PANAMA CITY, Panama – Razorback junior Alvaro Ortiz was on the brink of victory at the Latin America Amateur Championship on Sunday, but settled for a three-way playoff runner-up finish at Club de Golf de Panama.
After rolling in a lengthy birdie putt on the 17th hole and saving par on 18, Ortiz found himself in a three-way playoff to capture the Latin America Amateur Championship and earn exemption to the 2017 Masters Tournament.
On the first playoff hole, Ortiz had chance to capture the title, but his 15-foot putt caught the lip and slid by. Chile native, Toto Gana recorded a birdie on the second extra hole to earn the victory. Ortiz officially fired a 1-over 71 in the final round to finish 71-70-67-71 – 279 (-1).
“I’m very proud of the way Alvaro played this week and represented our program with great sportsmanship,” said Arkansas head coach Brad McMakin. “He was in contention during our entire fall season and I look forward to him having a great spring campaign for us.”
Ortiz, playing for his home country of Mexico, would have been the first Mexican since 1979 to play in the Masters as he recorded 11 birdies and one eagle in the championship. As the runner-up, he has exempt status into the final stages of qualifying for the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills and the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Recent Arkansas graduate Nicolas Echavarria had a strong showing of his own for his home country of Colombia, finishing T-8th overall after his final round 4-over 74. He opened the tournament with a 3-under 67 and finished 67-72-71-74 – 284 (+4).
Razorback freshman Luis Garza of Mexico continued to impress with a T-38th place finish with rounds of 75-69-73-79 – 296 (+16) that featured birdies in three of his first four holes during the final round.
Ortiz and Garza will now turn their attention to the spring season that gets underway Feb. 6-7, when the Razorbacks travel to TPC Sawgrass for the Sea Best Invitational.
Final Hog Leaderboard:
T1- Ortiz (-1) – Lost in playoff
T8. Echavarria (+4)
T38. Garza (+16)
Courtesy: University of Arkansas Sports Information Department