Augusto Núñez entered the weekend one shot ahead of Jared Wolfe. The two had played the first two rounds together, and they would walk side by side on the weekend at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season-ending Shell Championship at Trump National Doral’s Golden Palm Course. Over the final 36 holes, Núñez matched Wolfe stroke for stroke, both players shooting 69-70, and that was enough for Núñez to take home a one-shot triumph over Wolfe, a victory that put an exclamation point on his Player of the Year-winning season.
Núñez’s final margin of victory although only one stroke, was fairly comfortable. He opened a three-shot lead on Wolfe after 12 holes and maintained that advantage to the 17th tee. Núñez played his final two holes conservatively, and his three-shot cushion allowed him to finish bogey-bogey and still preserve the win.
“On No. 18, I asked how we were doing, and someone told me that I was ahead by two. I hit a good drive and then a good second shot,” Núñez said of his shots on the par-4 closing hole. “I did three-putt, but hey, what I did before was enough. On difficult holes earlier in the round, with wind against me, I played a great golf.”
Núñez played great golf this week and, indeed, all season. He broke the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica record for single-season earnings ($148,734) and was the only player this season with multiple wins, his first coming in Ecuador in October. In all, Núñez led 11 statistical categories as he turned in one of the best seasons in the Tour’s eight-year history.
“Although I played a great golf this week, I will not deny that I felt very nervous today when I stood on the first tee,” admitted Núñez. “It has not been easy for me to close tournaments in the past, and today I kept calm at key moments. It was an amazing week, and I can’t wait to get home to celebrate with my family.”
Wolfe had a couple of late chances to put pressure on Núñez. Trying to make an eagle for the fourth consecutive day, at No. 16, Wolfe’s second shot on the par-5 landed short of the green, on the fringe. On his chip, he hit a poor third shot, leaving the ball well short and that eventually led to a par. On the 17th, Wolfe’s 16-foot birdie putt came tantalizingly close on the right side of the cup but wouldn’t drop, Wolfe left to wave his hand wondering why the ball didn’t move the other way.
Wolfe began the week No. 5 on the Order of Merit and was in a precarious position, however his runner-up finish allowed him to move to No. 3, safely inside the top five.
Did you know Augusto Núñez has made 40 consecutive PGA TOUR Latinoamérica cuts? Núñez’s last missed cut on this Tour occurred in 2016, at the Guatemala Open.
|Final Order of Merit Standings
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Low round-of-the-day honors belonged to American Patrick Flavin and Argentina’s Clodomiro Carranza. Flavin shot his fourth round in the 60s this week, a 4-under 67 Sunday, while Carranza improved 11 shots after firing a third-round 78. Flavin flirted with jumping into the top five on the Order of Merit but eventually placed sixth, less than $1,000 behind No. 5, John Somers. Carranza improved from a tie for 48th into a tie for 39th.
Patrick Flavin was the only player to shoot four sub-70 rounds this week. Including his Sunday 67, he opened with a pair of 69s and shot a third-round 68.
Norway’s Andreas Halvorsen finished in the 11th position, approximately $4,500 behind No. 10 Mito Pereira.
Fifteen players, led by Player of the Year Augusto Núñez and No. 2 on the Order of Merit, Tom Whitney, played all 16 tournaments in 2019.
While Augusto Núñez is exempt into every 2020 Korn Ferry tour tournament, the next-nine finishers will all travel up the road to Orlando metro next week for the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament, each player trying to improve his playing status.
Order of Merit and Player of the Year Augusto Núñez had 25 par-or-better scores over his final 26 rounds. Twenty-four of those rounds were under-par.
Augusto Núñez picked up his 11th top-10s this season, and of those, six were top-fives—with two victories.
Augusto Núñez birdied the par-5 second each day this week. He also opened the second and third round birdie-birdie but could only manage a par on the opening hole Sunday. He did record back-to-back birdies on Nos. 2 and 3.
After making only two bogeys in his first 36 holes, Augusto Núñez had eight bogeys over the final two rounds and still managed to walk away with a victory.
Tom Whitney finished No. 2 on the Order of Merit by $3,610 over No. 3 Evan Harmeling.
Whitney tied for 32nd this week, his worst finish since he matched that finish at the Sao Paulo Golf Club Championship seven tournaments before.
There were 16 rounds in the 60s in the first round, 20 in the second round, 21 Saturday and only eight Sunday.
In each of the seven previous PGA TOUR Latinoamérica seasons, there has been at least one player with multiple wins. It took until the final week of 2019 for a player to win his second tournament, with Augusto Núñez posting win No. 2
“On the fourth hole, I hurried to make a birdie, and that cost me. On No. 5, I had a great putt of five meters that I made, and that gave me a lot of confidence. On the seventh, it was a very difficult, uphill putt, and I unfortunately rolled it three meters past the hole, costing me my first bogey of the day.” –Augusto Núñez on his front-nine adventures on the greens
“On 18 I wanted to lay up, but Sebastián (caddie) told me that I should have no fear and go for the green in two. I trusted him and hit the green. Then I had a long putt, and I left myself a three-footer for par. I was really nervous on that last putt, and I hit it past the hole, about two feet. It wasn’t an easy downhill two-footer, but I didn’t doubt and I made it.” –Augusto Núñez on his finishing hole
“I was the runner-up at this event in 2016, and to come back and win leading from start to finish it’s something really special. It’s something that I had not done before.” –Augusto Núñez
Fourth-Round Weather Report
Sunny and warm. High of 73. Wind variable at 6-8 mph, with gusts to 10 mph.