Record 10 Mexican players in field arrive from across golf world
TOUR winners Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz lead way at Mexico Open at Vidanta
April 26, 2022
By Kevin Prise , PGATOUR.COM
- The 10 Mexican players in the field represents the growth of golf's popularity in Mexico. (Maria Aleman/PGA TOUR)
VIDANTA VALLARTA, Mexico -- As Oregon freshman José Cristóbal Islas readied for this week’s Mexico Open at Vidanta, a tournament staff member asked if he would like to play a practice round with Abraham Ancer.
Islas, 19, is making his first career PGA TOUR start. Ancer stands No. 20 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
The commonality? Both are included in a contingent of 10 Mexican players in the field at Vidanta Vallarta.
It marks a PGA TOUR record for most Mexican players in a field, a fitting milestone for the event’s first playing as an official TOUR event. (The event has been contested since 1944, affiliated with various Tours at different points in time.)
“They said, ‘Do you want to play with Abraham?’ Obviously I want to play with Abraham,” Islas remarked on Tuesday afternoon, after the 10 Mexican players gathered for a group photo at Vidanta Vallarta.
“He’s a super nice guy; I learned a lot playing with him. His short game is unreal. It’s something else.”
Ancer was impressed with Islas’ game, as well.
“He stripes it,” said Ancer of Islas. “Hits it really far. You can tell he’s really good. It’s just really exciting to see younger guys playing an event like this and getting the experience.”
This year’s Mexico Open brings together Mexican players at various stages of their career, allowing for notes to be compared and experiences to be shared.
Ancer, currently the world’s highest-ranked Mexican player, is joined by Carlos Ortiz as recent TOUR winners in the field (Ancer at 2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational; Ortiz at 2020 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open).
Korn Ferry Tour members Alvaro Ortiz (Carlos’ brother) and Roberto Diaz will compete this week, as will PGA TOUR Latinoamerica pros Armando Favela and Isidro Benitez.
Islas is joined in the amateur ranks by Santiago de la Fuente, 20, and Jose Antonio Safa, 18.
Manuel Inman, teaching professional at Club de Golf Chapultepec – former host venue of the WGC-Mexico Championship – will also compete, after winning a qualifier held for Mexican pros.
The tally: two TOUR pros, two Korn Ferry Tour pros, two PGA TOUR Latinoamerica pros, three amateurs and a club pro.
“The sport is all about motivation,” remarked Favela, 36, who grew up in Tijuana, played collegiately at Loyola-Chicago and has also spent time on the Korn Ferry Tour. “If you’re not motivated, then it’s kind of hard to keep being successful.
“Seeing that success (of Ancer and Ortiz) helps a lot. It motivates me. I’m just hungry to get there, and my time hopefully will come. Seeing what they’re doing, it definitely helps, and for other young guys, seeing countrymen do well and competing against the best in the world.”
Paired with the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, the TOUR now has two full-field events in Mexico. An increased TOUR presence continually fosters interest and engagement across the country’s sporting culture, Ancer said, and will continue to do so.
It’s a valuable opportunity for younger players to get their feet wet at the TOUR level, as well.
“Having an event like this here, it creates opportunities for other Mexican players out there that are in the younger stages of their career,” Ancer said.
“What I would say to them is just to learn as much as you can. Obviously, you come out here and you want to win the event and you want to finish really good, but even if you have a bad week, you should definitely learn what you need to get better at. It's going to help you so much down the line.”
His Tuesday playing partner echoed the sentiments.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Islas, who first nagged his dad about tagging along to the golf course at age 4. “Since I first started playing golf and first started practicing, this is a dream, to be part of this TOUR.
“Being an amateur and being able to play my first TOUR event in Mexico, with my family and friends, is just a dream come true. Can’t ask for anything better.”