Playoff birdie earns Paraguay's Cespedes first TLA win
Cordoba, Argentina - By the time Hector Cespedes stepped up to the 18th tee for the playoff, momentum clearly had deserted him.
Two late bogeys in the final round by Cespedes combined with the theatrics of Argentina's Joaquin Estevez, who birdied four of the final seven holes for a best-of-the-day 66, produced the two-man showdown for the 80th Campeonato Abierto OSDE del Centro presented by Claro.
Estevez tried to end matters quickly, pummeling his tee shot on the drivable par-4 finishing hole. Then he discovered, too, that momentum can be fickle.
Estevez flailed from a green-side bunker, and Cespedes, who played the hole conventionally, drained a 20-foot birdie to claim an improbable victory, his first on the Tour de las Americas.
“I know all of you are stunned by my victory, but I have worked very hard in order to achieve a win as significant as this one,” said Cespedes, a 30-year old TLA member from Paraguay. Cespedes, who posted a closing 71, and Estevez finished regulation at 5-under 279 at Cordoba Golf Club in Cordoba, Argentina.
Cespedes victory seemed unlikely not only because of his stumbles at Nos. 15 and 17, but because Estevez had demonstrated just recently that he can unleash a closing kick. Six weeks ago, he authored a come-from-behind win at the TLA's European Challenge Tour III Copa Antioquia in Colombia.
But Estevez expressed no regret.
“Things didn’t turn my way in the playoff, but he made a great birdie and I executed a poor bunker shot," he said.
I had a great day of golf today and because of it I had a chance to make it into the playoff.”
Céspedes and Estévez finished three strokes clear of the rest of the field, with Argentina’s Paulo Pinto (67), Gustavo Acosta (71) and Ariel Cañete (73), sharing third place.
Local favorite Angel Cabrera closed with a 3-under 68. He struggled much of the week, but the solid finish moved him into T-14. Meanwhile, countryman and defending champion Andrés Romero shot 69 and finished in 16th place.
The Tour de las Americas' next tournament – Televisa Players Championship in Acapulco, Mexico – is scheduled for May 19-22. It will be followed by the Peru Open in Lima, Peru, May 26-29.