MEXICO CITY, Mexico – The year kicked off with a strong start in Hawaii at the SBS Tournament of Champions where 23-year-old Justin Thomas held off Hideki Matsuyama for the third win of his PGA TOUR career. Thomas joins past champions of the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson as players who have qualified and committed to play when the tournament comes to Mexico City, March 1-5, at Club de Golf Chapultepec.
Johnson, winner of the 2015 Mexico Championship, is coming off his most successful season on the PGA TOUR that saw the 32-year-old win three times on TOUR and be named PGA TOUR Player of the Year. Johnson won his first major championship title at the U.S. Open in June. The Myrtle Beach, S.C., native then won his next start at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational – his third victory in a World Golf Championships event – before capping off his season with a win in the FedExCup Playoffs at the BMW Championship.
Reed won the 2014 Mexico Championship and has continued to prove himself as one of the PGA TOUR’s brightest young stars. The now five-time PGA TOUR winner collected his lone victory on the 2015-16 season at THE NORTHERN TRUST, the traditional opening event of the FedExCup Playoffs where he held off Rickie Fowler and other pursuers to win the title by a stroke. But perhaps Reed’s most memorable performance of 2016 came in the Ryder Cup, where the 26-year-old secured 3.5 points in a winning effort for the United States, which ended a streak of three losses in the biennial matches with Europe.
Mickelson, a 42-time winner on the PGA TOUR, won the 2009 Mexico Championship and is coming off of a strong 2015-16 season in which he advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs for the 10th consecutive time in his career. Most notably, his runner-up finish at the Open Championship at Royal Troon to Henrik Stenson, marking his 11th runner-up performance in a major championship, second only to Jack Nicklaus. He ended the season on a high note as he made his 11th Ryder Cup appearance and went 2-1-1 in his four matches to help the United States to a 17-11 victory in the biennial event.
Thomas, winner of this past week’s SBS Tournament of Champions, also joins Mickelson, Reed and Johnson who are past champions of the Hawaii 2017 kickoff event. Mickelson in 1994 and 1998, while Johnson took home the trophy in 2013, and Reed won in a playoff in 2015. All four players are qualified and committed to playing the Mexico Championship when it makes a debut in Mexico City this year.
Those players inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking as of Feb. 20 and Feb. 27 who are not already exempt will officially qualify for the Mexico Championship. Additionally, the top 10 players in the FedExCup points list as of Feb. 27 who are not already exempt will also qualify.
A new qualification for this year’s championship is that the highest-ranked Mexican player in the Official World Golf Ranking as of Feb. 20 that is not otherwise eligible will qualify for the Mexico Championship.
With less than fifty days before the start of the Mexico Championship, Rodolfo Cazaubón (ranked No. 470) is the highest-ranked Mexican player in the Official World Golf Ranking that is not otherwise eligible, and is followed by Sebastián Vázquez (No. 543) and Carlos Ortiz (No. 581).
Cazaubón, 27, born in Tampico and had three victories on the 2015 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Tour. Additionally, he had two outstanding performances last year that allowed him to climb to his spot atop the Mexican rankings. In March, he finished T3 at the Puerto Rico Open at Coco Beach and he followed that with a performance in September at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016 where he finished T30.
Vázquez is a hometown favorite, born in Mexico City, and holds a solo win on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Tour at the 2012 Puerto Rico Classic, a win he gained in just his second professional start on the Tour. Ortiz was a three-time Web.com Tour winner in 2014, and last competed at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba for a finish at No. 55. He’s the only player of the three in the race to the finish to compete this week in the Web.com Tour’s The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Interestingly enough, all three players comprised a team competing for the 2012 Eisenhower Trophy in which they represented the country of Mexico and took a second-place finish behind the United States.
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