The players are underway in the inaugural Latin America Amateur Championship at Pilar Golf in Buenos Aires.

The waiting is over and the players are underway here in Buenos Aires as the best amateur golfers from South and Central America and The Caribbean do battle for the inaugural Latin America Amateur Championship.

Last night was the official Opening Ceremony for the tournament at Pilar Golf. There were stirring speeches by representatives from each of the founding partners that highlighted the fabulous opportunity for those competing this week.

The winner of this tournament will receive an invitation to the 2015 U.S. Masters. He will also, together with the runner-up or runners-up, earn a place in Final Stage Qualifying for the Open Championship and an exemption to the Amateur Championship. With the involvement of the USGA in the LAAC, the winner of this event will also gain an exemption into the U.S. Amateur Championship and he (and runner(s) up) will be given a place in Sectional Qualifying for the U.S. Open.

“Tomorrow we give birth to a new tradition, one forged with the accomplishments of the heroes of the past and present such as Roberto De Vicenzo, Ángel Cabrera and many others,” said Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne. “These men have paved a way and are the motivation for this young Latin American players to follow in their footsteps. This is one of the reasons why the three organisations have joined forces to create the Latin America Amateur Championship.”

Chairman of the R&A Wilson Sibbett stressed the importance of this tournament in the extension of the R&A’s long-standing work to develop golf in the region.

“The Latin America Amateur Championship will be an excellent platform for the elite amateurs throughout this region, who will compete at the highest level and will gain a valuable experience,” he said. “The R&A is truly delighted to support this event which is a continuation of our constant effort to develop the game in all of Latin America.”

All the competitors were in attendance at the event last night and the excitement amongst them was electric. The climax of the Opening Ceremony featured all the Argentinian players lined up on the practice ground, simultaneously striking a drive off into the fading daylight, triggering a spectacular fireworks display: Inspirational stuff!

Leading contenders for the LAAC

And the early starters are clearly feeling inspired. There are already a number of players under par after only nine holes of the opening round. Jesus Dario Montenegro of Argentina is setting the early pace on two-under.

I’m going out to take a stroll onto the fairways to catch some of the action. Yesterday’s practice day was relaxed and the players were laughing and joking with each other as they made their way round. Now the competition has begun for real, I expect the game faces to be well and truly on!

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