“I played solid all day,” said Hernandez, who entered the round tied for second with Ryan Burgess, a stroke behind Hannes Ronneblad. “It was hard out there, but I just kept fighting all day, made some good putts, hit some good shots.”
The shot that put him over the top came when he eagled the par-5 12th hole with a 25-foot chip shot from down a hill. It gave him a five-stroke lead with six holes to play and allowed him to play conservative the rest of the way.
“That kept me going,” Hernandez said. “That chip-in on 12 was a booster.”
Hernandez shot even par the rest of the way.
Even while playing conservatively, he was able to sink a 30-foot putt on No. 16 for birdie that proved to spectators it was his day and that he could do nothing wrong.
Hernandez, 21, a senior at Arizona, said it was the first tournament he has been able to win in “three or four” years since he won a national junior golf event in Mexico.
It was not an easy field for him to conquer.
The South Beach International Amateur, which began with 198 high-end players, consisted of 70 international amateurs from 24 countries.
That’s the largest international contingency in an American amateur tournament — the next highest was the U.S. Amateur with 49 international players.
Hernandez will look to carry his momentum into the spring semester of golf with his fellow Wildcats.
He hopes to one day turn professional and said the SBIA victory will do a lot for his confidence that he can accomplish that.
For now, he will return home to his parents, who could not make the trip to watch him play, with a giant glass trophy for the holiday season.
Final-round results: 1. Juan Pablo Hernandez, Mexico City, 273 (-10); 2. Hank Lebioda, Winter Springs, 277 (-6); 3. Tommy Mou, Taiwan, 279 (-4); 4. Sebastian Soderber, Ojersjo, Sweden, and Jay Vandeven, Bristol, Va., 280 (-3); 6. Tyler Gann, Tomball, Texas, 281 (-2); 7. Hannes Ronneblad, Kungsbacka, Sweden, 282 (-1); 8. Ryan Burgess, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and Rodolfo Cazaubon, Mexico, and Victor Perez, Semeac, France, 283 (even).
Germany’s Alexander Marlari shot a 3-under 68 on Trump National’s Blue Monster course to take the first-round lead in the 16-18 division of the Doral Publix Classic that continues Saturday and Sunday with free admission for the public.
The older age groups teed off in three-club wind at the 31st annual tournament, which is played at the newly renamed Trump National Doral.
The event is commonly known as the World’s Largest Junior Golf Tournament, as 48 nations are represented.