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With less than 15 days until the start of the Latin America Amateur Championship, the dance of names about who can be the player who lifts the coveted trophy and fulfills the dream of playing two Majors is underway.
Will it be the first time a player has defended the title? Could it be that a player who is not from Chile, Argentina, Mexico or Costa Rica is left with the highest achievement for an amateur from the region? Will the player with the highest-ranking be able to repeat what Joaquín Niemann did in his country in 2018? Will the Dominican Republic have a mixed player among the candidates, as was Juan Cayro Delgado in 2019?
There are 108 dreams that will begin to take shape when each one of them tees the first hole of Teeth of the Dog, in Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic.
These are some of the names to consider for the 2022 edition of the Latin America Amateur Championship:
- Mateo Fernández de Oliveira (Argentina): He is the one that arrives with the best ranking in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR): 43º. The player from the University of Arkansas is going through a great moment, after winning an individual title last year, plus two other Top-3s and being part of the Argentine team that won the Copa Los Andes South American Team Championship. Lost in the 32nd round of the U.S. Amateur 2021.
- Abel Gallegos (Argentina): is the defender of the title. His participation in the 2020 Masters and The Open Championship 2021 have added a great experience to his outstanding game. Based in the United States, where he has been able to participate in several amateur events, his victory at the Azalea Invitational in 2021 stands out.
- Andrey Borges Xavier (Brasil): He is the second-best South American player in the WAGR: 80th. He arrives at LAAC with four victories in 2021 in events held in his country. He was 5th in 2019 and 13th in 2020 at LAAC.
- Julián Perico (Perú): Player with a great career in LAAC where he surprised everyone with a great debut in 2017 when he finished T4, then he was 13th, 25th, and 6th in the following editions. His experience at the University of Arkansas where he spent the last year is valuable when defining.
- Benjamín Saiz-Wenz (Chile): He finished T6º in the last LAAC. In 2021 he finished 2nd in the International Amateur of Mexico, one of the most important events in the region. Top-10 at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Chile Open last December.
- Omar Tejeira (Panamá): At the age of 31, his previous experience as a professional can be decisive when it comes to starring in his first LAAC. Since returning to amateur status, he has had seven victories in his country. He ranks 62nd in the WAGR.
- Luis Carrera (México): Studies at Sam Houston University. He was the best Latino in the NCAA Division I Championship. In addition, he has six other Top-10s at the college level.
- Alejandro Ramos (Perú): South American Youth Champion 2021. He is the best Latin player under 18 years of age. He has three victories in the golf of his country.
- Gabriel Palacios (Guatemala): Best U-16 Latino player, with outstanding performances in the United States in the Junior category.
Among the local players that must be considered as a result of the experience and growth of their golf that has been given, to a great extent, by the impulse that the previous editions of LAAC that were played in Casa de Campo gave it, we can highlight the following players:
- Rhadamés Peña: He is the best Dominican in the WAGR (400th). He was second in the 2021 Caribbean Amateur Championship and has played the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica events that were played in his country.
- Juan Cayro Delgado: He was the protagonist of the last LAAC played in Casa de Campo after two rounds, where he was the only leader. He finally tied for 15th place.
- Julio Alfredo Ríos Brache: Champion of the Caribbean Junior Golf Championship. He was recruited by the University of Houston.
The career of one of them could definitely change if they manage to confirm their “favorites” badge. It is that the benefits that the LAAC grants in each edition are unmatched: the champion receives an invitation to compete in the Masters Tournament and The Open Championship. In addition, the winner and the player or players who finish in second place directly enter the final qualifying stages, with the possibility of reaching The Open and the U.S. Open. On the other hand, the champion receives full exemptions to play The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur Championship and all other USGA amateur championships for which he is eligible.
From January 20 to 23, 2022, the best amateur players in the region will then return to a venue praised by each of the parties that make up the organization of a unique championship such as the Latin America Amateur Championship. The promises of the future come to Casa de Campo and the golf of the region smiles again.