Campos’s fans hung in there despite not winning Puerto Rico Open
SAN JUAN – After maintaining a lead in the Puerto Rico Open, Puerto Rican golfer Rafael Campos did not win the coveted competition, but that did not stop fans from getting pictures taken with him and signed golf balls.
Campos told Caribbean Business he was proud to have made a good showing at the event at a time when the island’s economic problems are on everyone’s minds.
“I am proud of having represented Puerto Rico in this tournament. Thank God it was a good week. Today, regrettably, was not a the best of days, but the support I felt from fans, from Puerto Ricans…the ‘boricua’ heart is still there. We could have a crisis, but that was not felt,” he said.
He added that the performance of Puerto Rico’s team at the World Baseball Classic, where they came in second; the gold medal obtained by tennis player Mónica Puig in last year’s Olympic Games in Brazil; and “what I could have done here should serve as inspiration and motivation for all Puerto Ricans to know they should never give up.”
Rafa Campos is -5 after 15. First round action will resume tomorrow at 7am. pic.twitter.com/c0EJii2fHh
— PR Open 2017 (@PuertoRicoOpen) March 23, 2017
Campos led the field at Coco Beach most of the weekend and the thought of a Puerto Rican winning the tournament caught the eye of numerous golf fans. The game, however, was won by D.A. Points. Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (64), Bill Lunde (68) and former U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau (67) tied for second at Coco Beach Golf and Country Club.
Sam Saunders, one week after missing the cut at the first Arnold Palmer Invitational without his grandfather there as the host, closed with a 65 and tied for fifth. Also tying for fifth was former U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein, who plays the European Tour and was in Puerto Rico on a sponsor’s exemption.
That sends both of them to the Houston Open next week for finishing in the top 10. Six others in the top 10 were eligible for the Houston Open, where the winner gets an invitation to the Masters.
Chris Stroud, with his first 54-hole lead as he tried to win his first PGA Tour event in 277 starts, closed with a 71 and finished four shots behind.
Points opened the final round of the Puerto Rico Open with five straight birdies, and then overcame a rugged stretch by saving pars and piling up enough birdies for a 6-under 66 on Sunday and a two-shot victory. He closed with a birdie to finish at 20-under 268.
It was the third PGA Tour victory of his career, and felt just as sweet as when he won at Pebble Beach with Bill Murray as his partner, and four years ago at the Houston Open to get to the Masters.
This won’t send him to Augusta National because it was played opposite a World Golf Championship. It was no less important for Points, who lost his card a year ago and now has a full two-year exemption.
“I was just really proud of myself for finding some way – hitting about as low as I’ve ever been golf-wise and finding my out – and then to be able to hang in there and win today is something that I wasn’t sure if I had in me,” he said. “And I’m really proud of myself.”
Even though the victory doesn’t get him into the Masters, Points will be at The Players Championship in May and the PGA Championship in August, along with access to smaller fields like Colonial and the Memorial. And he starts out next year on Maui at the Tournament of Champions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.