BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – DECEMBER 4, 2013.
The NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica has reached the final week of the 2013 season, with the 108th playing of the VISA Open de Argentina presented by Peugeot. The tournament is set to begin on Thursday at the Jack Nicklaus designed Nordelta Golf Club, which is located in Tigre, 20 miles northeast of downtown Buenos Aires.
A lot will be at stake in the 14th event of the year, with several players looking to claim honors such as the Roberto De Vicenzo Award, the leading five spots of the Order of Merit who will move on to the Web.com Tour and the top 60 who will keep their Tour cards for 2014.
- 108th VISA Open de Argentina presented by Peugeot
- December 2-8
- Nordelta Golf Club
- Tigre, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Defending champion: Ángel Cabrera, Argentina
- Field: 132 Players
- Tournament Hashtag: #VISAOpenArgentina
Time to crown a new No. 1 The season ending event will decide who will earn top honors in the Order of Merit. The No. 1 player will be presented with the Roberto De Vicenzo Award and will also be fully exempt on the Web.com Tour in 2014. José de Jesús Rodríguez of Mexico enters this final event ranked No. 1, but he is only $3,571 ahead of No. 2 ranked Ryan Blaum of Florida.
Rodríguez is coming off two consecutive missed cuts after holding a strong $30,000 lead five weeks ago. Blaum is carrying the momentum with runner-up finishes in two of his last three starts. Their battle for No. 1 will be one of the most compelling stories this week at Nordelta. With No. 3 Timothy O’Neal of Savannah, Ga. skipping the last two events of the season, Rodríguez and Blaum are the only players who can finish No. 1.
Pairings For the first two rounds of the tournament the competitors have been paired according to their position in the Order of Merit. Rodríguez and Blaum will play together Thursday and Friday with Jorge Fernández Valdés. They’ll start off the 10th tee at 8:06 a.m. on Thursday and off the first at 1:06 p.m. on Friday.
‘Los Cinco’ At the conclusion of this event, the leading five players from the Order of Merit will earn Web.com Tour status for 2014. The top 3 players – José de Jesús Rodríguez, Ryan Blaum and Timothy O’Neal – have already secured their spots among ‘Los Cinco.’ Argentina’s Jorge Fernández Valdés and Colombia’s Manuel Villegas enter the week ranked Nos. 4 and 5 respectively.
Three competitors have a chance to move ahead of them: No. 6 Julián Etulain (Argentina), No. 8 Sebastián Saavedra (Argentina) and No. 9 Bronson Burgoon (USA). Trailing the fifth-place holder by $8,105, Etulain has the best shot, but he would need to finish in a two-way tie for third or better.
Order of Merit Top 10 The players who are not already exempt into the Final Stage of the Web.com Tour’s Qualifying Tournament can still qualify by finishing the season ranked inside the top 10 of the Order of Merit. The players currently in position to claim those spots are Julián Etulain, Sebastián Saavedra and Bronson Burgoon. Other players on the outside looking in are Christian Espinoza, Maxi Godoy, Alan Wagner and Rafael Campos.
Top 60 to save Tour card In order to keep or earn playing privileges on NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica next season, players need to finish this week ranked within the top 60 of the season-ending Order of Merit. Argentina’s Sebastián Fernández (No. 64) and Peru’s Sebastián Salem (No. 66), who both won Tour events last season, are currently outside. A player who has not earned any money this season would need to finish solo third or better in order to claim a Tour card for 2014.
Cabrera to defend Ángel Cabrera, Argentina’s top star and the only two-time major champion in the history of Latin American golf, is back in Nordelta to defend the title he won with authority last year.
“I haven’t played in about a month and a half,” Cabrera said on Monday during the tournament’s press conference. “I have this shoulder injury that has prevented me from playing much, but I will try my best this week. Hopefully I might be in contention.”
After losing a playoff to Adam Scott for The Masters title last April, Cabrera made an appearance on NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica to win the 82nd Abierto OSDE del Centro in his hometown of Cordoba, Argentina. The 44-year old is the only unbeaten player in the history of NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, with two wins in as many starts.
NEC Series PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Champions There are 14 NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica champions in the field this week. In addition to Ángel Cabrera, the other Tour winners in the field are Ryan Blaum*, Ariel Cañete, Clodomiro Carranza, Tommy Cocha, Julián Etulain, Jorge Fernández-Valdés, Sebastián Fernández, Fabián Gómez, Matías O’Curry, José de Jesús Rodríguez*, Sebastián Salem, Manuel Villegas and Alan Wagner. (*Two-time winners this season.)
Field Breakdown There are 132 players from 18 countries in this week’s field. The following are the countries and number of players by country: Argentina (69), USA (22), Colombia (8), Brazil (6), Mexico (4), Chile (3), Venezuela (3), Bolivia (2), Canada (2), Dominican Republic (2), Paraguay (2), Peru (2), Spain (2), Australia (1), Puerto Rico (1), Uruguay (1), Wales (1) and Zimbabwe (1).
Tournament History Founded in 1905 and organized by the Argentine Golf Association and IMG Argentina, the VISA Open de Argentina is the oldest golf tournament contested in Latin America and the seventh oldest among the National Open Championships currently played in the world.
Its list of notable champions is lead by Argentina’s own Roberto De Vicenzo, who set a tournament record with nine wins between 1944 and 1974. Other notable champions are Mungo Park (1905), Jimmy Demaret (1941), Tom Weiskopf (1979), Craig Stadler (1992), Mark Calcavecchia (1993 & 1995), Mark O’Meara (1994), Jim Furyk (1997) and Ángel Cabrera (2001, 2002 and 2012).
Golf Channel Latin America The tournament’s final two rounds will be broadcasted live throughout the region by Golf Channel Latin America. The third round is scheduled to air 4-6 p.m. local time on Saturday, while the final round will be broadcasted 3-6 p.m. on Sunday.
Nordelta Golf Club For the second year in a row the tournament will be played at the Jack Nicklaus designed Nordelta Golf Club, a par-72 opened only five years ago. This will be Nordelta’s third time as the VISA Open de Argentina site. It first welcomed this tournament in 2009. A typical Nicklaus design, this 7,240-yard course features several doglegs, large waste bunkers and many water hazards. The course difficulty could be increased by the wind, which at times can become a huge factor.
- Golf Course: Nordelta Golf Club
- Par: 72 (36-36) 7,240 yards
- Designed by: Jack Nicklaus
- Inaugurated in: 2008
- Club Webpage: http://www.nordelta.com