Mexico’s Ortiz in Pole Position With 18 Holes to Play at LAAC Four Tied for Second, Including the Defending Champion Gana and World No. 1 Niemann

Alvaro Ortiz, of Mexico, takes a one-shot lead into the final round of the 2018 Latin America Amateur Championship at Prince of Wales Country Club tomorrow.

With a place in the Masters Tournament at stake, Ortiz moved to four-under-par for the championship and leads by one over a group of four contenders, including defending champion Toto Gana and his fellow Chilean and world No. 1-ranked amateur Joaquin Niemann. Also at three-under-par are Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola, the 36-hole leader, and Daniel Gurtner, of Guatemala.

In a tightly packed leader board, five players sit a stroke further back – Manuel Torres (Venezuela), Gabriel Morgan Birke (Chile), Aaron Terrazas and Mario Carmona (both from Mexico) and Camilo Aguado (Colombia).

Ortiz enjoyed a great start to his third round with birdies at the third and fourth holes but slipped back with bogeys at the sixth and seventh. The 22-year-old, who lost out to Gana in the playoff at last year’s LAAC, bounced back with birdies at the 11th and 14th holes. Another shot slipped away at the 17th before an impressive par save on 18, which resulted in a one-under-par round of 70.

Rivarola struggled to reproduce the same form as yesterday. A costly double-bogey six at the 17th left him two-over for the day. In a tougher day for scoring, Gana also had an untidy finish with two dropped shots in his last three holes on his way to a one-over-par 72. Niemann, who also featured in the playoff in Panama last year, matched his compatriot’s round after a bogey at the par-four 18th.

Gurtner, a red-shirt junior at Texas Christian University, started his round at one-under-par, four strokes off the leader, and he made a move with three birdies on the front nine. He sandwiched a birdie at the 16th with dropped shots at the 15th and the 18th to finish with a 69 on three under par.

Exemptions for Champion and Runner(s)-up:

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to compete in the 2018 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, as well as full exemptions into The Amateur Championship, U.S. Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible. In addition, the winner and the runner(s)-up will be exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The 147th Open at Carnoustie and the 2018 U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills.


Quotable:

Alvaro Ortiz, 22, Mexico: “Literally, I’ve been thinking about [winning] all year long.  Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience.  I don’t want the emotions to get the better of me. What I’ve learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”


Jaime Lopez Rivarola, 22, Argentina:
“All I’m really trying to do is beat the golf course.  At the end of the day, whoever beats the golf course by the most shots, wins.  I’m not looking to go win this right out of the gate, but I’m just trying to beat the golf course hole‑by‑hole, and I know if I do that in a good manner, I can really have a chance.  I’m not going to go at every pin out there tomorrow because that’s not the way to play this golf course. There’s all sorts of ways to play it, and what I’m going to do is just keep on with my strategy that I’ve been using these three days and try to be a little bit more precise.”


Toto Gana, 20, Chile:
“It was a very difficult day, and I didn’t start the day the way I wanted because I hit a very bad tee shot on the first hole. That kind of diminished the confidence that I had for the day. But from the ninth hole, I was able to hit the ball really well, and the rest of the round. There were a lot of people following us, which surprising because it’s a working day.  Tomorrow I hope we have more people coming and supporting us.  It’s good for me and I believe Joaquin must feel the same way.”


Joaquin Niemann, 19, Chile: “
I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven‑under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead.  So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round. The golf course had some tricky hole positions, but in the end, I believe that I could have shot a low score.  The truth is that I missed a lot of fairways, I was out of position, and by the time that I was able to hit the greens, I didn’t make the putts.”


Daniel Gurter, 22, Guatamala:
“This is some new territory for me.  I’ve never been in this position in any tournament of this caliber.  I’ve had some good tournaments in the States, but never been more excited. I feel like everyone’s going to be nervous [tomorrow].  I’m not the only one who is going to feel those nerves.  I’ve got no expectations. I’ve just got to play my own game and have a lot of fun.”

 

Notable:

  • Third-round leader Alvaro Ortiz, of Mexico, shared the 54-hole lead in 2017 with eventual champion Toto Gana, of Chile. In fact, the two players will be part of the final grouping Tuesday for the second consecutive year. In 2017 at Club de Golf de Panama, they were grouped with World Amateur Golf Ranking No. 1 Joaquin Niemann, also of Chile. Tomorrow, Gana and Ortiz will start at 9:08 a.m. with Daniel Gurtner, of Guatemala.
  • Ortiz, a senior at the University of Arkansas, is the only player to record three sub-par rounds (69-70-70). He will look to join 2015 champion Matias Dominguez, of Chile, and 2015 runner-up Ale Tosti, of Argentina, as the third player with four sub-par rounds in one championship.
  • The 54-hole lead in all four LAACs has been one stroke.
  • History of 36-hole leaders in next round at LAAC:
    • 2015 – Andre Tourinho, Brazil – 75 in Rd. 3, 68 in Rd 4 – T3
    • 2016 – Nicolas Echavarria, Colombia – 77 in Rd 3, 77 in Rd 4 – 12th
    • 2017 – Alvaro E. Ortiz, Costa Rica; 73 in Rd 3, 70 in Rd 4 – T4
    • 2018 – Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Argentina; 73 in Rd 3, ?? in Rd 4
  • With his two-under-par 69, Daniel Gurtner is tied for second, Guatemala’s best placement on the 54-hole leader board in the LAAC and best since Alejandro Villavicencio was T8 through 54 holes in 2017.
  • The best score of the third round (four-under 67) was posted by Julian Perico, of Peru (six birdies), who held the first-round lead in 2017. This score ties for second-best third-round LAAC score (lowest is 66 by Gaston Bertinotti, of Argentina, in 2015).
  • Matias Dominguez, of Chile, the 2015 champion, shot 75 to hold a share of 40th position. His 54-hole score of 206 in 2015 remains an LAAC record.
  • Paul Chaplet, of Costa Rica, the 2016 champion, posted a 72 Monday and is tied for 37th. He holds the LAAC mark for largest comeback after 36 holes at seven strokes.
  • Chile and Mexico each have three players in the top 10 (two under or better) after 54 holes.
  • In both instances when a player from Chile has held or shared the 54-hole lead, he has gone on to victory (Matias Dominguez in 2015 and Toto Gana in 2017)
  • 13 players broke par in the third round and 12 are under par through 54 holes.
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