Players dreaming of Masters invite at Latin America Am

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 13, 2016, 10:09 pm

LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic – The PGA Tour’s Sony Open isn’t the only tournament this week offering an invitation to the Masters.

That’s also the ultimate prize here at the second annual Latin America Amateur Championship, which begins Thursday at Pete Dye’s spectacular Teeth of the Dog course at Casa de Campo Resort.

Created by Augusta National Golf Club, the R&A and USGA, this 109-man, 72-hole stroke-play tournament follows the blueprint for the Asia-Pacific Amateur, which was designed to provide an avenue for aspiring golfers in parts of the world where the sport isn’t as popular. Since 2009, that tournament has produced such winners as Hideki Matsuyama (twice) and Guan Tianlang, both of whom made the cut at the Masters as amateurs.

The world-class resort, corporate backing and first-rate amenities – a players’ game room! – have already elevated the LAAC into a must-play for many of the top amateurs from South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Of course, dangling that Masters carrot – as well as exemptions into the final stage of qualifying for both the U.S. Open and Open Championship – will always help boost participation.

“The prize at the end of the road is quite appealing,” said 25-year-old Argentine Matias Simaski, “so for me it became one of the three most important amateur events in the world.”

Each country in the region, 29 in all, is represented with at least two participants. The World Amateur Golf Ranking is used to fill out the rest of the field, with Argentina, Chile and Mexico with eight players apiece.

Unlike the U.S. Amateur, which in recent years has been overrun with college players, the LAAC field is a mix of players who are either on scholarship in the States or trying to carve out their own path in their home country.



At No. 34 in the WAGR, Juan Alvarez of Uruguay is the highest-ranked player in the field. (There are seven top-100 players overall.) The 22-year-old reinstated amateur posted a top-20 at this event last year, after a closing 78, and recently earned a runner-up finish at the PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s Argentina Open.

“I believe that I’m more prepared this year,” he said through a translator.

The two protagonists from last year’s tournament are back for another run at the title.

Defending champion Matias Dominguez, who won by a shot at Pilar Golf Club in Argentina, went on to miss the cut at the Masters (76-76). After completing his degree from Texas Tech last month, he intends to stay amateur for the foreseeable future to focus on other interests.

Two years ago, he took a semester-long class in Lubbock called “Building Winning Teams,” which brought together the captains from all 15 sports in the school’s athletic department. The goal was for Dominguez to develop all of the tools to be an effective leader and then empower his teammates to reach their potential.

Instead, “that changed my path,” he said.

Dominguez, 23, has plans to create a leadership program in Santiago and also assist the Chilean Golf Federation. Those are the projects he is passionate about. The pro game can wait, perhaps forever.

But for this week, at least, Dominguez is a star, his face plastered on all of the pre-tournament promotional materials. He’s popular among his peers, too, and for good reason.

“How was the Masters? That’s the most common question,” he said, smiling.

Memories of that experience remain vivid – the exhilaration of finding the invitation in the mail, the kindness of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Zach Johnson on the range, the roar from his hole-in-one during the Par-3 Contest.

“That was my whole week already,” he said.

The past year was more traumatic for LAAC runner-up Alejandro Tosti, now a sophomore at Florida.

The 19-year-old Argentine was the only player in the field to break par all four rounds last year, but he missed a 4-footer on the 71st hole and failed to capitalize when Dominguez made bogey on the last.

“It was really hard for me,” he said. “After that moment, (I realized) I was trying to make everything perfect, and I found that things happen and they are never going to be perfect. So you have to expect them to not be perfect and just live with that and try your best.”

Turns out his freshman year with the Gators was far from perfect, too, as he adjusted to college life with new friends, new responsibilities and a new schedule with his family some 16 hours away. He never felt more alone than last spring, when a tooth infection began to cause headaches, sweating, vomiting, fatigue and light sensitivity during a practice round with two-time major champion Angel Cabrera.

Later, doctors found that Tosti was suffering from encephalitis, and he was hospitalized and hooked up to a catheter for nine days. After being released, he administered the IV fluids himself for the next 20 days. Florida’s best player missed the team’s surprising run at NCAA regionals, which culminated in its first championship berth under new coach J.C. Deacon.

Now fully healthy, Tosti concedes: “I was lucky.”

This week, the goal for Tosti, and the rest of the field, is to earn that invitation to the Masters, a dream that for many never seemed possible until a few years ago.

“When I was a little boy, one time I was watching the Masters on TV and I said, ‘One day I want to play at Augusta,’” Alvarez said. “I found out there was going to be a tournament where you could play at Augusta, and here we are. We are going to try our best.”

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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.



Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.