Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira surged to the top of the leaderboard with a sensational record-tying 63 (-9) in the third round of the Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC) at Grand Reserve Golf Club, Puerto Rico.
Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira surged to the top of the leaderboard with a sensational record-tying 63 in the third round of the Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC) at Grand Reserve Golf Club, Puerto Rico.
The 22-year-old is bidding to go one place better than last year’s runner-up finish at Casa de Campo and become the second Argentinian after Abel Gallegos (2020) to win the LAAC.
He leads by four shots with an 18-under-par total of 198, breaking the previous 54-hole record of 206 set by Matias Dominguez in 2015. Fernandez de Oliveira’s bogey-free 63 equals the low round record set by Joaquin Niemann in 2018, while his total of nine birdies also ties the 18-hole record held by Joaquin Bonjour (2015) and Alejandro Tosti (2016).
“I'm feeling very good. It's been a great three rounds,” said Fernandez de Oliveira. “I think I put myself in the spot that I like to be going into the final round. I made some good stuff out there during these first three days, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”
Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira - Round 3
Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira of Argentina - Round 3, No. 18
Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira of Argentina and his caddie on the No.6 tee during Round Three of the 2023 LAAC
Fernandez de Oliveira opened his round with three birdies in the first four holes before a run of steady pars before the turn. He then went on a run of five birdies in a row from Nos. 11-15 before sinking another birdie putt on No.18 to put clear daylight between him and the chasing pack.
“I think my mental game was very good,” added Fernandez de Oliveira, who won the South America Amateur Championship last year. “I got off to a good start, and that got me going. I had a stretch in the middle where putts were not dropping and I was not taking advantage of the par 5s, but I kept myself patient and made a good par on 10. When I hit a good third shot on 12, it gave me momentum and I took advantage of those birdies that I made, so I had a little advantage going into tomorrow.”
Luis Carrera, who held the overnight lead and was playing alongside Fernandez de Oliveira and Julian Perico, posted a 68 to move to 14 under par for the Championship and hold second place. The highlight of the Mexican’s round was a birdie spree on Nos. 12-14 in response to a disappointing bogey at the par-5 11th where he encountered difficulties after a wayward tee shot.
“I believe it was a great battle. The three of us played some great golf,” said Carrera. “I was just enjoying it, trying to hit some good shots, some quality shots that are required and that was mainly it. Just focus on my game and not be looking at the others.
“My preparation for tomorrow is going to be the same. I’m probably going to hit some balls right now. I’ll hit some balls and get ready; I don’t think the strategy is going to change. If the putts drop, I’m probably going to shoot better. I think my putting and not making as many mistakes was important today. I missed a couple of drivers, so if I can be a little bit better with the driver, and also drop some putts, they’re needed on this course.”
Round Three Notable Players
Luis Carrera of Mexico - Round 3, No. 10
Julian Perico of Peru - Round 3, No. 6
Argentina’s Vicente Marzilio, who also finished runner-up in the 2022 Championship, and Perico are tied for third place one shot further back at 13 under par.
Marzilio fired in seven birdies during a round of 66 to stay in contention, while an eagle 3 at the 14th hole was the standout moment in Perico’s performance in which he also made five birdies on the way to posting a 67.
“I’m very happy about it. I played great today,” said Marzilio. “My wedges were amazing and that’s a very important part of my game for this tournament. That’s how I kept it going today. I’m just very happy that I’m giving myself a chance on the back nine tomorrow.
“I’m just going to do the same tomorrow. Enjoy it a lot. Just focus and really give it my best out there. I think that’s what I did today and it paid off. I’m hoping to do the same tomorrow, stay relaxed and let it fall on the golf course. Just same routine, same strategy and try to give myself a chance on the back nine.”
“I'm pretty happy,” said Perico. “I'm trying to stay as patient as I can on the greens. It's been a pretty disappointing week on the greens for me. I'm trying to not let it affect me. It's very frustrating. I've had plenty of looks and I mean, I'm just hitting, like some of them bump away and whatever, but I've hit a couple really bad putts. But I'm trying to just keep it on the down low and just hope for the best. I mean, I was able to make a nice putt on 17 and 18. For me, if it's two, three feet and I make it, it's a nice putt at this point.
“I'm definitely struggling a lot and I'm just trying to stay so patient. I mean, it's hard for it not to get to you. Although you try to play your own game, you see the people you're playing with, like making them from left and right and you're there kind of like missing the short ones and it's kind of embarrassing. I'm just trying to have a blast. We had such a good time today.”
Defending champion Aaron Jarvis carded another steady even-par round of 72 and sits 2 under par.
The champion of the LAAC will receive an invitation to the Masters Tournament in addition to exemptions into the U.S. Open and The Open in 2023.