On the eve of the 2016 LAAC (Latin America Amateur Championship), what do we know and what can we expect from the second instalment of the tournament?
6 – The course is tough
There are obvious hazards on the Teeth of the Dog course at Casa de Campo, principal among them: the ocean. It’s a factor on seven of the 18 holes and, depending on the wind, its presence is extremely threatening. But there’s more for the players to worry about. From the tee, the layout is relatively generous, but out-of-bounds lurks on a number of holes: most are lined by luxurious properties and if a ball ends up on the front lawn of one of them, the perpetrator will be teeing it up again.
Rules of golf – boundary walls:
Then the greens and surrounds appear challenging. The putting surfaces are currently pretty firm and that will place a premium on finding the fairways. If approaching from the rough it’ll be extremely difficult to get any stop on the ball. Then, chipping and pitching looks potentially tough, the ball is rolling out and a deft touch will be required. That might suit:
7 – Juan Alvarez
The Uruguayan is the highest ranked player in the field, currently 34th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He performed well in this tournament last year and has won seven ranking tournaments since then. He finished second in the Argentine Open on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and has represented Argentina in the World Amateur Team Championship on three occasions.
His short game is his strength and that could come to the fore this week.
“Yes, short game is my strongest asset,” he said. “But I continue to work on it.” He’s another man trying to put The Masters out of his mind. “First I have to play well, then I can think about the Masters.” But then he let slip, “I dreamed of playing at Augusta when I was a little boy, then comes a tournament which gives you a chance of that… it’s pretty cool.”
8 – Local knowledge…
… Could play a part this week. 18-year-old Juan Jose Guerra of the Dominican Republic who is a freshman at Nova Southeastern University has played this course many times and has been here for almost a month practising. “Yes, of course it gives me an advantage over the field,” he said. “I just have to make it count.”
9 – The par 3s
They could be important, particularly those on the water’s edge. The 5th doesn’t look too intimidating on the card at just 160 yards, but it’s to a small green jutting out into the sea. Then the 7th is something of a brute. It’s 229 yards and 205 of those are carry across the water, there’s no bailout. Today the wind was helping and most still required a hybrid to reach. If the wind turns to hurt, it could be a monster.
Driving into the wind:
10 – The Scouts are out
We know for certain that at least one US college coach is already here this week to look at prospective recruits. Santiago Gomez of Colombia confirmed his coach is here this week, not just to look at his swing. He’s on the lookout for talented youngsters to recruit for Nova Southeastern. We’re only an hour’s flight from Miami here so it’s not much of a hop for many coaches to come down for a look. They will only be able to target 50% of the field mind you – the other half of those entered are already on the books of US colleges.