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  • Rocha fires a 62, sets 29-under record to win Estrella del Mar Open

  • Alexandre Rocha, 42, became only the third player in PGA TOUR Latinoamérica history to win at age 40 or older. . (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
    Alexandre Rocha, 42, became only the third player in PGA TOUR Latinoamérica history to win at age 40 or older. . (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
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  • MAZATLAN, Mexico—In a three-way tie for the lead at the start of the day, Brazilian veteran Alexandre Rocha fired a course-record-tying 10-under 62 to run away with the Estrella del Mar Open. Opening the day with five consecutive birdies, the 42-year old from Sao Paulo kept the pedal down for a three-stroke victory over Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. At 29-under 259 for the week, Rocha went on to set a new low 72-hole record at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s 2020 season-opening event.

    Despite carding his lowest round of the week, at 8-under 64, Ortiz came up short in the race for the title. At 26-under he claimed runner-up honors in his first start as a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member. Also carding a 64 was his fellow countryman Raúl Pereda, who finished at 25-under to tie for third with Rowin Caron of the Netherlands. Caron entered the day sharing the lead with Rocha and Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti, who carded a 67 to finish solo fifth at 24-under.

    “I’ve never really run away with a tournament before, and never have I shot 29-under par before either,” said Rocha. “For the last couple of years I’ve really done some work on my putting. I’ve been saying that should I get the opportunity to get some good surfaces and have a good week where I putt well, then I can shoot anything and this was just the opportunity that I was looking for.”

    With his impressive five-birdie start Rocha managed to open a two-shot lead over Tosti, who got off to a birdie-eagle start before slowing down while playing by Rocha’s side in the last twosome. “The five-birdie start just set the tone for the rest of the day. When I made that, I sort of started again, per se. I was trying to shoot another 5-under from that point to really take control of the tournament, and fortunately that’s exactly what happened,” said the Mississippi State University alum.

    Rocha birdied holes 9, 10 and 11 to keep other contenders away. Although his only bogey of the day, at the 14th hole, narrowed his lead to one shot, Rocha never felt his victory was in jeopardy down the stretch. “I didn’t know the lead was one, but I didn’t really think much of anything at that point. I thought I was going to make a couple of birdies coming in anyway,” said Rocha, who bounced back with another string of three birdies from 15 through 17.

    Rocha became only the third player in Tour history to win at age 40 or older. No player in his 40s had won on this Tour since Timothy O’Neal claimed the 2016 Casa de Campo Dominican Republic Open, at age 43.

    “It’s not easy to win on any level for any age really. I may be 42, but I’m not really, because I work unbelievably hard on my body not to feel or move like I’m 42 years old. Today, I’m in the best physical condition that I have ever been. I’m hitting the ball as hard as I have ever hit it, actually further, so I’m better now,” added Rocha, who turned professional in 2000.

    Did you know Alexandre Rocha has made 51 career starts on the PGA TOUR? He was a TOUR member for two consecutive seasons, from 2011 to 2012, and his best career finish was a runner-up showing at the 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open. Rocha has also played on the Korn Ferry Tour, the European Tour and the Asian Tour.

    Key Information

    With a final-round, 10-under 62 Alexandre Rocha tied the course record previously set by Jacob Bergeron (fourth round, 2019 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament), Juan Carlos Benítez (second round, 2019 Copa Puro Sinaloa, Mexican Tour) and Alejandro Tosti (first round, 2020 Estrella del Mar Open).

    At 29-under for the week, Alexandre Rocha set a new low 72-hole total on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. The old mark belonged to Augusto Núñez, who shot 25-under 259 to win the 2016 Flor de Caña Open at Guacalito de la Isla in Nicaragua.

    The 29-under total is also a new low 72-hole total at Estrella del Mar, where the previous mark was set by Jacob Bergeron at 24-under 264 during the 2019 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament.

    This was Alexandre Rocha’s second career victory on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. His other win came at the 2015 Aberto do Brasil, an event he won by defeating current PGA TOUR champion Keith Mitchell on the seventh hole of a sudden-death playoff at Itanhangá Golf Club in Rio de Janeiro.

    This was the third victory by a Brazilian player in PGA TOUR Latinoamérica history. Besides Rocha’s other Tour win, Rafael Becker won the 2014 Aberto do Brasil.

    Rocha was making his 41st career PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start.

    At 42 years, 3 months, 15 days, Alexandre Rocha became only the third player over the age of 40 to win a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica event. He joins Timothy O’Neal of Savannah, Ga., and Angel Cabrera of Cordoba, Argentina. They both won twice each in their 40s.

    • Timothy O’Neal, 43 years, 9 months, 11 days, when he won the 2016 Casa de Campo Dominican Republic Open (May 14, 2016)
    • Angel Cabrera, 43 years, 7 months, 9 days, when he won the 2013 Abierto OSDE del Centro (April 21, 2013)
    • Angel Cabrera, 43 years, 3 months, 4 days, when he won the 2012 VISA Open de Argentina (December 16, 2012)
    • Timothy O’Neal, 40 years, 3 months, 21 days, when he won the 2013 Abierto de Chile (November 24, 2013)

    With PGA TOUR Latinoamérica using points to measure players’ success starting this season, Alexandre Rocha earned 500 points for his win. That total gives him a 200-point lead to start the season-long race to move up to the Korn Ferry Tour. The following are the Order of Merit top-10 players after the first of 14 events on the 2020 schedule:

    ORDER OF MERIT TOP-10

    Thru 1 of 14 events

    Rank

    Player

    Points

    1

    Alex Rocha (Brazil)

    500

    2

    Alvaro Ortiz (Mexico)

    300

    T3

    Raúl Pereda (Mexico)

    163

    T3

    Rowin Caron (Netherlands)

    163

    5

    Alejandro Tosti (Argentina)

    110

    6

    Ryan McCormick (U.S.)

    100

    T7

    Leandro Marelli (Argentina)

    88

    T7

    Juan José Guerra (Dominican Republic)

    88

    T9

    Tano Goya (Argentina)

    78

    T9

    Cristóbal del Solar (Chile)

    78

    At 69.091 strokes for the week, the Estrella del Mar course provided the lowest scoring average ever recorded on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. With unusually calm conditions, the seaside par-72 course yielded another Tour record: 2,018 birdies. The following was the scoring average per round:

    COURSE STATS

    Round

    Scoring Avg.

    Birdies

    Eagles

    First Round

    69.19

    708

    13

    Second Round

    69.24

    686

    19

    Third Round

    68.50

    320

    7

    Fourth Round

    69.06

    304

    8

    Total

    69.09

    2018

    47

    The 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season will resume in two weeks, with two consecutive tournaments in Argentina: the Buenos Aires Championship presented by Volvo (March 26-29) and the Termas de Río Hondo Invitational (April 2-5). Those events will mark the beginning of the Zurich Argentina Swing, a competition that has been part of the Tour events in Argentina since 2015. The top performer in the Zurich Argentina Swing events will take home a prize of U.S. $10,000.

    Quotable

    “I’ve been playing much better over the last couple of years, and my scoring average has gone way down simply because my putting has gotten so much better, thankfully. I just knew somewhere in there I had a week like this, and it’s nice to actually do it and not just feel it.”—Alexandre Rocha

    “I felt the number was going to be between 26- and 27-under par, maybe, and I just tried to shoot that number. Once I started the way I did, I felt like I wanted to take it to 30 (-under), to see if I could do it. I felt throughout the round that I was always under control. I didn’t know what people were shooting, but I felt that I had the lead all day long and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.”—Alexandre Rocha

    “There’s something I thought of in the middle of the round that I had never done before. Yes, I made five birdies to start today, but I also finished with four in a row yesterday, so that made it nine in a row for me, which is a new personal record. Once I made it, I realized that, and then, I obviously missed the next birdie putt.”—Alexandre Rocha

    “I gave myself many opportunities and took advantage of most of them. Eight-under seems perfect, but I think that double bogey on the fifth hole cost me a little bit. I had an unlucky break on my tee shot, the ball completely kicked to the right, and it was out (of bounds) by maybe an inch or two, but that’s golf. After that I played unbelievably, making eight birdies in the last 13 holes, so I’m pretty happy with my performance.”—Alvaro Ortiz after finishing at 26-under to claim runner-up honors

    Final-Round Weather Report

    Partially cloudy and warm. High of 80. Wind W at 4-6 mph.