Puerto Rico Open Official Press Release

Posted on 06 July 2009 by EyeFred

 

Photo by Shayan (USA)

Photo by Shayan (USA)

Let’s Play Two: PGA TOUR and
World Classic Baseball in Puerto Rico

By Nelson Silverio and Mark Stevens-PGA TOUR

March 4, 2009, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico — A sports fan’s dream is taking place in Puerto Rico next week as the world’s top athletes in golf and baseball converge on the Isle of Enchantment.  On March 7-11, Puerto Rico will host four international teams as a first-round site for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. On Thursday, March 12, the day after the WBC bracket’s championship game, 132 of the world’s finest golfers from 16 countries will begin play in the PGA TOUR’s second annual Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular.

The crack of the bat leads to the ball in the cup as the stars of the PGA TOUR will tackle the Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico March 12-15. Puerto Rico’s greatest golfer Juan “Chi-Chi” Rodriguez, an eight-time winner on the PGA TOUR, will return as tournament ambassador to hand out the trophy bearing his name.  The economic impact of the Puerto Rico Open on the island is significant. The Puerto Rico Open will be broadcasted in over 589 million households, in 231 countries and translated into 35 languages.  Additionally, the PGA TOUR players and their families, caddies and fans will be traveling to Puerto Rico to experience all the island has to offer, including El Yunque National Forest. Just across the street from Trump International Golf Club, El Yunque is currently in the running to become a New7Wonder of Nature.

The Puerto Rico Open field has combined for more than 100 PGA TOUR victories, including six major championships. U.S Open runner-up Rocco Mediate, Ryder Cup star J.B. Holmes and 18-year-old Tadd Fujikawa will be among those players battling defending champion Greg Kraft.  Mediate was defeated by Tiger Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open in a Monday playoff. Despite the loss, Mediate gained a legion of fans from around the world for his role in what has been described in media circles as one of the great major championships of all time.  Holmes, a two-time PGA TOUR champion, played for the United States at last year’s Ryder Cup, and is considered one of the top young stars on the PGA TOUR.

The teenager Fujikawa, a native of Hawaii, received a sponsor’s exemption to play in the Puerto Rico Open. Earlier this year, Fujikawa thrilled his hometown fans at the Sony Open in Hawaii with a third-round 8-under 62 to jump into contention at the event.  Fujikawa’s achievements on the course are all the more impressive considering he was born three months premature and doctors gave him a 50-50 chance of survival. He weighed 1 pound, 15 ounces and was so small that he could fit in his grandfather’s palm.  Fujikawa, along with Rodriguez, will be hosting a Junior Clinic on Tuesday for local youth.

Hispanic Presence in the Field

Four golfers from Puerto Rico who played in the 2008 Puerto Rico Open are scheduled to participate: Max Alverio, Rafael Campos (amateur), Wilfredo Morales and Miguel Suárez.  Additionally, in an effort to showcase up-and-coming Latin American players, the tournament is extending exemptions to the winners of select Tour de Las Américas events. The four players receiving these exemptions are Manual Villegas, Antti Ahokas, Estanislao Goya and Felipe Aguilar Schuler.

Villegas won the 2008 Colombian and Argentinean Open, and is the brother of PGA TOUR professional Camilo Villegas, both from Colombia. Manuel who followed in Camilo’s footsteps by playing golf at the University of Florida will make his first start on the PGA TOUR.  Ahokas, a member of the PGA European Tour, won the 103° Abierto VISA de la República presentado por Peugeot in Argentina as well as the ECCO Tour Championship in Denmark in 2008.

Goya, a native of Argentina, won the 2008 Tour de las Americas Order of Merit. He posted a course record 61 at Bonaventure Country Club in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., besting Johnny Miller’s 32 year record score by one. He won twice more in 2008, at the 77 Abierto VISA del Centro Presentado por Personel, and the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final on the PGA European Tour’s Challenge Tour.  Schuler, a native Chilean, won the 2008 Chilean Open and the 2008 Abierto del Golf Club de los Leones on the Tour de Las Américas before winning his first PGA European Tour event at the 2008 Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open.

Proceeds from the Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular will support Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico, a charity that allows for the development of initiatives that are benefiting children and young adults who reside in the local community.  Following last year’s inaugural event, the tournament donated more than $200,000 to the local Rio Grande chapter. The Puerto Rico Open is also taking the opportunity to raise awareness about environmental protection and responsibility.  For more information or to buy tickets you may contact:  787-728-8500 or visit www.ticketpop.com.

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