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  • Player’s Take: Álvaro Ortiz

    At 24 years old, the Mexican is one of the Tour’s new faces for the 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season

  • Mexico's Álvaro Ortiz is ranked No. 2 on the 2020 Order of Merit. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
    Mexico's Álvaro Ortiz is ranked No. 2 on the 2020 Order of Merit. (Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)
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  • In the first tournament of the season, Álvaro Ortiz showed that he will be a player to watch. At that tournament in Mazatlan, the 24-year-old finished at 26-under 262 to finish solo second at the Estrella del Mar Open. With a score like that, how did he not win in his first start as a professional? Well, as Ortiz noted, Brazilian Alexandre Rocha “played golf from another planet” and ended at 29-under for both a three-stroke win and a 72-hole PGA TOUR Latinoamérica record.

    Although he didn’t win, Ortiz’s achievements are substantial. Prior to turning pro, the Mexican has dazzled. Not many can say that as amateurs they had the opportunity to play in the Masters Tournament and in four additional PGA TOUR events. Ortiz is one who can make that claim, and it will not be unusual to see him making the progression to the PGA TOUR, where he hopes to join his older brother, Carlos, a three-time Korn Ferry Tour winner and currently No. 26 on the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Standings.

    It’s not all golf with Ortiz, though, as he shares a little about his professional life and a lot about his personal interests.

    I had in my head in Mazatlan that if I was 26-under I would go to sleep as champion. I hit that number, and I felt like a winner only without a trophy.

    Alex did something amazing and won. Despite that, I am proud of the way I played all week. It motivates me for what is coming.

    My journey in golf started when I was three years old. I remember my parents gave me some plastic clubs, and we were going to play short holes on my club’s golf course. At the age of five, I started playing tournaments, and from that moment I did not stop.

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    To be honest I was never passionate about the game. At first, I played because my parents liked it, but it was really at 15 years old that I fell in love with all this. I said one day I will be a golf professional, and so it was.

    My idol has been always Tiger Woods. I think he is preeminent in this sport. Everything has grown thanks to him. You see how it has changed from the design of the golf courses to the way the game is played. He has been the revolution. There is no doubt he has been one of the great inspirations I have in this sport.

    In addition to having played the Masters Tournament and winning the Latin American Amateur Championship another of the great moments of my amateur career was when I had the chance to play the 2018 Palmer Cup in France. Being part of the international team that played against the United States is something that I will never forget.

    The funniest thing that happened to me at Augusta National was playing with Kevin Na. In the third round we played together and literally we did not say a word beyond the initial greeting until the 11th hole.

    On the 11th hole was the first time I really spoke to him. I asked him what his history had been in this sport and what his career had been like. He replied that he started playing on the Asian Tour for a year then went through Q-School, in 2004. “From there I have been on the TOUR and made a little pocket change,” he told me. I turned to look at him, and he finished by saying, “Yes, like $20 million.” It was very funny because when he commented on it, he said it in a very serious tone. Afterward, we laughed and had a good time. It is one of the best anecdotes I had at that tournament.

    In addition to playing golf, I enjoy playing other sports—a lot. When I have the opportunity to come to Guadalajara, I take the opportunity to play padel (typically played on a smaller court than traditional tennis and usually in a doubles format). I also like soccer and tennis. I know I have to be careful because I could injure myself, but I cannot deny that playing sports is in my DNA. I am very passionate and competitive. As much as golf is my life, I will never stop practicing other disciplines.

    Many do not know that golf is not my favorite sport. Few people know that soccer is my favorite. I am a fan of playing it and following it. I could tell you that I like playing soccer more than golf. I don't know why I never tried to be a footballer as a child, I just know that I always had golf in front of me and chose it as my way of life.

    I'm a fan of Chivas de Guadalajara. With my dad, we are fans of Las Chivas Rayadas. It is curious that although my grandfather, Gabino Ortiz, played on America team for a season, I can never be a fan of that team. I also follow Real Madrid very closely because of family reasons. My cousins on my dad's side are fans of that team.

    My grandmother was a refugee from the Spanish Civil War, and when she emigrated to Mexico something of Spanish tradition came with her, among many things a love for Real Madrid.

    I get along well with my brother Carlos, but the truth is that we hardly see each other because of the calendars we have. He was the one with whom I had the best relationship when I was little. We went to the stadium together, we practiced together, we even got into trouble together; things you live with your brother.

    Something I like is that when we meet, we don't talk about golf. We talk about other things, and I like that.

    In addition to my brother, I admire other Mexicans who have made it to the PGA TOUR. One of them is Abraham Ancer. I think he is a role model. He really breaks the paradigms of everyone who achieves the goal of reaching the TOUR. He has not had a swing coach and is a player who takes advantage of the talent he has. He does not seek to imitate anyone; he does everything in his own way and under the feeling he has. That is incredible.

    I also cannot leave José de Jesús Rodríguez off the list. I have had the opportunity to play with him in the last few months, and I have become familiar with his history. It is an honor for me to say that I know Camarón Rodríguez, one of the best in Mexican golf.

    I think PGA TOUR Latinoamérica is an ideal place to demonstrate your skills. In the past I had the opportunity to play this Tour, and I still have the same opinion. It is a great Tour to start your career. I have talked with many friends who have been here for a few seasons, and they all agree that it is a development circuit, a Tour where this great journey toward the PGA TOUR begins.

    The level of play on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica is very high, and the competition is getting tougher. Still, I am aware that I have what it takes to succeed here.

    It is not a good luck charm, but I always use the same divot-repair tool and the same ball marker. I started using the divot-repair tool the week I played the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village (in Ohio), and I've had the ball marker since I was at Augusta National. I became friends with an Augusta National waiter in the whole process of going to practice there, and he gave me a silver dollar from 1889. I have used that ball marker since then and the truth has been very good with it.