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Players vying for Masters invite at Latin America Amateur

The seventh hole on the Teeth of the Dog course at Casa de Campo.
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LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic — Along the shores of the Caribbean Sea this week at Casa de Campo, 108 amateurs representing 28 countries will compete for a single invitation to this year's Masters.

This week marks the fifth playing of the Latin America Amateur Championship, an event organized by ythe Masters, the R&A and the USGA to grow the game in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The tournament is modeled after the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which itself was founded in 2009.

Whoever successfully navigates Pete Dye's Teeth of the Dog course will earn an April trip to Augusta National to compete in the Masters. He will also receive an invitation to the Amateur Championship at Portmarnock, the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst and exemptions into sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and Final Qualifying for The Open at Royal Portrush.

Last year's champion, Joaquin Niemann, joined the professional ranks and is now playing on the PGA Tour after securing special temporary status last year and then full-time status for the 2018-19 season. But the LAAC's three other previous winners – Chile's Matias Dominguez, Costa Rica's Paul Chaplet, and Chile's Toto Gana – are in the field. Chaplet, now a sophomore at Arizona State, won this event as a 16-year-old here at Casa de Campo in 2016.

Peru's Luis Fernando Barco, who played his college golf at Purdue, is the highest-ranked player in the field at 24th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.