Notes: Web.com resumes this week in Chile
March 04, 2014
- Benjamin Alvarado finished T4 at last year's Chile Classic. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
RETURN TO BEAUTIFUL CHILE – The Web.com Tour makes its third appearance in Chile this week. The Chile Classic at Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago has quickly become one of the country’s most visible sporting events and has helped promote its splendor, geographic beauty and wonderful people. The Classic is spearheaded by Alejandro Peric and Podium Sports, in cooperation with the Chilean government and Chile National Tourism Service, as well as host Prince of Wales Country Club. Santiago has blossomed into one of Latin America’s most modern cities, a financial center and regional home to many multinationals.
CHILE’S BENJAMIN ALVARADO – Performances in last year’s Chile Classic and Brasil Champions presented by HSBC ignited Benjamin Alvarado’s 2013 season, which concluded with him becoming the first Chilean to secure a PGA TOUR card. The 28-year-old finished T4 in his hometown event in Santiago last March and one month later, playing on a sponsor exemption, he won in São Paulo, making him the first Chilean to win on the Web.com Tour. A knee problem sidelined the former Arizona State University All-American from the end of July through the end of the 2013 season. Alvarado will make his PGA TOUR debut at the Valero Texas Open later this month. The Chile Classic will be his second Web.com Tour start of 2014. He played in the Tour’s season opener in Colombia three weeks ago (missed cut). Next week, he will represent Chile at the South American Games in Santiago.
LATIN IMAPCT – The Chile Classic field will feature nine Chilean players, one more than last year. Four spots were earned via a series of local qualifiers played in different cities around Chile, with Juan Cerda earning the top spot in the rankings. He was followed by Hugo Leon, Martin Ureta and Christian Espinoza. Sponsor exemptions were awarded to Santiago Russi, Nicolas Geyger, Mark Tullo and Felipe Aguilar, who finished T6 last year. Rounding out the nine Chileans in the field is Benjamin Alvarado. The field will also feature the top-five finishers off last year’s NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit: 1-Ryan Blaum (USA) 2-Jose de Jesus Rodriguez (Mexico), 3-Tim O’Neal (USA), 4-Jorge Fernandez-Valdes (Argentina), and 5-Manuel Villegas (Colombia). Another player who hopes to continue his good form is Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz, a Web.com Tour rookie who finished third in his member debut last month at the season-opening Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship presented by Claro.
WINNING YOUNG – Russell Henley joined a select group on Sunday when he claimed The Honda Classic in a four-man playoff. The 24-year-old Georgian is one of four players under the age of 25 with multiple PGA TOUR wins - Rory McIlroy (6 wins), Henley (2), Patrick Reed (2) and Harris English (2). Henley (3 wins) and English (1) are both Web.com Tour alumni and tournament winners. Henley’s Honda victory upped the alumni win count on the PGA TOUR to 377.
HEND, VAN DER WALT HEADING TO DORAL – Web.com Tour members Scott Hend and Dawie van der Walt are in this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship field at Trump National Doral. Hend qualified as one of the top-two players on last year’s Asian PGA Tour Order of Merit, while van der Walt did the same via the Sunshine Tour in his native South Africa. Van der Walt is making his first WGC start. The Aussie Hend has top-25 finishes in his first two WGC-HSBC Champions appearances in 2012 and 2014.
AND ALSO ON THE PGA TOUR – Three Web.com Tour rookies, Max Homa, David Skinns and Ryan Sullivan, have received sponsor exemptions to play in this week’s Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com on the PGA TOUR.
THE FIRST TEE ARRIVES IN CHILE – The First Tee will be officially launched in Chile on Tuesday, March 4th at Boston College in Pudahuel, Santiago as part of an international pilot program. Chile Classic tournament director Alejandro Peric and Dedric Holmes, Senior Director of The First Tee, will headline the event. This marks the first Latin American country and the sixth in the world to become part of The First Tee’s International Curriculum Provider pilot program.
NEXT UP – The Brasil Champions presented by HSBC at São Paulo Golf Club (March 13-16). This will be the Tour’s second visit to the country that will host the 2016 Olympics and the return of golf to the Games.