Monday, May 20, 2024

Who is the 22-year-old Mexican amateur who is playing at the 2024 Masters?

Santiago de la Fuente, a 22-year-old golfer from the city of Guadalajara, made his Masters debut this week, just three months after earning an invitation by winning the Latin American Amateur Championship.

The University of Houston senior — just the sixth Mexican golfer to play in the Masters, the most prestigious golf tournament in the United States — is on a roll this year after earning honorable mention All-America honors as a junior last year.

The road to the Masters

In February, De la Fuente was tied for ninth after two rounds of the PGA’s annual Mexico Open, played this year at the Vidanta Vallarta course in the Pacific Coast state of Nayarit. He was the top-finishing amateur in the tournament, tying for 46th.

De la Fuente won the LatAm Amateur — held at the Santa María Golf Club in Panama in January — by 2 strokes over Omar Morales thanks to a final-round score of 64 that earned him his spot in the Masters. Second-place finisher Morales, a 21-year-old from the state of Puebla, is a member of the UCLA golf team.

The win in Panama also earned De la Fuente invitations to play in this year’s U.S. Open and the British Open.

Santiago de la Fuente poses with a Mexican flag and a banner reading "Mexico Open"
De la Fuente had a strong performance at the PGA’s Mexico Open in February. (Mexico Open at Vidanta/Facebook)

Golf Monthly magazine profiled De la Fuente this week in an article entitled “Santiago De la Fuente Facts: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Amateur Star.”

Among the tidbits Golf Monthly shared: Santiago started golfing at the age of 3 and played in his first tournament at the age of 9.

De la Fuente’s Masters debut

At the Masters on Thursday, De la Fuente shot an opening round 76 — 4 over par — after his start time was pushed back 2-and-a-half hours due to a weather delay.

“I was a little nervous on the first tee, but after that things flowed rather well,” De la Fuente said afterward, according to newspaper Milenio. “At the end of the day, golf is golf and we’re not always going to get the desired result.”

“I struck the ball well but I started to feel uncomfortable on the back 9 and unfortunately, I finished poorly.”

The Jalisco native had a rough start to his second round, suffering a triple-bogey on the third hole before finishing with a 6-over par 78, leaving him at 10-over for the tournament, and well outside the projected cut of 4-over.

Augusta National Golf Course aerial view
The 2024 Masters are taking place at the course of the Augusta National Golf Club, seen here. (Masters)

De la Fuente played the Masters course five times before his debut, the most recent being a research mission to prepare him for the tournament.

“I was just doing homework for the tournament,” De La Fuente told Amateur Golf magazine. “I was not really playing, but I was taking a lot of notes and learning where to hit it.”

The other five Mexicans to play at Augusta National are: Juan Antonio Estrada (1962, 1963, 1964), Víctor Regalado (1975, 1979), Álvaro Ortiz (2019), his brother Carlos Ortiz (2021) and Abraham Ancer (2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023).

Ancer boasts the best performance by a Mexican at the Masters, finishing in 13th place with an 8-under-par 280 in 2020.

With reports from Milenio

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