September 26, 2009
Caracas, Venezuela – Chile, Venezuela and Brazil secured their place among the 28 nations expected to compete in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup next November in China. The Chileans, who led for the entire week, and the Venezuelans, a solid second since day two, earned their spots comfortably. Meanwhile, the Brazilians claimed the last spot available by defeating Guatemala in a dramatic playoff hole.
Chile’s Martin Ureta and Hugo Leon, both 24, played as the most seasoned veterans this week at the Caracas Country Club. Their aggregate of 27-under par 257 set a record for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup South American Qualifier Copa Marriott Venezuela Playa Grande, at least for the eight years the event has been conducted by the Tour de las Americas on behalf of the International Federation of PGA Tours.
“It’s really a huge honour to have the opportunity to represent Chile in the World Cup. This was our first time representing our nation as professional players, so it has been a great start. Martin (Ureta) is one of my closest friends, so it’s an honour as well to have the opportunity to share this experience with him,” said Leon after a conservative even-par 70 final round of alternate-shot foursomes that awarded them a three-stroke victory.
Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas and Alfredo Adrian, a young team as well at 25 and 26 respectively, cruised for their berth as well. The 2009 Omega Mission Hills World Cup will be their first after a week of great golf and lots of support from the local fans.
“We really enjoyed it and we played extremely well all week. Our performance in the alternate-shot format was awesome, full of courage,” commented Adrian after posting a 68 in a round that had them trailing Chile by one with only one hole left to play.
“We were confident about qualifying right from the beginning, our week was simply spectacular. Having the opportunity to represent our country and compete along with the world’s best players it’s going to be a huge pleasure,” added Vegas, who skipped a Nationwide Tour event to be here this week.
While Chile and Venezuela cruised to the World Cup, there was plenty of drama unfolding for those chasing the third and final berth available. Colombia, starting the day as the solo third by two strokes, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil and Guatemala proved to have the best chances as they exchanged positions throughout the day.
Matching 68’s, Brazil and Guatemala were the ones who ended up tied for third at 18-under par 266. Colombia posted a 72 to finish one behind in a tie with the Mexicans, who charged with four birdies over the final six holes.
Brazil’s Rafael Barcellos and Ronaldo Francisco, who made it into the playoff by birdieing the last two holes, claimed another birdie at the 73rd hole to defeat Guatemala’s Pablo Acuña and Alejandro Villavicencio. For Villavicencio it was specially heart breaking, as his birdie putt to extend the playoff lipped out.
“Last year we lost by one shot and it hurt badly, but this year it was fantastic, specially with those three birdies we made at the end,” said an ecstatic Barcellos, who claimed that this will be Brazil’s first trip to the World Cup in about 17 years.
Jack Warfield, the PGA Tour’s Vice-President of Championship Management, attended the event on behalf of the PGA Tour and the International Federation of PGA Tours. “It was certainly a great competition on a course in great shape. We are extremely proud to be part of this, proud of the competitors and certainly proud of the three teams who are going to come and join us in China for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup,” said Mr. Warfield before presenting the trophy to the winners of a fantastic week of golf in Caracas.
The US $5.5 million Omega Mission Hills World Cup will be played November 26-29 in China.
By Gregory Villalobos
TLA Media Relations Manager