In testing windy conditions at Mayakoba, Colombia’s Ivan Camilo Ramirez fired a 68 to take the lead in the sixth Latin America Amateur Championship.

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LAAC Round 1: Ivan Camilo Ramirez leads the way

Colombia’s Ivan Camilo Ramirez leads the LAAC after carding an excellent 68 in tough, blustery weather at the El Camaleon course in Mayakoba, Mexico.

Ramirez started slowly with bogeys on the 2nd and 3rd holes but he then went on an exceptional run with five birdies in the space of seven holes from the 5th.

He then made an excellent par save on the difficult 12th to keep his momentum.

The Texas Tech graduate who has played in every LAAC found trouble from the tee on the par-5 13th and had to take a penalty drop.

But the 22-year-old once again scrambled well to save par.

Ranked 74th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Ramirez is a five-time Colombian amateur champion.

He kept the pars coming on the run for home, holing a number of clutch putts and finished with a three-under-par 68.

Chileans Gabriel Morgan Birke and Lukas Roessler both fired opening rounds of one-under par 70.

Birke, ranked 54th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, opened with a birdie two on the 10th hole and he went to the turn in two-under-par 33.

Gabriel Morgan Birke

Gabriel Morgan Birke

Coping admirably with the gusting winds, he birdied the 5th to reach three-under.

But two dropped shots in a row saw him fall back to minus one.

“I played well and putted well too,” he said. “The wind got up and the end of the round in particular was tough. I lost a little concentration to drop those two shots, but overall I played well and I feel good to try to do the same thing tomorrow.”

Lukas Roessler fired a supremely steady round of 70 that included three birdies and just two dropped strokes.

Of the morning finishers, Aaron Terrazas of Mexico carded the next best score.

He finished with a one-over-par 72 featuring two halves of 36.

Terrazas’ father Isaac played football for Mexico in the 1998 World Cup.

With the winds swirling above the mangroves, players were struggling to keep the ball from drifting into the penalty areas that line most of the holes at El Camaleon.

Some 40 players failed to break 80 but there were a couple of notable battles won.

Ian Aldarondo of Puerto Rico closed with a seven but it was just enough to win the fight with Joe 90 while Honduran Geoffry Schacher managed a gutsy bogey on the tough 18th hole to avoid posting triple figures.

With three rounds to go, the players won’t be getting ahead of themselves and the leaders have to try not to think too hard on the incredible prizes the LAAC offers.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to compete in the 2020 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club and, for the first time, will automatically qualify for The 149th Open at Royal St George’s.

The winner also receives full exemptions into The Amateur Championship, U.S. Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible and is exempt into the final stages of qualifying for the 120th U.S. Open Championship at Winged Foot.

Runner(s)-up will be exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The 149th Open and the 120th U.S. Open Championship.

Leaderboard

1       Ivan Camilo Ramirez (Col)              -3

T2     Lukas Roessler (Chi)                       -1

T2     Gabriel Morgan Birke (Chi)              -1

T4     Aaron Terrazas (Mex)                     +1

T4     Nicolas Escobar (Ecu)                     +1 (through 16 holes)

T6     Alejandro Madariaga (Mex)             +2

T6     Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira (Arg)  +2

T6     Abel Gallegos (Arg)                         +2

T6     Enrique Valverde (Dom)                  +2

T6     Guilherme Nunes Grinberg (Bra)     +2 (through 16 holes)

The top-50 and ties will make the cut.