Week 10 Approach Shots: Puerto Rico Open

Ehrmann/Getty Images
Besides winning last year's event in Puerto Rico, Greg Kraft got to share a few minutes with the legendary Chi Chi Rodriguez.
March 11, 2009

LATIN FLAVOR: There will be a strong Hispanic presence in this week's Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular field in an effort to expand and showcase the up-and-coming players of Latin America. The event has extended exemptions to the winners of select Tour de las Americas events, led by Manuel Villegas, the 2008 Colombian and Argentinean Open winner and brother of PGA TOUR professional Camilo Villegas.

Antti Ahokas, a European Tour member and winner of the 103-Degree Abierto VISA de la Republica presentado por Peugeot in Argentina as well as the ECCO Tour Championship in Denmark, is also playing.

Quick Facts
WHAT: 12th of 37 regular-season PGA TOUR events
WHEN: March 12-15
WHERE: Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
COURSE: Trump International Golf Club, Puerto Rico
TV: 6:30-8:30 p.m. ET, Thursday-Saturday on GOLF CHANNEL (Tape Delay); 7-9:30 p.m. ET, Sunday on GOLF CHANNEL (Tape Delay)
WHAT'S AT STAKE: $3,500,000 purse ($630,000 for winner)
FEDEXCUP POINTS: 250 for winner
KEY LINKS: Tee times | Leaderboard
Tournament home page

Two others of note: Estanislao Goya, a native of Argentina, who won the 2008 TLA Order of Merit, with victories at the 77 Abierto VISA del Centro Presentado por Personel and the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final on the European Tour's Challenge Tour; and Felipe Aguilar, a Chile native, who won the 2008 Chilean Open who also won the Abierto del Golf Club de los Leones last year and his first European Tour event, the 2008 Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open.

Others in the field are Max Alverio, Rafael Campos, Wilfredo Morales, Miguel Suarez and Esteban Toledo. They will be joined by Erik Compton, Tadd Fujikawa, John Nieporte and Alan Wagner, also playing as sponsor's exemptions.

PLAYER NOTES: Defending champion Greg Kraft returns to the site where he fired a final-round 70 to win his first PGA TOUR event in his 379th start on TOUR. Among Kraft's two other top-10s last year on TOUR was a T10 at THE PLAYERS Championship. Early struggles in 2009, with a best finish of T29 at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship. ...

Brandt Snedeker, the 2007 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, played in the final group on Sunday at last year's Masters Tournament, and earned fans for wearing his emotions on his sleeve at the conclusion of the event. ...

Charles Howell III is one of seven United States players in their 20s with multiple wins. He's looking to build on his season-opening fourth-place finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii -- in five subsequent starts, he has not finished better than T38 (Mayakoba Golf Classic). ...

Rocco Mediate, less than one year from his historic head-to-head battle with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open, looks to claim his first TOUR title since 2002. He underwent knee surgery following the FBR Open but came back three weeks later at the Northern Trust Open (T41). ...

Tadd Fujikawa, the 18-year-old Hawaii native Monday qualified for the 2009 Sony Open in Hawaii and posted a 8-under 62 in the third round, tying the course record, to jump into contention. He finished T32. ...

Erik Compton, playing on a sponsor's exemption, is nine months removed from his second heart transplant, and playing in his second TOUR event since making the cut at last year's season-ending Children's Miracle Network Classic. A former top-ranked junior and college golfer, Erik serves as a spokesperson for the Transplant Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding patient services, public education to increase organ donation and lifesaving transplant research. Diagnosed at age nine with cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that hinders its ability to pump blood, Compton had his first transplant at 12. He suffered a heart attack last year and had to undergo a second transplant in May 2008. Compton was recently named the recipient of the Golf Writers Association of America Ben Hogan Award, for remaining active in golf despite his health issues. ...

Rich Beem carded a final-round 65 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic to finish T6, just his 10th top-10 in 177 starts since winning the 2002 PGA Championship.

Weather forecast for the Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular
Partly Cloudy
Temp: 79 high/70 low
Isolated showers, 20 percent chance of precipitation, possible gusty winds
Partly Cloudy
Temp: 79 high/70 low
Isolated showers, 20 percent chance of precipitation, possible gusty winds
Partly Cloudy
Temp: 79 high/72 low
Isolated showers, 30 percent chance of precipitation, possible gusty winds
Partly Cloudy
Temp: 79 high/72 low
Isolated showers, 20 percent chance of precipitation, possible gusty winds
DTN/Meteorlogix is the official weather provider of the PGA TOUR. For more information, click here
Puerto Rican players
Joining the international players at the event will be four local players, each of whom played in last year's Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular:
Player 2008 scores 2008 finish
Max Alverio 76-75 -- 151 Missed cut
Rafael Campos (amateur) 72-72-75 -- 219 Missed cut after 54 holes, T78
Wilfredo Morales 72-69-77 -- 218 Missed cut after 54 holes, 77
Miguel Suarez 68-72-77-72 -- 289 Tied for 61st

CHARITY: Fondos Unidos, Puerto Rico's chapter of the United Way, is the main charity beneficiary of the Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular. Last year, the event was able to help establish a positive influence for the unprivileged communities in Puerto Rico. In its first year the event was able to donate $200,000 to local Rio Grande communities.