Villa Allende, Cordoba, Argentina -- Will Kropp, a 24-year-old rookie from the University of Oklahoma, managed to hold off local favorite Ángel Cabrera to win the 83rd Abierto OSDE del Centro presented by FiberCorp on Sunday, April 20.
His victory at the Cordoba Golf Club, in Cabrera’s hometown of Villa Allende, was his first in just five career starts on the NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
“My plan for the first half of the Tour season was to get adjusted to traveling across the region and playing new courses,” said Kropp, who finished in a tie for third only three weeks ago in Guatemala. “It’s really a great bonus to win a tournament as important as this one early in the year.”
Kropp, a native of Edmond, Okla., finished at 8-under par 276, one shot ahead of the 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters champion. Cabrera was trying to win the tournament for the ninth time in his career and was also seeking to become the first three-time champion on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
“When you beat a player of Ángel Cabrera’s caliber it feels great, especially in a place like this. The crowds out here were unbelievable, so if feels really good to win here, and I’m really excited about the way I did it,” said Kropp, who was an All-American at OU in 2012.
Kropp entered the day in second place, playing on the last group along with 54-hole leader Fermín Noste, who finished in a tie for fourth. It didn’t take him long to take control with consecutive birdies on holes No. 2 and 3. Although he made a bogey on hole No. 6, nobody was able to catch him.
Playing ahead of Kropp on the penultimate pairing, Cabrera was able to cut the deficit to one shot on two occasions.
Kropp’s birdie at the par-4 hole No. 17 proved decisive. There, he followed a terrific approach shot by sinking a downhill 20-footer that increased his lead to two strokes with only one hole to play.
“That was big. I felt good over a couple of putts leading up to there. They didn’t go in, so when that went in that was a big relief," Kropp explained. "I don’t usually get pumped up, but I think I gave it a little fist pump. I was pretty excited at that point, but I tried not to get too excited because I obviously knew I had the last hole.”
With the local star making a par at the par-4 hole No. 18, Kropp had the luxury of being able to make bogey for the win. His approach shot landed a little too far on the green and it rolled down the hill behind to bring a little bit of drama. With his ball 20 yards down the green, Kropp hit a beautiful flop shot and two-putted for the win.
A professional player since June, Kropp had already picked up a win on the Adams Tour last year. On PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, which he joined by finishing in a tie for the fifth spot at the Qualifying Tournament played in Peru in January, he is now the No. 2 ranked player in the Order of Merit, behind Colombia's Marcelo Rozo.