Gana earns Masters invite with LAAC playoff win

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PANAMA CITY, Panama – Chile's Toto Gana brushed in a 2-foot putt for birdie on the second playoff hole to win the 2017 Latin America Amateur Championship, defeating fellow Chilean Joaquin Niemann and Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz.

With the win, Gana earns an invitation to the Masters and exemptions into the U.S. Amateur, the Amateur Championship, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and Final Qualifying for the Open Championship.

“Two days ago, I was nobody,” Gana said, holding his trophy. “Now I'm going to play the Masters.”

Up two with two to play, Gana found himself in a playoff after Niemann and Ortiz birdied the par-3 17th and after he failed to save par from over the green at 18, resulting in a final-round 1-over 71.

All three players made par at the extra first hole, the 18th, with Gana hitting his drive into the left trees, pitching out short of the green, and getting up and down for his four.

At the second extra hole, the par-4 10th, Gana ripped a 3-wood down the middle of the fairway, gripped down on 52-degree wedge from 99 yards, and flagged his approach to the front pin position.

"It was the best of shot [of my life] at the best time," he said.

Niemann’s chances were ended when his second shot resulted in a fried-egg lie in the left bunker, and Ortiz’s opportunity slipped away when his lengthy birdie putt missed inches low.

With their runner-up finishes, both Niemann and Ortiz received exemptions sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and Final Qualifying for the Open Championship.

But only Gana is headed to the Masters.