FAYETTEVILLE – A record five Razorbacks – Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira, Manuel Lozada, Segundo Oliva Pinto, Julian Perico and Juan Camilo Vesga – will be competing in the seventh annual Latin America Amateur Championship. In addition to winning one of the world’s top amateur events, the champion will earn a berth to The Masters and 150th Open Championship, played at the Old Course at St. Andrews (Scotland), later this year.
This year’s LAAC will be played Jan. 20-23 at Teeth of the Dog Course in Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic. Live broadcast of he event will be streamed on www.LAACgolf.com and ESPN will cover the event from 11 am to 1 pm (CT) on Thursday and Friday will Saturday and Sunday’s rounds will be from 10 am to Noon (CT).
Tee times are:
• Fernandez de Oliveira – 5:36 am (CT) off hole #1.
• Lozada – 6:20 am (CT) off hole #1
• Vesga – 6:42 am (CT) off hole #1
• Perico – 10:10 am (CT) off hole #10
• Oliva Pinto – 10:20 am (CT) off hole #10
Fernandez de Oliveira headlines the list as he moved up to #38 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) and is the highest-ranked player in Latin America. He is coming off a win at the South Ame0rica Amateur, had three-top three finishes for Arkansas last fall – including his first collegiate win at the Jackson T. Stephens Cup, and is a candidate for the Fred T. Haskins Award. The Argentinian is playing in his third LAAC with a pair of top 20 finishes to his credit.
However, Perico has had the most success and experience at the LAAC. Perico has played in the previous four Latin America Amateurs and has placed among the top 25 each time, including a fourth-place finish in 2017 and a sixth-place finish in 2020. Perico fired a third-round 65 at the South America Amateur en route to a seventh-place finish. Perico slipped to 108 in the WAGR but is still the fourth-highest rated player in the field.
Oliva Pinto battled Fernandez de Oliveira for the title at the South America Amateur. Oliva Pinto held the 36-hole lead before finishing runner-up. With his performance, Oliva Pinto climbed 14 spots in the WAGR to 102 and is the third-highest rated player in the field.
Vesga is making his second appearance in the LAAC. He missed the cut and tied for 66th in 2020 prior to enrolling at Arkansas as a freshman the following fall. Vesga tied Perico for seventh at last week’s South America Amateur and climbed nine spots in the WAGR.
Lozada, who missed the fall season after a motorcycle accident last August, is making his debut at the LAAC. The sophomore played in a couple of events in his native Argentina in November and December then posted a 20th-place finish at the South America Amateur last week.
Former Razorback Alvaro Ortiz won the 2019 LAAC while adding runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2018 and a third-place finish in the inaugural LAAC (2015). He went on to make the cut at The Masters as well as finish as the second-best amateur behind Viktor Hovland.
Current Razorbacks at the LAAC:
• Perico – T-4 (2017) – T-13 (2018) – T-25 (2019) – T-6 (2020)
• Fernandez de Oliveira – T-19 (2018) – T-38 (2019) – T-19 (2020).
• Oliva Pinto – 8th (2020)
• Vesga – T-66 (2020)
• Lozada – 1st appearance