Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira (R) and Segundo Oliva Pinto (Arkansas Athletics)
With five players from the University of Arkansas ranked among the top 24 players in South America, the odds were pretty good that one of them was going to walk away with the South America Amateur championship, which wrapped up on Saturday in Quito, Ecuador.
Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira
shot a final round 69 for an 11-under score of 277 to clip his Razorback teammate Segundo Oliva Pinto
by two shots to win the South America Amateur at Quito Tennis and Golf Club.
The win was bittersweet for Fernandez de Oliveira, who finished runner-up in the event in 2020 to Benjamín Saiz-Wenz of Chile (the tournament was not held last year due to COVID) only to find the winner's circle after Pinto's unfortunate demise late in the round cost him the tournament.
After carding rounds of 68-67-73, the Razorback junior from Buenos Aires, Argentina was 8-under at the 54-hole mark and just one back of his fellow countryman Pinto, who enjoyed a one-shot lead at 9-under following rounds of 72-66-69.
Fernandez de Oliveira made three birdies on his outward nine to take a one-stroke lead over Pinto at the turn, but it was short-lived. A double-bogey on the par-4 10th followed by Pinto's eagle on the par-5 11th left Fernandez de Oliveira two back with seven holes remaining.
Fernandez de Oliveira's birdie on the par-4 15th cut the lead down to one and then he moved into a tie for the lead after Pinto made a bogey on the par-3 16th.
All tied with two holes remaining, Fernandez de Oliveira seized control of the tournament with a birdie on the 17th while Pinto made a double bogey, completing a four-shot swing in de Oliveira's favor over the span of two holes.
The two close friends and teammates were probably equally stunned as they stood on the 18th tee box with Fernandez de Oliveira holding a three-shot lead. Pinto's birdie on the closing hole wasn't enough to ease the pain of his collapse that cost him the title.
Three other Arkansas players -- Julian Perico
(t-7th), Juan Camilo Vesga
(t-7th) and Manuel Lozada
(t-20th) -- also earned top-20 finishes.
All five Arkansas players will be in the field at the Latin American Amateur Championship which gets underway on Wednesday at Casa del Campo, Dominican Republic.
* * * * *
Purdue's Ballesteros takes women's division
Daniela Ballesteros Daniela Ballesteros (center)
of Lima, Peru who plays collegiately at Purdue, won the women's title with a 1-under score of 287, four-strokes clear of Maria Jose Martinez
, a native of Alvarado, Mexico who plays at the University of Houston.
Ballesteros' 4-under 68 in the third round, the only under-par round of the day, provided her with a six-shot cushion heading into the final round. She never relinquished the lead, making three birdies on her way to a final round 74 to become the second woman from Peru to win the prestigious tournament.
ABOUT THE South American Amateur
A 72-hole stroke play championship, the South
American Championship was started in 2006 and
is organized annually by the Executive Secretary
and the governing body of the country in which
the tournament is conducted. The schedule
provides that the seat should be rotated in all
South American countries.
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