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Sigel survives busy travel night to share Monday qualifier medalist honors

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Sigel survives busy travel night to share Monday qualifier medalist honors

    Written by Greg Villalobos @PGATOURLA

    QUITO, Ecuador—Minnesota native Ben Sigel birdied the last two holes at the Kia Open’s Monday Qualifier to card a 2-under 70 and join Puerto Rico’s Edward Figueroa in a tie for first at the Quito Tenis & Golf Club. The co-medalists finished one shot ahead of a group of eight players, who had to face a playoff for only four spots to get into the tournament.

    “I guess I had some energy left in the tank for the last two,” said Sigel of a huge birdie-birdie finish that kept him away from the playoff after a busy travel night that took him from Lima, Peru, to here, with a stopover in Bogota, Colombia.

    Tied for 30th with one round to play at the Diners Club Peru Open on Sunday, Sigel would have avoided the Monday qualifier into the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s next event with a top-20 finish. Those hopes evaporated with a poor back nine that saw him slip into a tie for 54th.

    As the second alternate waiting to get into the Kia Open, he didn’t want to take any chances. After signing his scorecard, at around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, he was in Monday mode. A 10 a.m. tee time awaited at Quito Tenis & Golf Club.

    Following a quick lunch at Los Inkas Golf Club, following his final round in Peru, Sigel hopped in an Uber to the Lima airport to make his 6:40 p.m., flight to Bogota. Landing in the capital city at 10 p.m., he learned that his flight to Quito was delayed. Fortunately, he was back in the air by 12:30 a.m. He finally made it here at 2 a.m., and after making it through customs, he arrived at the hotel at 3:30. He slept for about three hours, and with plenty of time to spare, he left for the club to make his tee time.

    Aside from the stress of depending on a good Monday performance, he had another obstacle to navigate: the extreme elevation of Ecuador’s capital city, 9,350 feet above sea level. It was something he had not experienced.

    “I had never played at this much elevation before. I played 12 percent,” said Sigel, alluding to how much allowance he made for club selection based on what he would normally use vs. what he needs to do here. “Someone told me that, so I played it, and I hit the ball pretty well and followed my yardage book around. I ended up making birdies on the last two holes to get through.”

    When asked about his whirlwind day, he smiled.

    “I was tired. My focus wasn’t great, and I just tried to stay positive, have fun and enjoy the scenery. I just put one foot in front of the other,” admitted the University of Kansas alum who turned pro this past fall.

    Sigel has now Mondayed into each of his PGA TOUR Latinoamérica starts this season. He is coming off consecutive made cuts, tying for 60th at the JHSF Brazil Open and for 54th at the Diners Club Peru Open.

    “I have been playing the Mondays because I have nothing else to go play in. I don’t have another path to get to the next level,” he added.

    Below are the six successful entrants from open qualifying for the eighth event of the season.

    T1Ben Siegel (U.S.)70 (-2)
    T1Edward Figueroa (Puerto Rico)70 (-2)
    T3*Andrew Spilman (U.S.)71 (-1)
    T3*Daniel Obremski (U.S.)71 (-1)
    T3*Ryan Baca (U.S.)71 (-1)
    T3*Oscar Hernández (Colombia)71 (-1)

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