LUJAN, Argentina – Only a day after turning 23, Thomas Baik gave himself one more reason to celebrate by claiming medalist honors at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament played at Club Las Praderas de Lujan in Argentina.
The Cordoba native carded a 3-under 69 on the final round on Friday to secure the top spot at 16-under par 272. He finished two shots clear of his countryman Gustavo Acosta, who shot 2-under 70.
As this event’s medalist Baik secured full exempt status for the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica 2017 season, which is scheduled to start 20 days from today in Bogota, Colombia.
“It’s very satisfying to accomplish this goal. I came here with my sights set on securing status for the first half of the season, so the win is an additional reward that will keep my relaxed for the rest of the season,” said Baik, who recorded his first win as a pro at the DevSeries’ 82nd Abierto del Litoral last November in Rosario, Argentina.
After claiming the outright lead with a week low 7-under 65 on the second round, Baik stayed at the top of the leaderboard for the rest of the event. With the experienced Acosta only a shot behind entering a beautiful final day, Baik managed to stay in control.
“I started with a bogey at the first, but then I made four consecutive birdies (2 thru 5) that kept me loose. On the back nine I lost a ball on No. 14, but I came back with a birdie on 15 that gave me comfort,” said the medalist regarding a final round of seven birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey.
Baik has played 15 events on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica throughout his career, recording two top-25s in four starts last year. He made his return to Latin America after playing the 2016 season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, where he made seven cuts and recorded three top-25s in 11 starts to finish 65th on the Order of Merit.
“This was a great week and I’m grateful for everything that God has given me. I hope to keep working hard to accomplish my goals this year,” said the Argentine.
Holding the second spot for the last three rounds, Acosta claimed runner-up honors to remain a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member for the sixth consecutive year. “Claiming the Tour card back is always good news. Hopefully I can be more consistent this year,” said the 46-year old veteran who has made 59 career starts on Tour.
Acosta led a group of ten players who secured exempt status for the events to be played during the first half of the season, with Adam Ball of Chesterfield, Virginia (-12) Ally Tidcombe of Nova Scotia, Canada (-11) and Juan Álvarez of Montevideo, Uruguay (-9) completing the top-5.
The other players inside the top-11 were Rohan Ramnath of Weston, Florida (-7), Christian Espinoza of Chicureo, Chile (-6), Alan Wagner of Buenos Aires, Argentina (-6), Shad Tuten of Elberton, Georgia (-5), Ty Capps of Palm Coast, Florida (-4) and Tom Moore of San Antonio, Texas (-4).
Capps and Moore survived a three-way playoff for two spots after finishing in a tie for tenth with Mariano Benítez of Rosario, Argentina. Benítez led a group of 21 players who finished inside the top-30 and ties to earn conditional status for the year.