Arturo Morales, a 51-year-old from San Juan, aced the eighth hole at Trump International on Wednesday in the Puerto Rico Open pro-am and won a new Acura TSX. Morales, an 8 handicap who was partnered with Kevin Na, scored his first ace after 20 years of trying.
The eighth at Trump International was playing 168 yards, and Morales used an 8-iron. It's a good thing Figueroa didn't have to play the back tees -- the hole plays 236 yards for the Puerto Rico Open.
The rainy season has subsided well in time for this year's Puerto Rico Open. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
About an inch of rain fell Monday on the Championship course at Trump International Golf Club-Puerto Rico. It’s the only precipitation the home of the Puerto Rico Open has received in nearly a month.
And for that, Jason Matos smiles.
The superintendent at Trump International certainly knows rain, enduring a rainy season that can last into early January. Recent weather, though, have provided a fairly smooth ride to get the course ready for the PGA TOUR’s sixth visit to the island.
"Right now it’s pretty good,” Matos said. “[The rain] slowed things down a little bit, but not much. It’s firming up, the greens are rolling a lot firmer. We’re headed in the right direction.”
Trump International sits amid the foothills of the El Yunque rainforest, which typically receives more than 110 inches of rain a year. At the height of the rainy season, usually around November and December, Matos and his crew can be idled for days by soggy conditions.
“We just sit there until it dries out,” Matos said. “There may be a week when we can’t mow or spray or do some other things, but all we can do is ride it out.”
Three years ago, rain and soggy conditions forced the tournament to go to a Monday finish before Derek Lamely prevailed. The past two years, though, have been dry and seasonable.
“We’re on a tropical island, so the weather’s really hard to predict,” Matos said. “Sometimes the radar shows we’re going to have so much rain and we don’t get it. Or maybe we get all of it the next day.”
Trump International remains unchanged from a year ago, when George McNeill chased down Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa with birdies on his final three holes. Previous years had seen the strategic addition of several trees adjacent to landing areas, particularly on the front side.
“We just tried to make those landing areas a little more narrow,” Matos said.
Forecasts call for continued sun, with the possible exception of a Saturday shower.
“I hope we don’t get it,” Matos quipped. “But the weather should be perfect for the next few days, and they say Sunday should be our best day.”
Graeme McDowell finished in the top 15 at Trump Doral in 2010 and 2012. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Rob Bolton, Fantasy Insider
All of the reservations you've had about burning a big name in a stroke-play event this season can be discarded this week. At the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, your patience is rewarded.
Fifteen percent in the field of 65 are guaranteed a top 10 in a no-cut format with a mammoth purse of $8.75 million. While some guys will be hoping to find their game, others will be expecting to capitalize on current form.
Justin Rose is the defending champion. He's No. 3 in my Power Rankings so I'm on board, but I try not to select last year's winner in any event. One-and-dones are simple games, so I don't mind the strategic challenge. However, I do allow myself one mulligan to that self-inflicted provision. I was tempted to use it this week as Rose continues to tear it up everywhere he plays.
Perhaps if I wasn't as intrigued by Graeme McDowell (No. 5 in my Power Rankings), who is my pick to tame TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral, I'd plug Rose in. G-Mac is one of the world's most accurate drivers, he's had success on multiple occasions at Doral and he's playing some of his most efficient golf of his career right now.
Matt Kuchar and Charl Schwartzel sit a respective first and second in my Power Rankings, but I've already exhausted both as one-and-dones. If I hadn't, either would bump McDowell from the top spot among my options. Hunter Mahan is No. 4 and available to me, but this tournament barely ranks inside his top 15 in total earnings.
As for the Puerto Rico Open, I'll adhere to the "Keep It Simple, Silly" method. While course experience isn't a prerequisite for success at Trump International Golf Club-Puerto Rico, it's still a valuable resource. That's why I'm inserting Kevin Stadler as my one-and-done. He's survived all five cuts in the history of the tournament, two going for top 10s, another two for top 20s.
Last week: Charl Schwartzel; T9; $156,000.00
Overall Record: 7-for-9
Top 5s: 3
Top 10s: 5
Top 25s: 7
Missed Cuts: 2
The PGA TOUR is pulling double duty this week with competitors headed to TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral for the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and to Trump International for the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com.
Our experts have made their picks for the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com and now it's time for you to make yours. Leave your selections in our comments section below. Don't forget, you can still sign up to compete with our experts each week by clicking here and joining the PGATOUR.COM Experts league in our fantasy golf game.
Did you know that every winner of the Puerto Rico Open is a Floridian? Preview the strong field that is set to tee it up at Trump International.
The final hole typically plays as one of the easiest, but it can be wildly unpredictable. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
Statistically, the 18th hole at Trump International-Puerto Rico plays as one of the easiest during the Puerto Rico Open. When it plays downwind, it’s a chance for a dramatic final flourish with two well-struck shots setting up an eagle opportunity.
The unpredictability of March breezes, though, leaves a downwind approach as no given. Factor in the green’s subtle contours, and it’s a hole that can bite anyone who isn’t giving it his full attention.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of stuff that can happen there,” said George McNeill, whose closing birdie last year capped a three-birdie finishing charge that overtook Ryo Ishikawa for the crown. “They can make it as hard or easy as they want.”
Officially listed at 630 yards, No. 18 is exceeded only by Kapalua’s 18th as the PGA TOUR’s longest finishing hole. Multiple tee options, though, combine with the Caribbean breezes to keep players thinking.
Two fairway bunkers guard the corner of the slight dogleg, with a larger one on the left where the fairway begins to turn. Whether going for the green in two or laying up, anything behind the green will exact a price.
Last year, Ishikawa was the only man among the leaderboard’s top 50 to post two bogeys at No. 18. In the end, he finished two strokes behind McNeill.
Michael Bradley has been on both sides of the ledger in his two victories on the island. In 2009, his 11-foot closing birdie broke a deadlock with Jason Day and Brett Quigley. Two years later, a missed 3-foot par attempt at No.18 sent him into a playoff with Troy Matteson – which Bradley won after Matteson short par miss on the second trip through.
“I can’t put a finger on it, but I’m not going to question it,” Bradley said after the playoff victory.
Shane Lowry made waves at the WGC-Accenture and hopes for an extended stay. (Carroll/Getty Images)
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Shane Lowry burst onto the scene two weeks ago when he upset world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Carl Pettersson to advance to the third round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
This week, Lowry tees it up in his first PGA TOUR event that isn’t a major or World Golf Championship – the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com. He hopes that there are many more TOUR starts to come.
“I want to play on the PGA TOUR as much as I can,” said Lowry, who plans to stay in the U.S. until May. “I spoke to Connor, my manager, maybe six weeks ago and said, I knew this was opposite the Cadillac, so I said to him, ‘Any chance we can get an invite there?’ and we were lucky enough that we did get an invite. Very grateful for that and hopefully I can make the most of it this week.”
He knows that a top-10 finish this week gets him into next week’s Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank. As one of nine top-100 ranked players in this week’s field, he will have his chances to do just that.
“Yeah, obviously a top 10 would be great to get into next week,” Lowry said. “I really want to play here as much as I can, so if I can top 10, as I said, just focus on one thing and that's the first round on Thursday, try and shoot a good couple of scores, get me in contention, come Saturday afternoon and Sunday, you never know.”
Lowry, with a little more success, could be a candidate to join the PGA TOUR for the 2013-14 season. He’s earned 68 Non-Member FedExCup points thus far, and if his non-member points exceed those of No. 200 on the final FedExCup standings, he’ll earn a spot in this year’s Web.com Tour finals. The average amount of points needed to reach that number since 2009 is 88. He could exceed that mark with a top-30 finish this week.
Each week, PGATOUR.COM's Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton offers his Power Rankings for the weekly TOUR event as well as his Sleeper picks. But what about the players who don't make the Power Rankings but who can't really be considered Sleepers? Bolton will make one "wild card" selection from the large group of players who fall into that middle range but might rise up to claim the title. This week's pick in Puerto Rico is ...
Fresh off a T18 at The Honda Classic, his best finish in a stroke-play tournament on the PGA TOUR since September of 2011. However, it was the latest of a handful of strong efforts worldwide dating back to last fall. He ranked T5 at PGA National in greens in regulation, second in proximity to the hole and T8 in par-4 scoring average. First-timer at Trump International Golf Club-Puerto Rico.
Former PGA TOUR winner Eric Axley is making his first start of the 2013 season.
By Michael Curet, PGATOUR.COM Contributing Writer
Jon Curran's 8-under round of 64 -- with nine birdies and a single bogey -- topped the Monday qualifier field to earn a Thursday start in this week's Puerto Rico Open on the PGA TOUR at Trump International Golf Club.
Curran, a 26-year-old Hopkinton, Mass. native, who played high school golf with Keegan Bradley, edged out the other three qualifiers, which included previous PGA TOUR winner Eric Axley, Garrett Osborn, and John Stoltz -- all who shot 6-under (66) at Rio Mar Golf Club.
Curran played college golf at Vanderbilt, came through sectional qualifying in the 2010 U.S. Open but did not make the cut. Since then, he has primarily been playing the mini-tours.
Axley is the only former PGA TOUR winner in the qualifier group. The 39-year-old Athens, Tenn. native won the 2006 Valero Texas Open by playing the last 53 holes bogey-free to defeat Anthony Kim, Justin Rose and Dean Wilson by three strokes. The former East Tennessee State star also won once on the Web.com Tour at the 2006 Rex Hospital Open. Since turning pro in 1997, he has made 67 cuts on the PGA TOUR.
Osborn, a 28-year-old Birmingham, Ala. native who played golf at University of Alabama-Birmingham, is one of only three players in UAB history, along with Graeme McDowell and Paul Dickinson, to be named All-American during his career at the school. A rookie on the Web.com Tour in 2008, he scored three top-10s. His only other PGA TOUR start came the same year in The Honda Classic, where he missed the cut.
Stoltz, a 29-year-old New Port Richey, Florida resident and veteran of the mini-tours, is making his PGA TOUR debut.
Patrick Cantlay earned his maiden victory on the Web.com Tour last week in Colombia. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By PGATOUR.COM staff
This week’s Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com boasts a strong field containing a mix of proven winners and young, up-and-coming players. Below is a glance at six players, aged 23 and younger, to keep an eye on this week at Trunp International.
Luke Guthrie (23) -- The Illinois alum and 2012 Web.com Tour graduate has racked up five top-30 finishes in his first seven starts this season. Last week at The Honda Classic, he finished alone in third place for the best finish of his young TOUR career.
Peter Uihlein (23) -- A former Oklahoma State standout and U.S. Amateur champion, Uihlein has posted four consecutive top-25 finishes on the European Tour and currently ranks 50th on its Order of Merit. Uihlein made 3 of 5 cuts in 2011 as an amateur playing on the PGA TOUR but was 0-for-2 last year after turning pro.
Ryo Ishikawa (21) -- In 49 events on TOUR, the young Japanese star has made less than half (24) of his cuts. One of those, however, was last year in Puerto Rico where he notched a career-best runner-up finish. Currenlty 188th in the FedExCup standings.
Patrick Cantlay (20) -- The Web.com Tour’s money leader, Cantlay earned his first professional victory last week at the Colombia Championship. He burst onto the scene in 2011 when, as an amateur, he carded a second-round 60 for the 36-hole lead at the PGA TOUR’s Travelers Championship.
Jordan Spieth (19) -- After a very successful amateur career that includes an NCAA team title at Texas, a No. 1 amateur ranking and low amateur honors at the 2012 U.S. Open, Spieth turned pro in December. He tied for 22nd at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am.
Si Woo Kim (17) -- Carded a closing 68 to earn his TOUR card with one shot to spare in the final round of q-school last year but cannot become a member until his 18th birthday in June. Missed the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am in his first-ever start on the PGA TOUR.