Ortiz leads by 1 and gets another shot at Latin Amateur

Enrique Berardi  LAAC

Enrique Berardi LAAC

(He had done the same thing on the 12th tee.) Ortiz then hit his drive on No. 13 and started walking down the fairway before Barco and Delgado had gotten to the tee.

"He kind of had to come on to the green and told me to slow down a little bit", Ortiz said.

This was the fifth year of the Latin America Amateur and Ortiz has played in all five with two runner-up finishes and a third-place finish.

A victory would earn the 23-year-old Mexican a spot in the Masters, along with an exemption into the final stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open and British Open. Gagne birdied the 18th to move to 12-under par, but birdies by Ortiz on the 17th and 18th sealed the deal. On the 13th hole from the rough, Ortiz knocked his approach to inside five feet for a birdie. Ortiz easily reached the green in two and tapped in for birdie to finish at 14-under 274.

The 54-hole leader nearly dramatically holed his approach shot at the 295-yard, par-four 17th and tapped in for another birdie to move two clear of the Costa Rican before closing out a fine victory with a birdie four at the closing hole.

Ortiz, in the final group behind him, decided against going for the green on the 295-yard hole. The year before that, Toto Gana won a three-man playoff over Ortiz and Niemann.

"I hit a club I thought wouldn't get in the bunker", Gagne said. Hypothetically, it could have cost me a ticket to the Masters.

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"It feels wonderful. For us Mexicans, we've been waiting for this a long time", Ortiz said.

Ortiz, whose older brother Carlos plays on the PGA Tour, kept his cool, however, and overturned the deficit with a dramatic eagle three at the 12th and a birdie three at the next. "It will be an honor to see the Mexican flag at the Masters".

Arkansas freshman Julian Perico finished in a tie for 25th, shooting a 2-over-par 290 (77-65-74-74).

The younger Ortiz said he had a chance to attend a practice round at the Masters a couple of years ago, but declined. Carlos Ortiz would have to win a tournament before April to join him.

"The first time I wanted to step into Augusta it was because I knew I was going to play there", he said.

Ortiz led by three strokes after day one with an opening-round, 6-under-par 66.

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