Four players lead the Latin American Amateur Championship on four-under-par after a first day of extremely good scoring at Pilar Golf in Buenos Aires.

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Four players lead the Latin American Amateur Championship on four-under-par after a first day of extremely good scoring at Pilar Golf in Buenos Aires.

Juan Alvarez of Uruguay played some superb golf to post a four-under-par 68, firing five birdies and just one bogey.

“I’m just going to try to keep that form going,” he said. “I’m a former caddy, the son of a caddy and I’m just so excited to have this opportunity.”

Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico birdied the last to match Alvarez at four-under-par. The brother of PGA Tour professional Carlos Ortiz, Alvaro played some excellent golf and could have been further under par had he been a little more aggressive with his putting.

“Yeah, I left a few short on the back nine,” he said. “And the only one I did get there went in. But I played great today and I just have to stay patient.”

Also reaching four-under-par was Argentina’s Gaston Bertinotti. Out in 33, it looked as though Bertinotti might lead by himself at the end of proceedings, but the birdies dried up somewhat on the run for home and he too finished with a 68.

Ian Facey of Jamaica was one of the last finishers and he posted a 68 after a fine round that included just one bogey.

Teeing off first from the 10th tee, home favourite Alejandro Tosti made the early running. He was the first man to card a sub-70 score with a solid 69 (three-under-par.) It could have been better for Tosti had it not been for a double-bogey at the par-4 5th hole.

The other morning starters to reach three-under-par were Joaquin Bonjour, also from Argentina, and Jose Narro of Mexico. An eagle two at the 12th was the highlight of Narro’s round. He fired his second shot towards the pin, heard clapping but couldn’t see it finish. It wasn’t until he got up to the green that he realised he’d holed out.

50-year-old Michael White from the Cayman Islands proved he can mix it with the youngsters, knocking it round in a highly respectable 73.

Despite good scoring from the majority of the field – some 30 players finished at par or better – not every player found it such easy going. Haiti’s Gerald Mathis hadn’t made a par when he stepped up to his final tee, Pilar’s testing 9th hole.

At 38-over-par, he could have been forgiven for losing belief. But Mathis stuck to his guns and played two solid shots to the front of the heavily sloping green. His approach putt took the wrong side of a ridge and drifted away from the cup leaving him a 25-footer, uphill and sloping dramatically from left to right.

It looked like a par would remain elusive, but he rolled the putt up the hill and straight into the cup for an unlikely four and a round of 110. In tribute to the great Maurice Flitcroft, Mathis’s round could be described as “a blizzard of double and triple bogeys, marred by a solitary par.”

Latin America Amateur Championship – Round 1 Scores
Pilar Golf, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Par 72, 7,255 yards

T1    Juan Alvarez (Uru)        68
T1    Alvaro Ortiz (Mex)            68
T1    Gaston Bertinotti (Arg)        68
T1    Ian Facey (Jam)            68
T5    Alejandro Tosti (Arg)        69
T5    Joaquin Bonjour (Arg)        69
T5    Jose Narro (Mex)            69
T5    Santiago Gomez (Col)        69
T5    Juan Sebastian Munoz (Col)    69
T5    Jaime Lopez Rivarola (Arg)    69
T5    Lucas Rosso (Chi)            69