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Thursday, January 23, 2014

About the New Latin American Amateur Championship

By now you've all heard about the new Latin American Amateur Championship. In case you missed the official announcement on Wednesday, here are the basics:

Billy Payne at tournament announcement

The Masters committee, the R&A, and the USGA are combining forces to launch a new amateur tournament to spur the growth of golf in South America. Billy Payne, Peter Dawson, and Mike Davis (from the three groups, respectively) all traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to make the announcement.

The new Latin American Amateur Championship will be played just outside Buenos Aires on January 15-18, 2015, and will be open to amateurs from 27 South American countries (or territories, as the case may be).

This event is being patterned after the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, in which the winner gets an invite to the Masters. That little perk has already boosted the careers of now-pro Hideki Matsuyama (who is #24 on the OWGR this week) and youngster Guan Tianlang. However, since the R&A and USGA have joined forces with the Masters for this event, the rewards are much greater.

The winner gets:
  • an invitation to the Masters
  • a full exemption into the British Amateur Championship
  • a full exemption into the US Amateur
  • a full exemption into any other USGA event for which he is eligible
  • a spot in final qualifying for the Open Championship
  • a spot in final qualifying for the U.S. Open.
In addition, all of the runners-up (if there's more than one) also get full exemptions into final qualifying for the Open Championship and US Open.

I saw the announcement and, since both Angel Cabrera and Eduardo Romero were featured guests there, I suspect they will figure into the promotions in a big way.

It will be interesting to see if this event meets with the success of the Asia-Pacific, but the timing -- they'll be able to play this new event twice before the Rio Olympics, which have already encouraged increased golf development in South American countries -- along with the number of "prizes" should certainly give it a running start.

The photo came from the ESPN article about the announcement.

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