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  • Puerto Rico propels young players' careers

  • Jordan Spieth finished second at last year's Puerto Rico Open. Jordan Spieth finished second at last year's Puerto Rico Open.

Jordan Spieth had a tough decision to make last year. He had starts awaiting him on both the PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour in the same week in March. After consecutive top-10s on the Web.com Tour, he was a middling finish at the Chile Classic from earning status for the remainder of 2013; the odds of parlaying his sponsor exemption to the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com into PGA TOUR status were long, if not nearly impossible.

Many insiders felt Spieth should have stayed on the Web.com Tour to increase the chances he’d have somewhere to play for the remainder of the year. Spieth took a risk, and it paid off. He passed on the Web.com Tour start to play in Puerto Rico. He finished second, one shot behind Scott Brown, then finished seventh at the following week’s Valspar Championship to earn special temporary membership for the remainder of 2013.

The rest of Spieth’s season was spent in the spotlight. He won the John Deere Classic, advanced to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, was part of the United States’ victory in the Presidents Cup and named the TOUR’s Rookie of the Year.

“(I’m) very, very fortunate, very lucky to have made the right decision down there in Bogotá, and you know, it's just a great feeling,” Spieth said. “Those couple weeks at Puerto Rico and (Valspar) really changed my golf life.”

It was the second consecutive year a promising young player parlayed a runner-up in Puerto Rico into PGA TOUR membership. Japan’s phenom, Ryo Ishikawa, finished second in 2012 to earn special temporary membership.

There are several promising twentysomethings in the Puerto Rico Open field who will be looking to repeat their feat, names like Max Homa, Brooks Koepka, Emiliano Grillo and Brady Watt. Homa, the 2013 NCAA individual champion, finished ninth at this season’s Frys.com Open. Koepka, a Floridian who plays the European Tour, finished third at the Frys.com. Grillo, of Argentina, plays on the European Tour and was runner-up at the Dubai Desert Classic. Watt, an Australian, was a semifinalist at the 2013 U.S. Amateur.

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