RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico — Colombian rookie Nico EchavarriaHe took control of the tournament with two straight birdies on his back nine. He closed the tournament with a 4-under 68 to win the Puerto Rico Open by 2 shots. This was his first PGA Tour title.
After he hit the par putt, Echavarria was soaked. He tied the tournament mark at 21-under-267.
Echavarria said, Im happy in my current life right now. After missing four cuts in succession, and only making two cuts, its hard to believe that you can do it again. I am very grateful that I persevered and got it done.
Echavarria (28-year-old Colombian who played at Arkansas) is the third Colombian to win on PGA Tour. Sebastian Munoz and others are also in the mix. Camilo Villegas.
Villegas finished two hours earlier and continued to celebrate with his fellow Colombian. Villegas had called him on Saturday to inform him that Echavarria had built a lead of 2 shots and that there would come a time Sunday when Echavarria felt the tournament was losing its grip.
Echavarria made a bogey on the sixth hole. He birdied the seventh hole, but bogeyed on the next hole. He didnt make any mistakes the rest of the way.
Echavarria said, I was capable of keeping it together in a stressful situation. Im grateful that he mentored us in that manner.
The win gets him into The Players Championship with its $25 million purse at the TPC Sawgrass. He also received a spot at the PGA Championship and a two-year exemption from the PGA Tour.
Echavarria is now a resident of TPC Sawgrass. He dreaded returning home every week because the best are just down the street.
He said, Im happy I got my place there,