Latin America Am: Omar Morales holds a three-shot lead heading into the final round
Omar Morales (Latin America Amateur Photo)
Omar Morales (Latin America Amateur Photo)

Mexico’s Omar Morales extended his lead to three strokes with a 5-under 65 in the third round of the Latin America Amateur Championship at Santa Maria Golf Club in Panama City, Panama.

At seven-under for the Championship, the 20-year-old will enter the final round looking to become the second Mexican player to win the event in its nine-year history. He would join 2019 champion Alvaro Ortiz.

“I was stuck in my own little game and world, and I wasn't really paying attention to the leaderboard,” said Morales. “I just stuck to my game plan and hit the shots that I know I could hit and play conservative when I needed to. I feel like I did that pretty good, so I think that was the thing that contributed to a good round.”

Morales quickly took control on Saturday with three birdies in his first four holes. He tacked on two more at the eighth and 10th before almost driving the par-4 11th hole and sinking an eagle putt from the fringe. On the 18th tee, he was on track to match the lowest round in Championship history (63/Joaquin Niemann in 2018 and Mateo Fernández De Oliveira in 2023), but he found the water on the left with his tee shot, made a double bogey, and fell back to seven under for the Championship.

The UCLA men’s golf team member, whose brother is serving as his caddie this week, hit the opening tee shot of the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club. He has won twice in college over the past two years.


Joining Morales under par for the Championship is Mexico’s Santiago De la Fuente, who is 4-under, and Colombia’s Mateo Fuenmayor, who is 3-under. De la Fuente has finished top 10 in each of the last two Latin America Amateurs, while Fuenmayor led after the first round last year before faltering over the next three days to finish T-48.

Chile’s Vicente Encina carded the second hole-in-one in the history of the Championship on Saturday at No. 17, following in the footsteps of Nicolas Echavarria at the inaugural Latin America Amateur in 2015. Echavarria has gone on to professional success, including a victory on the PGA Tour last March.

Argentina’s Joaco Ludueña is T6 and went 6-under in five holes with scores of eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie at holes No. 10-14 on Saturday.

Recap courtesy of the Latin America Amateur Championship

Results: Latin America Amateur
1MexicoSantiago De La FuenteMexico120069-71-66-64=270
2MexicoOmar MoralesMexico90069-69-65-69=272
3ORMateo FuenmayorBeaverton, OR70071-68-68-70=277
4Cayman IslandsJustin HastingsCayman Islands70072-71-68-67=278
T5Cayman IslandsAndrew JarvisCayman Islands70072-72-72-67=283

View full results for Latin America Amateur

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, the U.S. Open and the British Open. 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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