Alvaro Ortiz and Jose Andres Miranda lead LAAC

After rounds of 68, two players hold a slender advantage at the top of the board

Alvaro Ortiz is co-leader in the LAAC
Alvaro Ortiz is co-leader in the LAAC
(Image credit: LAAC)

After opening rounds of 68, Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico and Ecuador’s Jose Andres Miranda lead the Latin America Amateur Championship at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.

Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz, whose older brother Carlos plays on the PGA Tour, was one of the early starters at Casa de Campo and he posted a fine four-under par 68 that featured five birdies and just one dropped shot.

The 20-year-old is a freshman at the University of Arkansas and is the top-ranked Mexican in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He was tied third in last year’s LAAC.

“I had a good experience last year and I learned a lot. It helped me to control the nerves this year. Playing at college has helped me too and my course management is so much better now,” he said. “It would be great to qualify for The Masters before my older brother!”

Jose Andres Miranda of Ecuador matched Ortiz’s score of 68. Just like the Mexican, Miranda racked up five birdies and suffered just one bogey.

Another Mexican Raul Pereda de la Huerta fired a 69, as did Erick Juan Morales of Puerto Rico. Morales fought back admirably after opening with a triple bogey seven. Late finisher Daniel Kenji Ishii of Brazil also finished the day on three-under.

There were mixed fortunes for the pre-tournament favourites. Defending champion Matias Dominguez of Chile was three-over through his first seven holes but he recovered well with five birdies and just one further bogey to card a one-under-par 71.

It was a similar start for Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti. Last year’s runner-up was also three over on his front nine, he fought back well with three birdies, but his score unravelled on the last two holes. He finished bogey, double bogey for a 75. Brazil’s Andre Tourinho also struggled to 75 and Juan Alvarez of Uruguay, the highest ranked player coming into the week, carded a 73. Tosti, Tourinho and Alvarez are by no means out of it though and, with three rounds to play, all are capable of making a comeback.

The scoring was impressive overall, given the difficulty of the Pete Dye-designed Teeth of the Dog course and the fact a fairly stiff breeze was blowing for most of the day. 23 players were at par or better with just a few groups left to finish at time of writing.

Andy Sullivan on playing in a crosswind:

In further news from the 2016 LAAC, the founding partners confirmed the venue for next year’s tournament. The Club de Golf de Panama will welcome the third instalment of the championship.

The historic club was founded in 1922 and they moved to their present site in 1977. Panama has a great history of hosting significant elite competition. Inaugurated in the 1950s, the Panama Open Championship produced winners including Sam Snead, Roberto De Vicenzo and Arnold Palmer. Since 2004 the Tour’s Panama Claro Championship has been hosted at the Club de Golf de Panama.

“As golf has continued to grow in our country, Panama has attracted prestigious golf tournaments, and we feel very fortunate to host and welcome this premier championship to Panama for the first time,” said Jorge Loaiza, President of Asociacion de Golf de Panama.

USGA Executive Director Mike Davis announced that Panama would host the 2017 event in front of a packed media room.

“From all we’ve seen we think it’s going to be a superb test of golf,” he said. “We know we’ve got great support from the club already, and we’d like to thank our friends, not only at the club but also the Panama Golf Association.”

With such fantastic prizes on offer in the Latin America Amateur Championship, the future of this event looks secured.

The winner of this tournament will receive an invitation to the 2016 U.S. Masters. He will also earn an exemption into The Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl and to any USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible (including the US Amateur.) The winner and runner(s) up gain an exemption to Final Qualifying for The Open Championship at Royal Troon and final stage qualifying for the US Open at Oakmont CC.

Latin America Amateur Championship – Round 1 scores Teeth of the Dog course, Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic Par 72, 7,274 yards

T1    Alvaro Ortiz (Mex)            68 T1    Jose Andres Miranda (Ecu)        68 T3    Raul Pereda de la Huerta (Mex)    69 T3    Erick Juan Morales (Pur)        69 T3    Daniel Kenji Ishii (Bra)            69 T6    Luis Gerardo Garza (Mex)        70 T6    Fernando Cruz Valle (Mex)        70 T8    Santiago Gomez (Col)            71 T8    Felipe Strobach (Per)            71 T8    Matias Dominguez (Chi)        71 T8    Jorge Garcia (Ven)            71 T8    Daniel Gurtner (Gua)            71

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?