Puerto Rico Open showcases Latin-American talent poolJanuary 30, 2009
PGA TOUR Staff
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico -- Winners of select Tour de las Americas events will receive exemptions into the 2009 Puerto Rico Open Presented by Banco Popular, March 9-15, at the Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande.
"It was always my desire to work together with the Federations of the region and do our part to expand and showcase some of the up-and-coming players of Latin America" said Sidney Wolf, Chairman, Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular. "Working with the Federations, these international and local players will have the opportunity to participate in the only PGA TOUR event in Puerto Rico. This will only help to increase the strength of the Tour de las Americas and the Puerto Rico Open field."
Manuel Villegas, the 2008 Colombian and Argentinean Open winner and brother of PGA TOUR professional Camilo Villegas. This will mark Manuel Villegas' first start on the PGA TOUR. Antti Ahokas, a European Tour member and winner of the 103° Abierto VISA de la Republica presentado por Peugeot in Argentina as well as the ECCO Tour Championship in Denmark. Estanislao Goya, who is originally from Argentina, won the 2008 TLA Order of Merit. He posted a course record 61 at Bonaventure Country Club, besting Johnny Miller's record score by one, a record that stood for 32 years. He won twice more in 2008, at the 77 Abierto VISA del Centro Presentado por Personel, and the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final on the European Tour's Challenge Tour. Felipe Aguilar Schuler, a native Chilean, won the 2008 Chilean Open. He also won the Abierto del Golf Club de los Leones last year and his first European Tour event, the Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open.
Among the players receiving exemptions into the Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular through the new relationship are:
"One of the PGA TOUR's main goals is to expand the reach of golf around the world," said Rick George, EVP and Chief of Operations for the PGA TOUR. "The Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular's partnership with the Tour de Las Americas will help showcase the immense golf talent in Latin America and in turn showcase Puerto Rico."
Joining the international players at the event will be local favorites Max Alverio and Rafael Campos. Alverio earned his spot by winning the local qualifier at Trump International last month, and Campos received a sponsors exemption following his win at the Puerto Rico Amateur Open in May.
"The invitation extended toward our 2008 Order of Merit winner is a true honor for us at the Tour de las Americas," said Tour Commissioner Henrique Lavie. "The opportunity to play in the PR Open, an official PGA TOUR event, is fantastic for our Player of the Year and all Latin American players who receive this honor. On behalf the TLA, I would like to thank Sidney Wolf and the Puerto Rico Open for acknowledging our tour and helping showcase the best players in our region."
The Puerto Rico Open Presented by Banco Popular will be played March 9-15 at the Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande. Proceeds of the event benefit Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico, a charity that allows for the development of initiatives that are benefiting children and young adults who reside in the local community. For ticket information please call (787) 993 0880 or log onto www.puertoricoopen.net.