Alvaro Ortiz (Enrique Berardi/LAAC photo)
LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic (Jan. 18, 2019) – Alvaro Ortiz
’s second-round score could easily have gotten away from him on Friday. Ortiz only hit nine greens around Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog course and still shot even-par 72.
“I got a little frustrated starting on the back nine because I couldn’t get anything going,” Ortiz said after the round.
Ortiz remains at 6 under, on the strength of an opening 66, but fell back one position on the leaderboard. Dominican Republic native Juan Cayro Delgado took the lead at 7 under.
, No. 24 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (and the best-ranked player in the field), played beside Ortiz, No. 119, for the first two rounds and managed to catch him at 6 under with a second-round 69. Still, Barco told a similar story at day’s end.
“Especially on the front nine, I didn’t hit the ball nearly as good as yesterday. It was a grind,” he said.
Barco pulled even with Ortiz at the short, par-5 18th. Each player ripped a fairway wood into the green on their second shot, but both came up just short. Barco nestled a deft pitch next to the pin – receiving a raised fist of solidarity from Chile’s Gabriel Morgan Birke, the third man in the group – and tapped in for birdie to break 70. Ortiz made one last par.
Conversely, in a statement that sums up his day, Ortiz’s best up-and-down came at No. 7 for double bogey.
Each player has drawn attention this week for similar reasons. Ortiz has the best record in four previous starts at this event, having never finished outside the top 3 but for a DQ in 2016. Barco, of course, carries the best world ranking.
Both players have also exhausted their college eligibility – Barco at Purdue and Ortiz at Arkansas – but have remained amateur for this event, as has become popular in recent years.
• • •
When you’re ranked No. 1,455 entering a tournament like the LAAC, you can easily stay under the radar. That was Juan Cayro Delgado’s situation at the beginning of the week.
After rounds of 69-68, however, he is out in the open. Delgado, now the solo leader
, had five birdies in his second round, effectively riding his putter to the top of the tournament.
“I wasn’t hitting it great at the start but I was able to hole the putts which were keeping my momentum going,” he said. “By the end of the round, my back nine, I started hitting the ball very well and I was feeling great with the putter. I was able to keep the round flowing and continue doing what I was doing, making as many birdies as I could.”
No player from the Dominican Republic has ever played in the Masters, so if Delgado can put together another strong 36 holes, he would be the first.
• • •
BUT HAVE WE SEEN THE TEETH?
This LAAC venue is most vicious when the wind blows, even though this field hasn’t really seen that happen yet. Players in the afternoon round each of the past two days had to deal with a light sprinkle, but no real wind to speak of.
Depending on which direction it blows, wind could play an especially big role over the back nine, where Nos. 14-17 run along the Atlantic.
Back in 2016, when the LAAC was last played here, it took 3 under to win. Considering that the leader is already to 7 under, this championship could look a lot different.
• • •
: While Ortiz and Barco were arguably the marquee pairing on one side of the tee sheet, the threesome that included Jorge Garcia (No. 180), Luis Gagne (No. 37) and Toto Gana (No. 173) was the must-see pairing on the other side. The three collegians played Friday’s round in the morning wave.
Costa Rica’s Gagne, an LSU senior, had rounds of 72-70 to reach 2 under and a tie for eighth. Venezuela’s Garcia, a senior at Barry University by way of the University of Florida
, reversed those scores for his 2-under total.
Alongside them, Division II player Gana, with three birdies and no bogeys on the back (in fact, only one bogey on the day at No. 9), dove from an opening 73 to a comeback 70 and is T-14 at 1 under.
There are 58 players representing 42 colleges (current, former and future) in the field.
• • •
: The 36-hole cut fell at 5 over, and now only the top 50 players and ties will continue into the weekend.
Among the notable players to miss the cut were Chilean Matias Dominguez, who won this event in 2015. Guatamala’s Daniel Gurtner also will not play the weekend after having finished T-3 last year.
On the flip side, seven of 10 Mexican players made the cut, as did three of eight players from the Dominican Republic. All five players in the field representing Lynn University
, the reigning Division II national champions, not only made the cut, but are all inside the top 30.
• • •
Perhaps the biggest Day-2 turnaround – in the right direction – belonged to Peruvian Julian Perico. He shaved 12 strokes overnight, from an opening 77 to a second-round 65 and is now tied for eighth. Perico had five birdies on the back nine on Friday, including at Nos. 17 and 18. . . . Three of the past four LAAC winners have come from Chile. Entering the weekend, there are five Chilean players within eight shots of the lead, including 2017 LAAC champion Toto Gana. . . For Ortiz, 11 of 17 career rounds in the LAAC have been under par. Last year, in a runner-up effort, Ortiz posted all four rounds under par. . . . Teeth of the Dog is among 22 golf courses in the Dominican Republic, a number that accounts for 20 percent of the golf facilities (119) in the Caribbean.
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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