There was a keen sense of level-headedness for Carlos Ortiz as he sank the putt which confirmed his victory at the recent Houston Open – his first tournament win on the PGA Tour. A moment which most golfers would celebrate with fist pumps and punches of the air was handled by Ortiz with a mere wave to the crowd and a nod of the head.
But his understated reaction does not downplay the significance of his victory. At 29 years of age, the 2020 Houston Open was Ortiz’s 118th PGA Tour start, and victory was the rich reward for years of toil on the tour. He also became the first Mexican to win a PGA Tour title since Victor Regalado won the Quad Cities Open in 1978 – ending a wait of 42 years for another Mexican champion and adding an extra degree of pride to his achievement.
“It feels awesome. It’s been a while since I have won – it feels good,” he said afterwards. “I made some huge putts on the front nine, that kick-started my round, and after that I played really good, I didn’t miss many shots, and it was awesome finishing with the birdie on 18.”
Now, Ortiz’s attention will turn to the rest of the season, where he will be eager to add more titles to his name. His win is reflective of the throng of unexpected winners of golf tournaments since the sport returned from its coronavirus-enforced hiatus. Several players have won their maiden PGA Tour titles, while some older players have found a new lease of life, with Ortiz the latest to benefit from golf’s slightly more levelled playing field in recent times.
He’ll be watching on and assessing his colleagues at the upcoming Masters, and his victory in Houston may just inspire a few of the contenders who are not necessarily fancied in the 2020 US Masters odds. The Augusta tournament is one that takes no prisoners, but the theme of somewhat surprising winners this season will give many players hope as they head to the Masters.
The Augusta major is arguably the most coveted title in golf, and if any year is likely to throw up a surprise winner, it’s 2020. The various budding amateur contenders, along with the host of players who don’t go to Georgia as one of the tournament favourites, will be eager to etch their name into Masters folkore.
As for Ortiz, it will be interesting to see whether he is buoyed by his victory and performs well in his upcoming events, or if he will be so exhausted after the highs of the Houston Open that his performance will dip and he’ll struggle to compete. So often in golf, a tournament victory for a player is followed by a run of disappointing results, such is the intensive and competitive nature of the sport.
But the Mexican has proven that he has the ability to be a tournament winner, and that he can old his nerve under pressure and deliver when the stakes are high. As golfers descend on Augusta, many will be hoping that it is their name that is in the headlines next.