LIMA, Peru – Despite not playing his best golf Sunday, Argentina's Julián Etulain managed to successfully defend his lead and his title at the Lexus Peru Open presented by Scotiabank.
A hard-fought final-round 72 secured the win and turned him into the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica new Order of Merit No. 1. He also became the Tour’s first three-time champion and first player to win the same tournament in consecutive seasons.
On a day when birdies were tough to come by, Etulain found one on the final hole to put an exclamation point to his victory at Los Inkas Golf Club. He finished the week at 14-under 274, three shots clear of Pennsylvania’s Robert Rohanna and his countryman Sebastián Saavedra, who shared runner-up honors.
Holding the outright lead since Friday, Etulain entered the final day leading by three.
The 26-year old was over par for much of the day, allowing his lead to be cut to one several times. No contender was able to tie him in order to increase the pressure.
“I’m truly happy because I pulled this one off on a day I didn’t play well," Etulian said. "I was not able to struck the ball well for most of the day, so I had to work really hard to finish the way I did.
“Playing well for the first three days to take a large lead into the final day turned out to be a relief. I took me until the 14th hole to start striking the ball well. Between 14 and 18 I hit some good shots, but before that I had to make several up-and-downs to save par. I fought really hard to stay on top.”
The winner's check for $ 27,000 increased Etulain’s season earnings to $87,719, turning him into the new Order of Merit No. 1. He had started the week ranked No. 3, behind Colombia’s Marcelo Rozo and Florida’s Tyler McCumber.
“Holding the top spot early in the season or now it’s obviously good," Etulian said. "I’m happy about it, but that’s a position I would like to hold at the end of the season. That’s when it’s really going to matter.”
Etulian takes over the top spot in 'Los Cinco' with just four events remaining on the 2014 schedule.
Weather. Cloudy in the morning. Sunny and clear during the afternoon. A high of 75-degrees. Light and variable winds.
He became the first player to win three titles on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. He collected those three wins in a span of 357 days. All wins coming at events that had Lexus as the title sponsor. His first win came at the 2013 Lexus Peru Open on November 10 and the second one at the 2014 Lexus Classic Panama on May 25.
By winning the Lexus Peru Open in consecutive years, he became the first champion to successfully defend a title on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
With the $ 27,000 winner's check, he moved into the top of the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit with season earnings for $ 87,719. This is his first time as the Tour’s top ranked player.
He become the first Argentine to lead the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit since Ariel Cañete finished the Tour’s inaugural season as No. 1 to claim the Roberto De Vicenzo Award in December of 2012.
He improved his PGA TOUR Latinoamérica record to three wins, two runner-up finishes, two third-place finishes, nine top-10s, 19 top-25's and 25 cuts made in 38 starts. He is one of only four players who have played all 38 events the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica has sanctioned since it was founded in September of 2012.
He won this title at age 26 years, 4 months, 12 days. Becomes the 12th winner of 14 official events in his twenties this season.
Los Cinco. Aside from Etulain’s charge to the top spot, the other significant move among the Order of Merit’s top-five was made by Pennsylvania’s Robert Rohanna. By collecting his third runner-up finish of the season, Rohanna moved into the fifth spot. He had entered the week ranked No. 15. Oklahoma’s William Kropp was the one dropping outside the top-5 after failing to make the cut this week.
Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament exemptions. At the conclusion of this event the leading ten players on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit were granted exemptions into the Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament. The Final Stage will be contested at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida in December. The ten players exempt are: Julián Etulain, Argentina; Marcelo Rozo, Colombia; Tyler McCumber, Florida; Rick Cochran III, Kentucky; Robert Rohanna, Pennsylvania; Brad Hopfinger, Illinois; William Kropp, Oklahoma; David Vanegas, Colombia; Armando Favela, Mexico; Mauricio Azcué, Mexico.
Mexico’s Mauricio Azcué was the last to join this group. He made his move past Daniel Mazziotta by finishing in a tie for the seventh spot in Peru. He bumped Mazziotta out of the top-10 by just $55.
Those who finished this event ranked 11th-20th in the Order of Merit were granted exemptions into the second stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament. The second stage is scheduled to start this coming week at six different venues.
Best round of the day:
65 (-7) Tyler McCumber, Florida
66 (-6) Julio Zapata, Argentina; Alan Wagner, Argentina; Hugo Leon, Chile
65 (-7) Tyler McCumber, Florida
66 (-6) Alan Wagner, Argentina
Following event. PGA TOUR Latinoamérica is now headed to Brazil, where the 61st Aberto do Brasil / Aberto do Atlantico presented by Credit Suisse Hedging-Griffo is scheduled to start on Thursday. The tournament will be played at Gavea Golf & CC in Rio de Janeiro.