Du Toit claims medalist honors in Mazatlán
January 17, 2020
By Greg Villalobos, PGATOURLA.COM
- January 17, 2020
- As the medalist this week at Estrella del Mar, Jared Du Toit secured full exempt status for the 2020 season on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. (Media/PGA TOUR)
MAZATLÁN, Mexico—Holding a one-shot lead through 54 holes, Canada’s Jared Du Toit kept the pedal down Friday for a two-shot victory at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament Mexico in Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort. The 24-year old shot 5-under 67 in the final round to finish the week at 22-under 266. As the medalist at the event, Du Toit secured exempt status for the entire 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season that will begin 48 days from today at this same venue on the Mexican Pacific Coast.
Mexico’s Juan Carlos Benítez carded a 7-under 65 to claim runner-up honors, at 20-under, to lead a group of 11 players who made it inside the top 12 to earn exempt status for the first half of the season. In all, there were 37 players who walked away as 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica members. The ones finishing between a tie for 13th and a three-way tie for 35th will have conditional status for the first half of 2020.
“Definitely feels good to get it done, (I’m) exited for the year,” said Du Toit about his solid week that will allow him to return to PGA TOUR Latinoamérica for the third consecutive year. “I feel like I’m learning more and more about myself and my golf game and what areas I need to improve on. I’m working on those areas lots, and this win is very validating to that.”
Du Toit opened the final round with birdies on Nos. 1 and 5, going back and forth with Anthony Paolucci, who birdied Nos. 1, 4 and 6 to run into a tie for the lead twice in that stretch. A strong finish to the front nine, with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9, allowed the Canadian to open a two-shot lead, which he expanded to four with an eagle on 11.
“The whole front nine I was never out of position. I hit a lot of good shots and just kind of made the putts that I was supposed to make. I was really happy with my front nine, and that eagle on 11 was very nice, as well. It gave me a couple-of-shots cushion before the hard holes because that closing stretch with this wind can play a little tough,” said Du Toit.
Paolucci birdied No. 14, and with Du Toit bogeying the 15th, the lead was down to two. “I had a seven-footer for birdie on 15 that could have gotten me a little closer, but Jared made a great up and down on 16 to keep his two stroke lead, and then I made bogey on 17,” said Paolucci about his final stretch where he was unable to put enough pressure on the leader.
Playing on the other side, Benítez quietly moved into contention. “I was playing so well my last few holes. I thought I could be near the leaders and you never know. I loved the fact that I kept making birdies and climbing up the leaderboard, trying to go as low as possible as I could,” said Benítez, who shot 5-under on the front-nine for a 65 that moved him past Paolucci for a solo-second finish.
Did you know that Jared Du Toit is the second Canadian player to win this Qualifying Tournament at Estrella del Mar? In 2016, the first time PGA TOUR Latinoamérica staged the event here, his countryman David Rose was the one claiming medalist honors. There were three U.S. medalists in between the Canadians’ wins.
How the Qualifying Tournament Worked? There were 83 players from the original 86 entered who finished all 72 holes this week. Below is a breakdown of the various rewards players earned this week:
Jared Du Toit
Exempt for the entire 2020 season
2nd through 12th (no ties)
Juan Carlos Benítez
Exempt for the first half of the 2020 season
13th through 35th (plus ties)
Mitchell Schow (a)
Conditionally exempt for the first half of the 2020 season
Jared Du Toit earned PGA TOUR Latinoamérica status for the third consecutive year here at Estrella del Mar. He had finished solo fourth in 2018 and tied for 22nd in 2019 before claiming medalist honors this week to secure exempt status for all of 2020, the first time he’s had that distinction on this Tour.
Despite dealing with a stomachache at the beginning of the week, Juan Carlos Benítez of Puebla, Mexico, steadily climbed the leaderboard after each round. He went from 22nd after an opening 69 to runner-up after a final-round 65, with rounds of 68-66 in between. The 27-year-old had earned conditional status via his finish in the Dev Series Final last December but felt he had a good chance to improve here.View this post on Instagram
Juan Carlos Benítez 🇲🇽 mejoró sus scores en cada ronda (69-68-66-65) para terminar 2º con -20 en el Torneo de Clasificación México que concluyó esta tarde. Quedó a la cabeza de 11 jugadores que aseguraron estatus completo para la primera mitad de la temporada 2020 del #pgatourla. Dicha campaña comenzará aquí mismo en @estrelladelmarmexico dentro de solo 48 días. As the Qualifying Tournament Mexico runner-up, at 20-under, Mexico’s own @juancabl secured exempt status for the first half of the 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season. The 27-year old improved his score every round, going 69-68-66-65 for a solid performance.
Juan Carlos Benítez has shot 41-under in his last seven competitive rounds at Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort, winning a 54-hole Mexico Tour event on December 8, at 21-under (64-62-69), and claiming runner-up honors this week, at 20-under (69-68-66-65). Obviously, Benitez should be looking forward to coming back here for the Estrella del Mar Open, the event that will kick-off the 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season (March 5-8).
Juan Carlos Benítez was the best of five Latin American players competing this week. The following were their scores and positions at the conclusion of the tournament:
Juan Carlos Benítez (Mexico)
José Luis Martínez (Mexico) amateur
José Méndez (Costa Rica)
Mario Luján (Mexico)
José Luis Muñoz (Peru) amateur
A bogey-free, 8-under 64 by Kyle Kmiecik was the lowest round of the day. It allowed the Cleveland, Ohio, native to tie for 13th among the players who earned conditional status for the first half of the season. Kmiecik entered the day in a tie for 29th, with no scores in the 60s over the first three rounds.
There were 13 bogey-free rounds after the first two days, but with the wind picking up there were only seven over the final two rounds. Below is the breakdown by round.
First Round (7): Brendon Doyle (64), Josh Sedeno (66), Steven Ihm (66), Josh Seiple (66), Daniel Hudson (67), Li Wang (68) and Tyler Torano (69).
Second Round (6): Derek Bayley (66), Callum McNeill (66), William Mansfield (67), Sonny Michaud (69), Li Wang (70) and Paul Imondi (70).
Third Round (2): James Anstiss (67) and Scott Newell (68).
Fourth Round (5): Kyle Kmiecik (64), Sean Busch (65), Chris Gilman (68), Vishal Giri (68), and Josh Sedeno (69).
There were 118 rounds in the 60s this week (33 Tuesday, 27 Wednesday, 28 Thursday and 30 Friday), and there were only six players who shot in the 60s all four days. Those players were Jared Du Toit, Juan Carlos Benítez, Anthony Paolucci, James Anstiss, Hugo Bernard and Tyler Torano.
After five unsuccessful Qualifying Tournament tries (tie for 64th and 60th in 2016, tied for 91st in 2017, tied for 80th in 2018 and tied for 61st in 2019), Jacob Loya of El Paso, Texas, finally broke thought to earn PGA TOUR Latinoamérica status. Tied for the 36-hole lead after rounds of 67-65, Loya closed 71-70 to tie for the sixth spot. The 27-year old who had his father, Alvaro, as his caddie this week will have exempt status for the first half of the season.
Michael Feuerstein, a 36-year old from San Diego, Calif., and Derek Gillespie, a 41-year old from Ontario, Canada, carded a morning-wave-low, 6-under 66 to finish at 9-under and 8-under, respectively. Starting the final round outside the top 35, both secured conditional status, with Feuerstein tying for 25th and Gillespie tying for 29th. Gillespie is a Tour veteran, with 69 career starts since 2013, while Feuerstein made seven starts between 2018 and 2019.
Josh Goldenberg was 1-over for the day through 10 holes but finished with five consecutive birdies between Nos. 11 and 15 to shoot 68 and climb into a tie for 31st, at 7-under.
The players who tied for 35th, the last positions for conditional status, were Americans Ben Geyer, Jeff Wibawa and Justin Peters. Tying for 38th and earning no status, a shot outside the cutline, were Kevin Rhoderick, Evan Knight, Sarosh Adi, Kurtis Luedtke, Jake Hendrix and Steven Kupcho.
Below is the scoring average after each round at the 7,015-yard par-72 at Estrella del Mar.
The 37 players who earned status at this event represent six countries, with 29 of them coming from the U.S. Led by tournament medalist Jared Du Tout, there were four Canadians who made it thru (Hugo Bernard, Derek Gillespie and Sonny Michaud). Four other countries had one player each, with Juan Carlos Benítez (Mexico), James Anstiss (New Zealand), Danny List (Australia) and Callum McNeil (Scotland).
“I hit a great drive. I think I had 235 (yards) to the pin, downwind, it was one of those I was kind of aiming a little left of the pin, you know, where you are supposed to, and I hit a high one, and the wind and my cut kind of took toward the pin and (it) took a nice bounce and went to about five to six feet, and I rolled it in.”—Jared Du Toit describing his eagle on No. 11
“It was a bit of a battle there (on the back nine). We were falling a little behind. Obviously we (were) grinding hard, we (were) working hard and playing hard. It was a little stressful coming in but (I am) definitely happy to get it done.”—Jared Du Toit
“I’m really happy with where my game is at. This course suits me really well, and I love it. I’m looking forward to coming back in a couple of month for the first event of the season.”—Juan Carlos Benítez
“I came with the goal of improving my status. I got some conditional status at the Dev Series Final, so my goal was to improve that. It would have been nice to finish first, but being exempt thru the first reshuffle is almost as good”—Anthony Paolucci
“Oddly enough, I started every round this week basically the same, at anywhere from 2- to 4-under through (No.) 10, and I just kind of let those rounds fade away the first three days. (I) had a little discussion with a couple of people last night, including my coach, and just said we have to save the best for last and once we made that turn keep the pedal down.”— Kyle Kmiecik after firing a final-round-low 64 to finish tied for 13th
Tournament Fast Fact
There is only one Qualifying Tournament left to play for the 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season. That final event will be played at Cañuelas Golf Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (January 28-31). The Argentina event is open only to Latin American players.
Fourth-Round Weather Report
Partly cloudy. High of 82. Wind NNW at 5-10 mph.