Julian Périco during the first round of the Latin American Amateur
PANAMA CITY, Panama (January 12, 2017) -- On the strength of an opening nine 6-under 29 Peru's Julian Périco is the first round Latin America Amateur leader. Beginning on the 10th hole at Club de Golf de Panama, Périco jump started his round with a birdie on his first hole and then following a par on No. 11 he rolled in four consecutive birdies from Nos. 12-15 to reach 5-under. Following a pair of pars Périco capped his torrid first nine with an 18th hole birdie.
“Actually, I was hitting the ball pretty bad on the range, and I was like, I don’t know what will happen today,” said Perico who broke the Latin America Amateur 18-hole scoring record. “On hole No. 10 [his opening hole], I pushed my tee shot and I had to hit this stinger from underneath the trees. I hit it to 7 feet for birdie and I made it. After that, I don’t know what happened. I was hitting the ball perfect, the putts were falling in perfect; it was amazing.”
On the second nine the 17-year-old and youngest player in the field wasn't able to sustain his pace and he actually did well to keep his score at 6-under. Following a par on No. 1, Périco double-bogeyed the 2nd to fall to 4-under before quickly rebounding with his final two birdies of the day on the next two holes. When the dust had settled Périco, a 2018 South Florida commit, signed for a 6-under 64 and a one-stroke lead over Guatemala's Alejandro Villavicencio.
For Villavicencio it was an eight birdie, three bogey day that vaulted him into second place at 5-under. Starting on the front, Villavicencio was even-par through seven holes but back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 moved him to 2-under and red figures for good. The strong play continued as Villavicencio headed for home with birdies on Nos. 12-14 and 17. A closing hole bogey was Villavicencio's only back nine blemish.
“I felt nervous, especially being in the first group,” said Villavicencio, who abandoned golf in his late teens to compete in jet-skiing, then returned to the game as a professional until 2010. “But I think anyone who plays competitive golf is going to feel nervous. It’s just a matter of trying to control it and trying to handle it and embracing it.”
A trio of players are currently in a tie for third place at 3-under --Miguel Ordoñez (Panama), José Luis Montaño (Bolivia) and Nicolas Echavarria (Colombia).
Defending champion Paul Chaplet of Costa Rica is tied for 18th at 1-over while the highest ranked player in the field, No. 5 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings Joaquín Niemann of Chile is 2-over and in a tie of 30th.
Editors Note: The LAAC contributed to this story
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
The LAAC champion annually receives an invitation
to compete in the Masters at Augusta National Golf
Club, and the the British Open Championship. In
addition, the winner and the runner(s)-up
are exempt into the final stages of qualifying for the
US Open Championship. The
is also awarded full exemptions into The Amateur
Championship, the US Amateur Championship and
any other USGA amateur championship for which he
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