Saturday, June 15, 2024

US golfer Jake Knapp wins Mexico Open 2024

Puerto Vallarta will always hold a special place in the heart of little-known golfer Jake Knapp. It’s where the 29-year-old won the Mexico Open on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory.

The native of Costa Mesa, California, put himself in strong position with a 7-under-par 63 on Saturday that included a Vidanta Vallarta Course record 28 on the front nine.

Onlookers at the Puerto Vallarta golf course
Spectators filled the stands at the Mexico Open on Sunday. (Mexico Open/Instagram)

He took a fairly comfortable 4-shot lead into Sunday, and despite shooting an even-par 71 — his worst score in four rounds — he won by two strokes over another PGA Tour rookie, Sami Valimaki of Finland.

The third annual Mexico Open was played on the grounds of Vidanta Nuevo Nayarit-Vallarta, a sprawling resort on the Pacific Ocean. Designed by all-time PGA great Greg Norman, the course was awarded “Renovation of the Year” by Golf Inc. magazine in 2022. Its layout winds along the Ameca River and provides limitless views of the Sierra Madre mountains.

Knapp earned a US $1.46 million paycheck for his 19-under 265 in what was only his ninth PGA Tour start since his days at UCLA. The win also earned him invitations to the upcoming Masters and PGA Championship, and moved him from 53rd place into the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings for 2024.

Knapp, who was working as a nightclub bouncer only a few years ago, dedicated the win to his grandfather, who died from colon cancer last year. “Papa, thank you,” Knapp said, pointing to the sky as he walked off the 18th green.

Golfer Alvaro Ortiz takes a swing
Álvaro Ortiz, the tournament’s top-finishing Mexican golfer, was tied for the lead until he shot an over-par third round. (PGA Tour)

The top Mexican finisher was Alvaro Ortiz, whose 7-under 64 in the second round left him in a four-way tie for the lead. However, thoughts of his first PGA Tour victory faded away when he shot a 2-over-par 73 in the third round Saturday.

The 28-year-old who grew up in Guadalajara and played collegiately at the University of Arkansas finished the tournament in a six-way tie for 13th place, eight strokes behind Knapp. He earned US $145,000.

A two-time winner on the Mexican Golf Tour last year, Ortiz is the younger brother of Carlos Ortiz, a former PGA golfer who joined the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour in 2022. The elder Ortiz had a pretty good weekend himself — winning an Asian Tour event in Muscat, Oman that earned him US $360,000.

In Puerto Vallarta, one of the players tied for 13th was American Tony Finau, the defending champion. Last year, he shot 66 or less in each round to take the $1.39 million winner’s check.

This year, Finau was the only player in the tourney ranked in the top 30 of the official World Golf Rankings. He remained in the No. 24 spot, while Knapp moved up from 101 to 52. Alvaro Ortiz, meanwhile, improved from 669 to 545 (his older brother skyrocketed from 1,286 to 237).

The Mexico Open is not to be confused with the Mexican Open, a professional men’s tennis tournament being played this week in Acapulco.

With reports from AP and Pro Golf Weekly

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