48-year-old Alvaro E. Ortiz takes Latin America Amateur lead
Alvaro E. Ortiz watches a shot on Friday at Club de Golf de Panama <br>(LAAC Photo)
Alvaro E. Ortiz watches a shot on Friday at Club de Golf de Panama
(LAAC Photo)

PANAMA CITY, Panama (January 13, 2017) -- At the midway point of the Latin America Amateur an unexpected name is leading the way. On a day where most players struggled, 48-year-old Chile native Alvaro E. Ortiz, the 1,632nd ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, surged to 3-under to take the second round lead at Club de Golf de Panama.

After struggling to a 1-over 71 on Thursday, Ortiz was seven shots behind when the second round began. However, a perfect storm of events brought Ortiz to the top of the leaderboard. Of course his fine play, a 4-under 66 was the major reason, but he also received some help as the lead group slid backwards.

Ortiz, the oldest player to make the cut for the second straight year, birdied Nos. 3 and 4 to reach red figures and then birdied the 8th before dropping his only shot on the front nine with a bogey on the 9th. After turning in 3-under 33 and 1-under overall, Ortiz continued his sharp play on the back nine putting together a flawless side that included consecutive birdies on the 12th and 13th holes.

“I played very smart,” said Ortiz, who played college golf at Texas Wesleyan University and works in the real-estate industry. “I’m old enough to know where my weaknesses are and where my strengths are. I only made one mistake, a three-putt on No. 9, so I’m very happy.”

Despite a 3-over 73 in the second round Alejandro Villavicencio remained in second place, only this time he has to share the position with Brazil's Herik Machado. The duo is 2-under and one shot off the pace.

Machado was 6-under through 15-holes and had the round of the day going before finishing with three straight bogeys and settling for a 3-under 69.

Five players will begin the third round at 1-under in a tie for fourth place. Among the group is first round leader Julian Périco of Peru. The 17-year-old and youngest player in the field was fortunate to remain in the mix as he overcame a day that included three double-bogeys and two bogeys thanks to three birdies.

“It was fun, because all the cameras were there, but I was a bit nervous during the round,” said Perico, who attends Bishops Gate Golf Academy in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. “I was 7 under for the tournament [after birdieing the fifth hole], and I really felt that I was cruising down the course. Suddenly I made a double on 7, and everything just went the other way. It was really an up‑and‑down round, emotionally more than golf‑wise.”

Defending champion Paul Chaplet of Costa Rica is 6-over in a tie for 28th while 2015 champion Matías Domínguez of Chile is 8-over and tied for 41st.

The highest ranked player in the field is No. 5 Joaquín Niemann of Chile. He and Florida State senior Cristobal del Solar are part of a 15th place tie at 2-over.

Upon the completion of play on Friday a 36-hole cut was made with the top 49 players and ties advancing to the weekend.

-Editors Note: The LAAC contributed to this story

Results For Latin America Amateur Championship
1ChileTomas GanaChile100068-71-69-71=279
T2MexicoAlvaro OrtizMexico70071-70-67-71=279
T2ChileJoaquin NiemannChile70072-70-67-70=279
T4PeruJulian PericoPeru50064-75-72-69=280
T4Costa RicaAlvaro E. OrtizCosta Rica50071-66-73-70=280

View full results for Latin America Amateur Championship

ABOUT THE Latin America Amateur

Founded by the Masters Tournament, The R&A and the USGA, the LAAC was established to further develop amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The LAAC is a 72-hole stroke play event open to a field of 108 amateur players in Latin America, chosen by their respective national federations according to their World Amateur Golf Ranking. Past winners of the championship, as well as last year’s top-five finishers, are automatically entered into this year’s championship.

The LAAC champion annually receives an invitation to compete in the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. In addition, the winner and the runner(s)-up are exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the US Open Championship. The champion is also awarded full exemptions into The Amateur Championship, the US Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible.

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