Alvaro Ortiz takes back lead, in position for elusive Latin America Amateur win

Enrique Berardi/LAAC

Alvaro Ortiz takes back lead, in position for elusive Latin America Amateur win

Amateur

Alvaro Ortiz takes back lead, in position for elusive Latin America Amateur win

By

Alvaro Ortiz is one round away from finally earning a Masters spot.

A 2-under 70 in the third round of the Latin America Amateur Championship pushed Ortiz back into the lead at Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic.

The Mexican player led by three after an opening-round 66 but fell to one back following a 72 in Round 2. The Saturday 70 got him to 8 under and one ahead.

Ortiz has finished runner-up at this event each of the last two years, including a playoff loss in 2017. With his 54-hole spot on top, he has now held or shared an overnight lead six times in five appearances at the Latin America Amateur.

A first-place showing has eluded him, though.

A reminder on why that is especially important here: The winner of this tournament earns a spot into the 2019 Masters. The winner also gets full exemptions into the U.S. Amateur, British Amateur and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible. The winner and the runner(s)-up will also be exempt into the final stages of qualifying for the U.S. Open and British Open.

Ortiz, 23, will immediately turn pro if he doesn’t win this week. A victory here would lead him to hold onto his amateur status at least through the end of his 2019 Masters appearance.

He knows how close he’s been to that spot in the field at Augusta National, and he’s not looking for any more moral victories.

“I think hopefully you’ll see me tomorrow lifting the trophy. That’s the plan,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been here before. I know what it takes.”

There’s no doubt about that. Ortiz had an exemplary career at Arkansas, one that included an All-SEC senior campaign in 2017-18. That season saw him ranked 47th by the Golfweek/Sagarin college rankings. He won twice at the college level.

Luis Fernando Barco and Agustin Errazuriz are tied for second at 7 under while Luis Gagne sits in solo fourth at 6 under.

Brazilian players Herik Machado and Fred Biondi rocketed up the leaderboard to a tie for fifth at 5 under. Machado fired a 65 on a day where he scored back-to-back eagles while Biondi came in with 66.

Juan Cayro Delgado, the 36-hole leader, struggled on Saturday. A third-round 77 dropped him to a tie for 10th at 2 under. He’s accompanied at that spot by Toto Gana, the 2017 champion here.

Paul Chaplet, the 2016 winner, is tied for 46th at 8 over.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home