season holding a lead of almost $15,000 at the top of the Order of Merit.
Jorge Fernández-Valdés, the 20-year old from Cordoba, Argentina who became our Tour’s youngest champion ever last May at the Mundo Maya Open, is another player we are eager to see back in Latin America. Our current No. 2 enjoyed the experience of playing the PGA TOUR Canada season over the last few months. He made seven cuts in eight starts up North and finished No. 33 in the Order of Merit to keep building his promising professional career.
Although we did not hear much about our No. 3 ranked player Timothy O’Neal overt he break, we know he kept working hard in order to maintain his good pace. The 41-year old from Savannah, Georgia did not miss a cut during a first half of the season in which he also led the Tour with the most birdies made (138). Experience will be on his side, so we’ll see how it goes for him starting at the Puerto Rico Open presented by Merrill Lynch.
Due to a left wrist injury, Mexico’s Oscar Serna was the only top-5 ranked player unable to play over the past few months. Following the Dominican Republic Open in early June he was forced to rest and has resumed practicing and working on his game just recently. Currently ranked No. 4 in the Order of Merit, Serna is registered to play in Puerto Rico and we’ll see him there if his wrist is good enough to compete.
Finally, the man entering this decisive second half of the season ranked No. 5 in the Order of Merit is Colombia’s Manuel Villegas. He made a couple of cuts on the Web.com Tour last month and was in contention at the Cox Classic, an event in which he eventually finished T16. A better finish there would have given him a shot at the Web.com Tour’s Top-100, but instead he finished 108 on the Money List. As the winner of the TransAmerican Power Products CRV Open, the 28-year old from Medellin remains a top contender to watch.
Other Tour members who had a strong PGA TOUR Latinoamérica break were the USA’s Ryan Blaum, who made three starts on the PGA TOUR, Chile’s Hugo León, who finished No. 4 on PGA TOUR Canada to earn his 2014 Web.com Tour card, and the Colombian duo of Oscar Álvarez and Andrés Echavarría, who collected wins on the Colombian Argos Tour.
These and many other players who still have a good chance at cracking the Order of Merit’s top spots are eager to get things going in just a couple of weeks. It promises to be an extremely exciting second half of the season on a Tour that provides that unique flavor that Latin America has to offer.