Thelen wins Dev Series Final, secures 2024 PGA TOUR Americas card
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Written by Staff, PGATOUR.COM
MAZATLÁN, México – Joel Thelen of Fort Worth, Texas, survived a late double-bogey on his way to a one-stroke victory at the 2023 Dev Series Final to lead a trio of players who earned exempt status for the 2024 PGA TOUR Americas’ Latin America Swing. Holding a four-shot lead at the start of the final day, the 33-year-old slowed his strong pace down a little bit to post a 2-under 69 and finish at 21-under 263 at Estrella del Mar Golf Club. The other two cards belonged to Sam Anderson of Stoughton, Wisconsin, and Paul Chaplet of San Jose, Costa Rica, who fired rounds of 7-under 64 to charge into a two-way tie for second at 20-under.
“I’m thrilled to win,” said Thelen, who held the lead for the last three rounds. “It was a big goal of mine coming here, just to play for first. There weren’t many cards out there, so I’m thrilled to get the job done.”
Opening the day with birdies on 2 and 3, Thelen seemed on his way to a comfortable victory, but a lost ball on 7, which he called “bizarre”, cost him a bogey. After making the turn at 1-under for the day, he strengthened his lead with birdies on 10, 14 and 15.
A double-bogey at the par-3 16th prevented him from cruising to the end line. “I was between clubs on 16. My 5-iron, I usually draw it a little bit and if anything, I wanted it to be right, so I hit a hard 6 (iron) and double-crossed it and hit in on the edge of the hazard and made a 5 there. It made the last two holes a little more stressful than they needed to be. However, I’m proud of how I stayed focused and did what I needed to do in the final two holes, making a couple of tap-in pars to hold on to it,” added the winner, a former PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica player who made 9 cuts in 21 starts as a 2023 Korn Ferry Tour member.
Trailing the leader by eleven and six shots outside the top-3 after opening the third round with a double-bogey at the first, Chaplet made an impressive comeback. He shot 16-under over the final 33 holes, making 17 birdies and only one bogey to charge into the tie for second and become the only Latin American player to earn exempt status this week.
“Unbelievable! I didn’t think I was going to accomplish this after the second round. I was too many shots behind, but after a good third round, I just fought as hard as I could today, and I made it. It’ll be great to be able to play all the (Latin America Swing) events on Tour next season,” said the 23-year-old who won the 2016 Latin America Amateur Championship to earn a spot in The Masters Tournament as a 16-year-old.
After the disappointment of finishing the 2023 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season ranked 62nd, just outside the top 60 who locked up PGA TOUR Americas cards, Anderson was able to redeem himself in Mazatlán. Inside the top-5 the entire week, he managed to move away from the pack by going bogey-free for the last 27 holes.
“It was good. I was hitting it nicely and I made some putts today. I was able to stay out of trouble and just kind of keep things rolling for the last couple of days,” said the 24-year-old University of Wisconsin alum.
Two strokes outside the coveted top-3, Fernando Arzate was the leading Mexican player. He was joined by U.S. players Christophe Stutts and John Greco in a tie for fourth at 18-under. Two shots further back, Flint Bekkers, Alex Weiss, Evan Brown and Jordan Costello of the U.S. closed the week in a tie for seventh. As the remaining seven players inside the top 10, they earned conditional status for the 2024 PGA TOUR Americas season.