The Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC) will be held in Mexico for the first time next year at Mayakoba’s El Camaleón Golf Club on Riviera Maya, January 16-19, 2020. Championship organizers made the announcement today during the 2019 LAAC currently underway at Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic.
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 event moves to top courses throughout Latin America and showcases the sport’s rising talent in the region, including Chilean Joaquin Niemann, who competed in the Masters last year as 2018 LAAC champion and is currently playing on the PGA Tour.
Along with an invitation to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club awarded to the champion, the winner and the runner(s)-up are exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open Championship. The champion is also given full exemptions into The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “The Latin America Amateur Championship has quickly established itself as a key date on the golfing calendar for elite men’s amateurs throughout this region. I’m sure there will be many players who will be aiming to secure a place in the sixth staging of the championship next year and play at Mayakoba, which is a fantastic test of golf. We are looking forward to taking the event to Mexico and to a venue with such an excellent championship pedigree.”
Opened in 2006, Mayakoba’s El Camaleón Golf Club was designed by two-time Open Champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member Greg Norman. In 2007, it became the home of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the first official PGA Tour event to be contested outside the U.S. and Canada, with notable winners including 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and top-100 ranked players Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman and Pat Perez. The course also hosted the World Amateur Team Championships in 2016.
El Camaleón plays along a stretch of crystal-clear freshwater canals surrounded by mangrove and limestone walls. The 18-hole layout features paspalum grass, two holes along the Mexican Caribbean Sea and distinctive hazards, including cenotes (sink holes) and extensive bunkers.
“Mayakoba looks forward to hosting the Latin America Amateur Championship and the region’s premier amateur golfers in 2020,” said Borja Escalada, CEO of Mayakoba. “El Camaleón was built as a true test for competitive play and this is a wonderful opportunity to represent Mexico as the backdrop for Latin America’s best and brightest young players. We are grateful to the Masters Tournament, The R&A and USGA for their selection and are excited to deliver hospitality of the highest caliber offered at our resort.”
In 2015, Matias Dominguez, of Chile, won the inaugural championship by one stroke at Pilar Golf in Argentina. Paul Chaplet of Costa Rica won the second edition in 2016 at Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog course in the Dominican Republic. Toto Gana triumphed in 2017 at Club de Golf de Panama, marking the first time the LAAC was decided in a play-off and the championship’s second winner from Chile. The next year Joaquin Niemann, then the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur, continued Chile’s dominance at the LAAC when he won in his hometown of Santiago at Prince of Wales Country Club.
This week’s LAAC at Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog features 108 players from 28 countries and territories throughout Latin America. Television coverage includes two hours of live broadcast across four continents on all four days of play. Spectators are admitted free at Teeth of the Dog.