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  • BUPA CHALLENGE

    Dominant Wolfe coasts to Buenaventura Classic win

  • Jared Wolfe holding the tournament trophy after his five-stroke victory at the 2019 Buenaventura Classic in Rio Hato, Panama. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
    Jared Wolfe holding the tournament trophy after his five-stroke victory at the 2019 Buenaventura Classic in Rio Hato, Panama. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
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  • RIO HATO, Panama—How good was Jared Wolfe this week? He bogeyed the final two holes of the Buenaventura Classic and it didn’t even matter as it related to the scoreboard. Instead of approaching a double-digit winning margin, the Kentucky native instead settled for a five-shot victory over a trio of players—Mito Pereira, Mitchell Meissner and Ryan Ruffels. The win was Wolfe’s third career PGA TOUR Latinoamérica title and his third in his last 17 starts, tracing to 2017.

    Any thought of drama unfolding during Saturday’s final round of the season-opening event at Buenaventura Golf Club slowly fizzled when none of the chasers were able to make a dent in Wolfe’s advantage. Pereira had a birdie on No. 3 to close the gap to one, but Wolfe birdied two of his first six holes. Even a bogey at No. 7 didn’t seem to slow him, and by the time he made the turn to the back nine, the two-shot lead he held when the day began had ballooned to five strokes. Wolfe made sure to minimize mistakes, and he coasted from there, with birdies at 11, 14 and 16, rendering his last two miscues moot.

    Wolfe not only wins the U.S. $31,500 first-place prize money, but he also takes the early lead in the Bupa Challenge. Players who earn the most money in the Challenge’s four designated events—here and at events in the Dominican Republic and Brazil—earn a $10,000 bonus.

    “It feels great to win anything, but especially out here on this Tour. I love this Tour. It’s great, and to start the season off with a win is more than I could have asked for,” Wolfe said following this triumph that puts him in solid position to return to the Web.com Tour in 2020, a place Wolfe played in 2018. “To start the season off with a win is more than I could ask for.”

    Any hope Pereira had of chasing down Wolfe ended during a two-hole stretch late in his front nine. He bogeyed No. 8 and double-bogeyed No. 9. Ruffels could only muster even-par golf on the front nine, and Meissner was 1-over through No. 7 and even making the turn.

    Did You Know Jared Wolfe has played in 24 total PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournaments? In those 24 appearances, Wolfe has made the cut in 19, finished top 25 15 times and inside the top-10 on 11 occasions, three of those top-10s victories.  

    Key Information

    For the week, Jared Wolfe made 21 birdies, the most of anybody in the field. His 10 bogeys tied him for 15th most. Key for Wolfe is he did not have a score worse than bogey all week.

    Jared Wolfe made six birdies each in the first two rounds, followed by four birdies in the third round and five Saturday.

    Mitchell Meissner gained entry to this tournament as a sponsor exemption, and he made the most of his opportunity tying for second in his PGA TOUR Latinoamérica debut. The finish earns him a spot in the next event, the Molino Cañuelas Championship in Buenos Aires.

    Players from the United States, Australia, Chile, England, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia made up those finishing in the top 10 this week.

    The low round of the day belonged to Argentina’s Augusto Nuñez. After three frustrating days of 72-75-74 golf, Nuñez put it together Saturday, shooting a 6-under 66 that move him up 26 places on the scoreboard, into a tie for 14th. Nuñez’s final-round move was the best of the day. Conversely, both American Shad Tuten and Brazil’s Alexandre Rocha began the final round tied for 10th. They each shot 77s and dropped into a tie for 35th.

    With three career titles, Jared Wolfe joins seven other players with a trio of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica titles. José de Jesús Rodríguez, Rodolfo Cazaubón, Julián Etulain and Michael Buttacavoli lead the all-time list, with four career victories each.

    Quotable

    “I’m just really happy with how the week went, how I played and how I was able to finish it out.” –Jared Wolfe

    “I knew going into today that probably, realistically, only two or three guys could catch the number I was at. I knew there would be a lot of ups and downs. I was trying not to get too caught up early on if any of the other guys made birdies.” –Jared Wolfe

    “Mito (Pereira) had a rough ninth hole, and that created a gap between him and I. I can’t say it put me on cruise control, but it did make a lot more comfortable on the last nine.” –Jared Wolfe

    “A lot of things could have changed through holes 10 through 13 or 14. I still needed to pay attention and really focus. I had to stay within the game plan I had.” –Jared Wolfe

    “Today’s wind started out pretty minimal. It seems like every day, as soon as we get to the back nine, it’s like the fans come on and it’s blowing 20 (mph) from one direction.” –Jared Wolfe

    “Finishing 15 through 18 are some of the hardest holes to finish on—especially with that wind. It makes the holes very difficult, the tee shots very difficult. I bogeyed a few of them to end with every day, pretty much, but I would be hard pressed to find somebody who didn’t. That’s a hard stretch to finish on.” –Jared Wolfe

    “I played one other time when it was this windy, at the Aruba Cup in 2017. Now the stakes were a little different. We were there to win, but we were there to have some fun, as well.” –Jared Wolfe

    “He was super impressive. I chipped unbelievably the first three days. Had I chipped even decent today, I probably could have given him a little bit of a scare. He was too good. He played great.” –Ryan Ruffels on the prospect of catching Jared Wolfe

    “It’s been a lot of progress since the end of last year when not a lot was going right for me. I didn’t quite have it, and I worked very hard over the offseason, so it’s very nice to early in the season see a few things start to pay off. ” –Ryan Ruffels

    “I’m pretty ecstatic. It’s huge because I can play next week and maybe get on a roll and keep playing because my conditional status isn’t awesome.” –Mitchell Meissner

    “It was a huge test. I’ve battled the wind before. In San Antonio, we’ll get 20 mph wind every now and again. I’m used to being able to manufacture shots into the wind.” –Mitchell Meissner

    Tournament Fast Fact

    Here are the all-time PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season-opening winners, Jared Wolfe the most recent to add his name to the list: