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Latinoamérica graduate Byron Smith wins on the Tour

By winning the Rex Hospital Open, Smith joined Chile’s Benjamín Alvarado in a duo of Latinoamérica graduates with victories on the Tour

Smith claimed medalist honors at one of the Qualifying Tournaments for the 2012 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season. Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR

RALEIGH, N.C. (May 27, 2014) – California’s Byron Smith, the man who claimed medalist honors at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament in August of 2012, cruised to a stress-free 5-under 66 Sunday to win the Rex Hospital Open by four strokes for his first career title on the Tour. 

Smith shared the 54-hole lead at TPC Wakefield Plantation and distanced himself from the pack, getting to his 16-under 268 total. He finished four better than Scott Gardiner (69) and Harold Varner III (70).

With Mexico’s Roberto Díaz (70) tying four fourth, and Florida’s Ryan Blaum (69) finishing solo seventh, this was the first event ever featuring a trio of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica graduates inside the top-10.

“This means everything. It’s a long time coming,” said the 33-year old Smith, who was on the golf team for two years but never played in a tournament during days as a philosophy major at Pepperdine. “They say golf is a game of mostly failures and I’ve had plenty of that. This is what makes it all worth it. It’s amazing. It’s the biggest moment in my golf career up to this point by far.”

Smith moved from No. 66 to No. 10 on the Tour money list. He now leads a group of four PGA TOUR Latinoamérica graduates inside the Tour’s Top 30, with Florida’s Ryan Blaum holding the 19th spot, Colombia’s Manuel Villegas, ranked 22nd, and Mexico’s Oscar Fraustro, ranked 30th.

After finishing first at the Qualifying Tournament for the inaugural season of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Smith made the cut in four of his five starts on Tour and collected three top-25 finishes. His best finish was T9 at the 2012 Lexus Peru Open, where he was tie for the 36-hole lead.

His 2012 Latinoamérica season was cut short due to his success on the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament, where he advanced to the final stage and finished in a tie for 64th to earn full status on the Tour.

With his victory in Raleigh, Smith joined Chile’s Benjamín Alvarado in a duo of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica graduates who have won on the Tour. Playing with a sponsor exemption, Alvarado won the Brasil Classic in April of 2013. He went on to finish the Tour regular season ranked No. 19 on the money list and is now playing on the PGA TOUR.

More on Smith’s Tour win. 

Watch: Final Round Highlights

Watch: Byron Smith winner's interview

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