There are four players in the 2021 U.S. Open field representing Mexico, and that's a big deal.
Four pales in comparison to totals posted by the United States, or even England, Spain or South Africa, but it's a big deal for Mexico because it's the most the U.S. Open has ever seen. It's also a positive sign for the growth of the game worldwide.
Regardless of how they finish, Abraham Ancer, Mario Carmona, and brothers Carlos and Alvaro Ortiz earned a spot in a history book that dates back to 1895. If you ask them, though, it's a record they hope won't stand for long.
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Ancer and the elder Ortiz, Carlos, both played in the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Ancer finished in a tie for 49th, while Ortiz finished a few shots back in a tie for 52nd. Before then, the last U.S. Open to feature more than one representative of Mexico was 1985 when Rafael Alarcon (T-52) and Vic Regalado (Cut) were in the field.
The United States Golf Association (USGA), the governing body behind the U.S. Open, said it doesn't have complete records on the country of origin of every player, and is flexible when it comes to players selecting their national affiliation.
"Players historically have been able to list any club or city with which they are affiliated on championship entry forms. For example, Willie Smith who was Scottish by birth, represented a Mexican golf club for most of his career," a USGA official said.
But, in the cases of the four pros competing at Torrey Pines this year, their allegiances are clear.
Ancer was born in McAllen, Texas, but raised opposite the border in Reynosa, Mexico. He represented Mexico at the 2019 World Cup of Golf, and at the 2019 President's Cup (U.S. vs. the world, minus Europe) under captain Ernie Else. His only loss in the President's Cup was to Tiger Woods in a singles match.
Carmona was born and raised in Juarez, Mexico, and moved to Houston, Texas, as a teenager. He's relatively new to the PGA Tour, and qualified for the U.S. Open by winning a local qualifier, according to ESPN El Paso 600 AM.
The Ortiz brothers were both born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and both represented Team Mexico at multiple Eisenhower Trophy championships. Carlos, the older brother, recently told GolfMagic.com he's hoping to qualify for the 2022 President's Cup and represent the International Team.
While it is rare for the U.S. Open to see multiple representatives from Mexico, let alone four, Mexican and Mexican-American players, both male and female, can be found throughout the pages of golf history.
Lorena Ochoa, also from Guadalajara, amassed 27 wins on the LPGA Tour, including two major championships, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017. Ochoa held the World No. 1 ranking for more than three years.
Gaby Lopez of Mexico City has two wins in her young LPGA Tour career and played for Team Mexico in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.