News & Opinion

Carlos Ortiz claims Houston Open and delayed Masters invitation

Carlos Ortiz wins 2020 Houston Open
Carlos Ortiz celebrates a birdie and 2-stroke victory Sunday in the Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course, the 1st triumph on the PGA Tour for the 29-year-old Mexican.

Mexican birdies 2 of his final 3 holes to cap a final-round 65 and a 2-stroke victory at Memorial Park for his 1st PGA Tour triumph

In any other year, a victory in the PGA Tour's Houston Open would earn the winner a last-minute spot in the next week’s Masters.

But, as you might have noticed, 2020 is not like any other year. And so it is with the Houston Open’s relationship with the Masters.

Carlos Ortiz birdied two of his final three holes Sunday to cap a 13-under 267 total and a two-stroke victory at Memorial Park Golf Course (scores). It didn’t earn him a spot in the upcoming Masters; that first trip down Magnolia Lane will have to wait until next spring and the customary April slot for the Masters. But a Tour exemption through the 2022-23 season and $1.26 million from the $7 million purse is sure to soothe any disappointment at having next week off.

“I played great, and it was challenging at the end,” Ortiz said. “I’m really happy and pleased the way I played.”

It was his first career victory, in his 118th career start, for Ortiz, 29, a Mexican who played college golf at North Texas and makes his home in Dallas. He had won three times in 2014 on the PGA Tour’s top developmental tour, which was known then as the Tour.

Ortiz is only the third Mexican to win on the PGA Tour, joining Victor Regalado (1974 Pleasant Valley Classic, 1978 Ed McMahon-Jaycees Quad Cities Open) and Cesar Sanudo (1970 Azalea Open Invitational).

Dustin Johnson, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, closed with a 65 to share second with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who climbed the leaderboard with a 63, which matched the low round of the week.

The Houston Open was the first PGA Tour event in the U.S. since March to allow spectators, limited to 2,000 per day to comply with local COVID-19 safety guidelines. For years, the Houston Open served as the Tour's final tuneup for the Masters. But Houston lost its spring slot last year when the 2019-20 schedule was released, though it regained its spot as a Masters warmup when Augusta National delayed its tournament until the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Memorial Park, a century-old municipal course just west of downtown, was renovated last year by Tom Doak, with insight from player consultant Brooks Koepka, who surged into a tie for fifth on the strength of consecutive 65s on the weekend. Memorial Park had played host to the PGA Tour in 1947 and 1951-63.

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.