Why two pros rushed to finish and another decided to call it a day
Zach Johnson stepped to the 18th tee at El Camaleón Golf Club and launched a ball into the sky. Minutes later he walked down the fairway and pumped his fist. But while Johnson and Mark Hubbard played the final hole of the Mayakoba Golf Classic on Sunday, the third member of their group, Carlos Ortiz, put his clubs away.
Ortiz, 28, who is still looking for his first career PGA Tour victory, decided not to play the final hole and will instead come back on Monday morning to finish. Ortiz is one of seven players who will return on Monday as the final round was suspended due to darkness on Sunday evening.
Johnson, Hubbard and Ortiz were grouped together for an early start on Sunday morning, as Thursday rains pushed back the start of the tournament. Those who finished on Sunday played 36 holes, and players were not regrouped for the fourth round on Sunday afternoon.
With a suspension of play looming due to darkness, several players rushed to finish their final rounds (the horn eventually blew at 6:11 p.m. ET). In the Johnson-Hubbard-Ortiz group, Johnson went to the 18th tee while his playing partners were still finishing on the 17th. According to PGA Tour rules, a group is allowed to complete a hole if at least one player in the group has teed off before a horn blows to signal the end of play due to darkness. Johnson’s ball in the air meant they wouldn’t be coming back on Monday. And while that strategy worked for Johnson and Hubbard, it wasn’t right for Ortiz. He made the rare decision to wait and play the hole on Monday despite his playing partners finishing.
The choice Ortiz made makes sense, too. This 18th is no joke. The brutal par-4 is the hardest hole on the course and surrendered just two birdies all of Sunday. Johnson bogeyed it to shoot 69 and is 11 back of the co-leaders, and Hubbard made double bogey to shoot 74 and is 18 back. Ortiz, on the other hand, is 19 under and just one behind leaders Vaughn Taylor and Brendon Todd.
“The whole plan was to get in contention the last nine holes, and I’m in contention with one hole to play,” Ortiz said afterward. “I think I have a really good chance for tomorrow.”
There’s even more on the line for Ortiz, too. A native of Mexico, he’ll have a home crowd behind him. Can he grab his first-ever PGA Tour victory in his 96th start? He decided to wait until Monday. We will too.
“Winning everywhere is special,” he said, “and winning a tournament in front of my family would be a dream come true.”