First, let’s set the scene: It is the final round of the 2014 Puerto Rico Open Golf Tournament contested on the Coco Beach Golf Course at Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Tom Kite designed the wonderful golf course, specifically to host the Puerto Rico Open, first contested in 2008. The Puerto Rico Open, sponsored by the Puerto Rico Golf Association, was founded to focus the golf spotlight on Puerto Rico as a winter golf vacation venue. The tournament faced the challenge of competing against the WGC Cadillac Championship played the same week although the Golf Channel televised all four days. Interestingly the WGC Championship was held at the Blue Monster, at Trump National Doral in Doral, FL. (Two TOUR golf events on Trump courses on the same weekend.)
Like any PGA TOUR event, there was a strong field present for the 2014 Puerto Rico Open. During the final round, journeyman professional, Andrew Loupe was off to a fast start and moving up the leaderboard. Loupe started the tournament with back-to-back 70’s followed by a fine 65. A bogie on the first hole of the final round did not discourage Andrew who had played the front nine 8 under during the first three rounds. After the opening bogie, Andrew made three straight birdies followed by an eagle and another birdie. With the adrenalin flowing, Andrew was five under after six, despite the stumble on the first. A par, bogie, birdie finish gave him a 31 on the front and a total of 14 under par total through 63 holes. The fire went out on Andrews round when he double bogied the 14.
After a routine par on 15, Andrew’s ball found the green in regulation on the par-4, 16th. THEN IT HAPPENED!! The event that placed an asterisk on the tournament and Andrew’s round.
Critters have been an unpredictable part of golf since the days of shepherds smacking rocks with their crooks while tending their sheep. Seemingly, a full-grown iguana appeared out of nowhere. The hungry, modern-day dinosaur thought he had found a mid-day snack of a beautiful white egg.
This was not a particularly beautiful iguana like many of his cousins who sport a variety of skin color and patterns. Then you notice it; the ball-eating iguana had a bobbed tail. It appeared he had sacrificed about one third of his tail to escape being lunch for some other iguana eating island critter. The tail of an iguana is approximately 1½ times the length of the animal’s body. However the stub of that tail that remained was perfectly segmented in even symmetrical stripes of grey/tan and white.
The iguana attempted to pick up the ball. Then pushed it around the green with his nose. Eventually the iguana realized the golf ball was not edible and scampered back into the protective jungle along the fairway.
Andrew was allowed to replace his ball on the original spot without penalty. A routine two putt for par followed by two more pars gave our journeyman pro a 69 good for a share of 12th place. The $77,000 in price money made the week worthwhile. But without the invasion of the ball eating iguana, Andrew Loupe’s T-12 would never be mentioned again.
Authors Note: Donald Trump had no ownership interest in the Coco Beach Golf Course at Trump International Puerto Rico. He sold the use of his name to the developer. In 2016 the bankrupted golf course was sold at auction for two million and change. The Blue Monster continues to succeed.