Feb. 12, 2014
DENTON, Texas - Five years ago, when he arrived on campus at the University of North Texas, Carlos Ortiz spoke little English, had few friends and looked anything like a superstar in the making. Five years later, he is just that.
Ortiz, one of the most decorated Mean Green golfers in school history, has launched his professional career and is set to play his first professional event on the Web.com Tour Thursday.
When Ortiz arrived in Denton from Jalisco, Mexico, he was one of two crown-jewel recruits for new head coach Brad Stracke. Five years later, after four all-conference selections, four-straight berths in the NCAA regional, two conference titles and one individual conference crown, Ortiz begins his dream of becoming a professional in hopes of playing on the PGA Tour.
“Playing at North Texas and collegiate golf really help me a lot and got me ready to play professionally,” Ortiz said.
It didn’t take long for Ortiz to show signs of becoming a star at North Texas. His freshman season, he shot the third-lowest round in the nation with a 64 in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Championship. That mark was also a course record at the Robert Trent Jones Course in Muscle Shoals, Ala.
His career took off as a sophomore. Ortiz captured three individual titles and had nine top-20 finishes that season. His stroke average was the lowest in recorded history at North Texas, something not easy to do.
Although Ortiz could never match what he did his sophomore year, that didn’t prevent him from earning four straight all-conference selections. Ortiz, along with former teammate and good friend Rodolfo Cazaubon, went into the history books as just the second and third players in school history to be named all-conference four straight years.
Ortiz finished his career at North Texas last May, and instantly started preparing to turn pro.
Qualifying school, or Q-school as it’s known as, isn’t easy. The PGA Tour does it that way on purpose. Ortiz began his journey at Q-school in early December.
There are three stages of Q-school, the first two consisting of four rounds each, leading into the final stage and a marathon six rounds of golf. All the while you have to outplay aspiring professionals and even some old pros trying to hang on.
Ortiz navigated his way through the first two stages, while Cazaubon fell short, and entered the final stage with a chance at a full exemption on the line. Ortiz shined all six rounds, finishing in a tie for 15th place out of 150 golfers in the final stage qualifying. Ortiz shot 17-under par at the PGA West Stadium Course, with three rounds in the 60s and under par in five of the six rounds, good enough to earn that exemption.
“Q-school was hard, really hard, but I had been working on my game and was able to make it,” Ortiz said.
His professional career has already started with a bang. Last week, Ortiz captured the Club La Prairie of Potosi in Colombia, an event put on by the Argos Professional Golf Tour. Ortiz ran away from the field, winning by five strokes, and becoming the “first foreigner” to win an event on the Argos Tour, as a local write-up said.
Ortiz isn’t satisfied, however. He has his sights set on higher goals: earning his PGA Tour Card.
“I have been working really hard on all aspects of my game, and my goal for this year is to get my PGA Tour Card,” he said. “I’m very happy and proud to have won my first professional event, and I will focus now on the Web.com Tour.”
His journey as a professional begins tomorrow morning on the Web.com Tour at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship in Bogota, Colombia.
The fresh faced boy that arrived in Denton five years ago has grown into a full-blown professional with superstardom within his grasp.