BOGOTA, COLOMBIA – OCTOBER 29, 2013.
For the second time this season the NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica is in Colombia. This week’s event is the Arturo Calle Colombian Classic presented by Avianca, which begins on Thursday at the San Andrés Golf Club. This is one of only five tournaments left to play this season.
- October 28 – November 3
- San Andrés Golf Club
- Bogota, Colombia
- 2012 champion: Sebastián Fernández, Argentina
- This is the tenth event on the Tour’s 14-tournament schedule
- Field: http://www.pgatourla.com/entries/m2013013/?lg=en#.Um7UnRYx_zI
- Hashtag: #ColombianClassic
A step closer to the Web.com Tour. This week’s PGA TOUR Latinoamérica competitors will be battling for position to earn exemptions into the Web.com Tour’s Qualifying Tournament. Those finishing this tournament ranked 1 through 10 in the Order of Merit will be exempt into the Final Stage of Qualifying, while players ranked 11 through 20 will be exempt into Second Stage. The slim gap between players ranked 10 through 22 will add drama to the race for these spots. The Web.com Tour Qualifying Finals will be played in La Quinta, Calif. Dec. 12-17.
This week’s field. Based on tournament entries as of Tuesday morning, there are 138 players from 19 countries competing for the title. Players by country: Colombia (40), United States (28), Argentina (25), Mexico (11), Venezuela (7), Chile (6), Brazil (3), Canada (3), Dominican Republic (2), Panama (2), Peru (2), Spain (2), Australia (1), Bolivia (1), Ecuador (1), Guatemala (1), Ireland (1), Puerto Rico (1) and Uruguay (1).
NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica champions in the field. At 13, this will be the event with the most PGA TOUR Latinoamérica champions ever in the same field. The champions who have made the trip to Bogota this week are: Colombia’s Manuel Villegas; Argentina’s Jorge Fernández-Valdés, Alan Wagner, Sebastián Fernández, Matías O’Curry and Tommy Cocha; Mexico’s José de Jesús Rodríguez and Sebastián Vázquez; Peru’s Sebastián Salem and the United States’ Ryan Blaum, Ryan Sullivan, Timothy O’Neal and Ted Purdy.
Race for Order of Merit top spot heats up. After collecting five top-10 finishes in a row, including a victory and four top-3 finishes, the Tour’s Order of Merit No. 1 José de Jesús Rodríguez has finished T37 and T23 in his last two starts. The Mexican’s lead is down to less than $7,000 over the United States’ Blaum, who has won two of the last three events on the schedule. “The goal is to catch José. He had a great spring and he deserves that No. 1 spot right now. (I just need to) keep playing solid and whatever happens the rest of the year happens,” 30-year old Blaum said after winning the 60th Aberto do Brasil nine days ago in Rio de Janeiro.
U.S. players on the attack. This year the competitors coming from the United States have started to dominate after failing to win any Tour events last season. The U.S. players have won five out of ten events this season, including the last three in a row. Florida’s Blaum leads the way with two wins and is currently ranked No. 2 in the Order of Merit.
Manuel Villegas, the leading Colombian. Last March Villegas became the first Colombian player to win a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event by claiming the TransAmerican Power Products CRV Open in Guadalajara, Mexico. Villegas, 28, has kept a good pace and enters this week ranked No. 5 among “Los Cinco.” He is definitely one to watch among 40 Colombian players who will be battling for the title. The Tour has had three events in the past here in Colombia, with two winners coming from Argentina and one from the United States.
Julio Vegas receives sponsor exemption. Venezuela’s Julio Vegas, a member of the University of Texas team that won the 2012 NCAA Championship, received a sponsor’s exemption and will be making his first PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start this week. The 25-year old from Maturin, Venezuela turned pro just a few weeks ago and is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Jhonattan, winner of the 2011 Humana Challenge on the PGA TOUR. Julio made his first start as a pro during the first stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament two weeks ago and he failed to advance by one shot at The Woodlands in Texas.
PGA TOUR Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes to make first Latinoamérica start. After finishing the PGA TOUR Canada season as the Order of Merit No. 1 last month, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes is set to make his first PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start. As Canada’s No. 1, the 23-year old has already secured fully-exempt status on the Web.com Tour for 2014. Hughes collected three top-3 finishes in nine starts, including a victory at the Cape Breton Celtic Classic. Before turning pro he won the Canadian Amateur Championship in 2011 and 2012. The other PGA TOUR Canada graduate making his Latinoamérica debut this week is No. 5 Will Collins.
Defending champion arrives in good shape. After winning this event in a playoff last November in Cali, Sebastián Fernández of Argentina has not finished better than T17 in his last eleven Tour starts. However, he picked up at the right time winning the inaugural edition of the Andrés Romero Invitational last Saturday on the Argentine Tour. Fernández, 40, claimed the wire-to-wire win in Tucuman by carding four rounds of 68 of lower to finish the week at 22-under 262, one stroke ahead of fellow PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member César Costilla and three ahead of tournament host and former PGA TOUR champion Andrés Romero.
USGA champions on the field. PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member Corbin Mills and sponsor’s exemption T.J. Vogel, winners of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 2011 and 2012 in respective order, are here to play the Colombian Classic. After finishing T3 at the Tour’s Qualifying Tournament last February, Mills’ best finish in eight starts has been T20 at the Mundo Maya Open. Vogel will be making his second start on Tour after missing the cut by one at the Puerto Rico Classic, an event he played on a sponsor’s exemption as well.
Bogota’s San Andrés Golf Club. This week’s venue was set-up as a 7,291-yard par-71. It’s the first time the course has hosted a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event and it’s in perfect shape. It features four par-5s, nine par-4s and five par-3s. The 510-yard No. 7 is played as a par 5 by the locals, but will be played as a par 4 this week. With Colombia’s capital city at 8,612 feet above sea level, the players are quickly adjusting their distances as the ball flights ten to fifteen percent further than usual.
- Club Name: San Andrés Golf Club
- Location: Bogota, Colombia
- Par: 71 (35-36) – 7,291 yards
- Club Founded on: February 20, 1945
- Course Founded on: April 26, 1947
- Course Design: Thompson & Robert Trent Jones Jr.
- Club Web Page: http://www.sanandresgolfclub.com