Omar Morales (Latin America Amateur Photo)
Warm and windy conditions made it a tough day for scoring, but Omar Morales, who hit the opening tee shot at last year’s U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club, rose to the top of the leaderboard in the afternoon.
Morales traded three bogeys with two birdies on the front nine, but the highest-ranked player in the field accelerated his round after the turn with birdies at No. 11 and 12. The 20-year-old produced a 1-under 69 to finish two-under at the halfway point of the Championship.
“I think my shots off the tee were really good, and the lines I took on approach shots and how committed I was on each and every shot was really, really good, and I'm proud of that,” said Morales, whose brother is on the bag for him this week. “You know, my putting, I missed a couple of putts on the front and back, so I just need to clean that up.”
Related: OMAR MORALES IS POISED FOR SUCCESS AT THE LATIN AMERICAN AMATEUR
One shot back is Mateo Fuenmayor of Colombia, who started fast with two birdies in his first six holes. The 21-year-old senior at Oregon State University did not let a double-bogey six at No. 7 deter him and recovered shortly after with birdies at No. 11 and 15 to card a 2-under round of 68.
“Yeah, it wasn't easy,” said Fuenmayor. “From the first hole, there was wind, and until the very end, there was a lot of wind. But I'm hitting the ball very, very well, and in these conditions, it's very important to hit the ball well, to be very solid, and to make sure the ball starts online, and I've done a very good job of that. I've missed a couple of putts, but, at the same time, I've made the putts I've had to make and two‑putted a lot of the long putts, so I'm very happy with the performance.”
Brazil’s Andrey Xavier raced to three-under for the day after seven holes, but his momentum was checked with a bogey at the eighth. Making his fifth appearance in the Latin America Amateur, Xavier bounced back with a birdie at No. 10 but slipped back with dropped shots at Nos. 16 and 17 for a 1-under 69 to sit at level par for the Championship.
Overnight leader Santiago De la Fuente is even with Xavier at the halfway stage. The 22-year-old Mexican began his day at No. 10 and birdies at No. 12, and 14 took him to 3-under for the Championship, but he stumbled with a bogey at No. 18 before dropping two further shots on Nos. 6 and 7.
Argentina’s Vicente Marzilio is 1-over. The runner-up in 2022 and third-place finisher last year continued his excellent form in the Latin America Amateur with an even-par 70 today.
Co-first-round leader José Arzú of Guatemala is two-over after posting a three-over 73 today.
The cut fell at 14-over 154 with 55 players advancing to the weekend. Players from 16 countries will be represented in the field for the final two rounds.
Recap courtesy of the 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
The LAAC champion annually receives an invitation
to compete in the Masters at Augusta National Golf
Club, the U.S. Open and the British Open. The
champion is also awarded full exemptions into The
Championship, the US Amateur Championship and
any other USGA amateur championship for which he
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