48-year-old Alvaro E. Ortiz of Costa Rica leads the third Latin America Amateur Championship at Club de Golf de Panama after two rounds. He is one ahead of his nearest challengers.
In tougher conditions at Club de Golf de Panama, 48-year-old Alvaro E. Ortiz fired a superb morning round of 66 to post a two-round total of three-under-par in the third Latin America Amateur Championship. The 25-time Costa Rican amateur champion carded five birdies and just one bogey as he climbed to the top of the leaderboard . Ortiz is 31-years older than round one leader Julian Perico and he first played this course 35 years ago. He leads Alejandro Villavicencio of Guatemala and Herik Machado of Brazil by a stroke.
“I played to my strengths today,” he said. “I’m not the longest hitter but I know this course and I know how to manage my way around it. I played to the right spots and it paid off.”
Ortiz, who is an estate agent when not playing golf, is experienced enough to stay philosophical with two rounds to play at Club de Golf de Panama. He’s not yet dreaming of Augusta. The winner of this tournament secures an invitation to play in The Masters.
“I might have grey hair now, I might get a little stiff some times, but being on the leaderboard is enough right now,” he said. “There is certainly a lot of work to do to stay there for Sunday.”
Following Paul Chaplet’s victory in this event last year, Ortiz is looking to make it back-to-back Masters invitations for players from Costa Rica.
The winner of the tournament receives, in addition to an invitation to compete in the Masters Tournament; an exemption into The Amateur Championship, an exemption into the U.S. Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible. In addition, the champion and runner(s)-up receive exemptions into Open Qualifying Series – Final Qualifying with an opportunity to earn a place in The 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, plus an exemption into final stage qualifying for the U.S. Open with an opportunity to earn a place in the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
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Herik Machado of Brazil was another player to post a good morning score. He fired a three-under-par 67 to finish two rounds two-under the card. The 19-year-old from Rio Grande Del Sur started playing golf via a funded scheme in his home country called “New Talents.” He is the sixth of seven children and his first taste of golf was imitating a swing with a sweeping broom at home.
“My cousin was a caddy and she took me to play first of all,” he said. “When I started I couldn’t have believed I would get where I am today, but here I am.”
Another veteran, Alejandro Villavicencio is in contention at two-under. The 37-year-old from Guatemala followed his excellent first round of 65 with a steady 73.
“I’ve played in many tournaments in the past, but nothing compares to this,” he said. “The interviews, the press conferences, it’s amazing really.”
First round leader Julian Perico struggled to follow up his record-breaking first round 64. He carded a 75 to finish at one-under for 36 holes. Although a disappointing day, he is very much still in contention, just two back.
The two round cut fell at nine-over-par, with the top 49 and ties making it through to the weekend.