With the halfway cut coming today and the potential for a place in this year’s Masters at stake, there was everything to play for on day two of the Latin America Amateur Championship. Rob Smith watched the drama unfold…

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Latin America Amateur Championship – Day Two

With the support of The R&A, the Masters and the USGA, the prize for winning the most important amateur tournament in the region this week is access to their flagship events. Specifically, the winner will play in the Masters at Augusta National in April, as well as the British and US Amateur Championships, and potentially both Open Championships as well including The Open at beautiful Royal Portrush.

The overnight leader from day one, Alvaro Ortiz

The opening day’s play at Casa de Campo seemed to favour the morning starters a little as rain showers hit in the afternoon, and it was Mexican Alvaro Ortiz who took full advantage by posting a terrific score of 66. His round even had room for a couple of bogeys, and his 6-under created some room between him and a handful of players on 3-under par.

Competitors approaching the 17th green in the morning sunshine

With the two nines swapped over for this championship, I took the opportunity during the morning to watch some of the action and walk the closing stretch, in particular the breathtaking sequence from holes 14 to 17 which run right along the ocean.

The halfway leader in action

Following his opening round of 69, local golfer Juan Delgado had said that being first out on Friday may work to his advantage. The youngster lives a couple of hours away in the nation’s capital, Santo Domingo, and so knows the course here well. This is his debut in the event and his hopes proved to be well founded as he continued the good work to improve on his opening score by a shot to record a 68 and move to 7-under. This gave him the lunchtime lead.

Julian Perico from Peru firing his way towards the round of the day

As the afternoon play unfolded, the big question was whether overnight leader Ortiz, or indeed any of the other fine players, would catch Delgado. 23-year-old Ortiz has an excellent record in this championship having played in all four previous events and enjoyed three top-3 finishes. In the end, following an ugly double-bogey at the 6th, he rallied well to finish with a sandy par on level for the day to be one off the pace. Leading amateur in the world rankings Luis Fernando Barco closed with an excellent birdie to join Ortiz in second place. Round of the day, and indeed round of the week so far, was a wonderful 65 from Peru’s Julian Perico; a 12-shot improvement in just one day.

The view from the tee at the short but extremely sweet 14th

For the second round, the tee positions at some of the holes were changed around a little. This meant that the beautiful par-3 14th was reduced down from 154 yards yesterday to a mere 108 yards. All the players had to do was make sure they didn’t pitch too long… or short… and definitely not left… or right!

The top of the leaderboard after the halfway cut

Following the conclusion of play the cut for the leading 50 and ties was made at 5-over. Delgado sits proudly at the top of the leaderboard but you would have to think that with 36 holes still to play on a demanding course which plays differently every day, pretty much anything could happen. In many ways it would be great to see someone from the host nation lift the trophy and further boost the golfing prospects of this beautiful country, but most importantly, we can all look forward to a weekend of sparkling golf at the Latin America Amateur Championship.