Santiago De la Fuente (Latin America Amateur Photo)
Santiago De la Fuente became the second Mexican to win the Latin America Amateur Championship after edging out his compatriot Omar Morales at Santa Maria Golf Club in Panama City, Panama.
Starting the day three shots behind Morales, De la Fuente produced an excellent 6-under 64 in blustery conditions to lift the Latin America Amateur trophy and secure his place in the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 and The 152nd Open at Royal Troon.
De la Fuente finished with a 10-under total of 270, two shots clear of Morales, with their nearest rivals Mateo Fuenmayor of Colombia and Justin Hastings from the Cayman Islands finishing in third and fourth at three-under and two-under, respectively.
Morales started the day in pole position, but a two-shot swing occurred on the second when he bogeyed as De la Fuente made birdie. The pair each tallied three birdies and one bogey throughout the remainder of the front nine, with Morales holding on to his one-shot lead at the turn.
De la Fuente moved level with a birdie at the 11th just as Morales’ putter went cold, and he could only play par golf from there. The 22-year-old De la Fuente, who was runner-up in 2022, saved his best for last, putting his approach to tap-in range for a birdie on the 17th and then holing a putt from 10 feet for a closing birdie to secure a remarkable two-shot win. He follows his “idol” Alvaro Ortiz, who won at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019.Recap courtesy of the Latin America Amateur Championship
An emotional De la Fuente said, “It's a very unreal feeling. Even though I've been preparing myself for the winning moment, the winning putt, visualizing myself, chasing the guy that's winning, winning by five. I visualized every scenario possible. Still feels unreal and still feels I don't think there's even words to describe it.”
Morales, who double-bogeyed No. 18 in the third round after finding water, was the only player to shoot four sub-70 rounds and finished with an eight-under total of 272. He will receive an exemption into the final stages of qualifying for the U.S. Open and The Open.
Morales said, “Overall, a good week. I gave it my all today. Not my best day, especially off the tee, which is weird. My driver is the best club, and just simply didn't hit it right. But if I can have off days and not play my best and still have a chance to win, then it means my game is in the right spot.”
Andrew Jarvis from the Cayman Islands, Carlos Ardila from Colombia and Andrey Xavier from Brazil finished tied for fifth at three-over.
The 10th Latin America Amateur Championship will be played from January 16-19, 2025, at Pilar Golf near Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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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