PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’ Restarts This Week
9 Dec, 2020
On March 8, Brazil’s Alex Rocha lifted the trophy on the 18th green after he won the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s season-opening Estrella del Mar Open in Mexico. At the time, players assumed they would take one week off and then travel to Argentina for a three-tournament-in-four-week stretch in that country, the season beginning in earnest. Instead, with COVID-19 issues occurring throughout the world, Tour officials postponed the three Argentina tournaments and all other Tour action, leaving the players idle, a plight PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, Korn Ferry Tour, Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Series-China players also faced.
This week, the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica players who watched this season’s schedule change dramatically are ready to restart the Tour’s revamped 2020-21 schedule. The Shell Open at Trump National Doral’s Golden Palm Course begins Thursday, December 10.
Traditionally, Trump National Doral has hosted the Tour’s season-ending, limited field event. This year, with the restart, the Shell Open will be a 132-player, 36-hole cut affair, the Tour’s second tournament of the season.
“We always felt this day would come, even back in March when there were so many uncertainties,” said Todd Rhinehart, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s Executive Director. “It’s been gratifying to be able to tell the players we would be restarting our season, and now to see them this week and experience the excitement they have about being able to compete again has been a real highlight.”
When players tee off in Thursday morning’s first round, 277 days will have passed since the last putt dropped at the Estrella del Mar Open in Mazatlán. The Tour eventually postponed 11 tournaments because of the pandemic, missing events in Argentina (three), Mexico (two), Brazil (two), Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. The Puerto Plata Open in the Dominican Republic, originally scheduled for early May, follows the Shell Open and takes place next week at Playa Dorada Golf Course. That event closes the calendar-year portion of the 2020 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica schedule.
“We have tremendous partners, whether it’s our sponsors, host organizations, golf federations or the golf courses where we play,” Rhinehart continued. “They have always been so supportive, but even more so this year with the special circumstances the entire golf world has encountered. Our golf course partners want to host our events as much as we want to conduct them. Restarting our season at a world-class facility such as Trump National Doral that has such a rich history with PGA TOUR golf also adds to the enthusiasm we feel.”
In 2020, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica switched from a money-based to a points-based ranking system. Rocha leads the points list after his Mazatlan title. Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz is in second place, followed by the Netherlands’ Rowin Caron, Mexico’s Raul Pereda and Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti. The top-five points-earners at season’s end earn 2022 Korn Ferry Tour membership.
All five of those players remained active during the summer, playing on the PGA TOUR-sanctioned LOCALiQ Series, a set of eight tournaments in the Southeastern U.S., designed for players from the PGA TOUR’s three International Tours—PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Series-China. The Mackenzie Tour’s Bryson Nimmer won two tournaments and eventually captured the LOCALiQ Series points title. He earned a start in the PGA TOUR’s 2021 RBC Canadian Open. In addition, he Monday-qualified into this week’s Shell Open. David Pastore and Carson Young, also Mackenzie Tour players, finished second and third in points, respectively, with both players also earning 2021 PGA TOUR appearances—Pastore at the Barbasol Championship and Young at the Puerto Rico Open.
Even with this week’s restart filled with a strong field of players, Rhinehart knows there is still work to be done as the Tour continues to solidify its schedule based on current pandemic restrictions in various countries. “While we are not prepared to announce the 2021 portion of the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica schedule, our team is tirelessly working with the sole intent of giving our players competitive playing opportunities going forward. To see their dedicated effort come to fruition this week at the Shell Open is certainly rewarding.”
About PGA TOUR Latinoamérica
PGA TOUR Latinoamérica is a professional golf tour created in 2012 by the PGA TOUR in collaboration with promoters, clubs and national golf federations in Latin America. The inaugural season in 2012 featured 11 tournaments in seven countries in the Latin American region. Since then, it has grown to include 17 events across 10 different countries in 2019. The Tour will hold three events in 2020 and additional tournaments in 2021 as part of a wraparound season. The points leader at the end of each season is awarded the Roberto De Vicenzo Award, and the top-five money winners from the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit earn Korn Ferry Tour membership for the following season.