Peruvian Julián Périco surged into a three-stroke lead after the second round of the Latin America Amateur Championship at Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog course.
In his fifth appearance at the LAAC, being staged for the seventh time and the third at Casa de Campo, Périco’s 9-under-par score broke the previous 36-hole record of Brazilian André Tourinho at the inaugural 2015 edition by one stroke and gave him a three-stroke advantage over Argentina’s Segundo Oliva Pinto (-6).
Consistent game plan
“I felt great today. I had the same game plan as yesterday to stay in the moment and it worked. I feel I am doing things right, particularly with my attitude and staying positive on the course,” said Périco, who has two previous top-six finishes in the LAAC.
The LAAC champion will receive an automatic invitation to the Masters Tournament and an exemption for The Open as well as aplace in the final stages of qualifying for the US Open.
The chasing pack was led by two other Argentines at 5-under: defending champion Abel Gallegos and Vicente Marzilio. On the same mark are Aaron Jarvis from the Cayman Islands, Mexican Santiago de la Fuente and Puerto Rican Roberto Nieves, who was the co-leader after the first round.
Back nine birdies
Périco made his move on the back nine, notching four successive birdies from the 11th and adding another at the par-5 closing hole. “I birdied 11, 12, 13, 14. Whenever I had a chance to attack the pin, I went for it. But it was a very clean round, I never forced anything”, said Périco.
He was joined in the top ten by University of Arkansas teammates Mateo Fernández de Oliveira and Oliva Pinto.
“Julián did a great job. He played really well,” said Oliva Pinto, who had a slow start to his second round. “I guess I was not feeling that good with my game in the morning. But I was able to keep being aggressive and make a couple of birdies on the back nine. We have two tough days ahead of us. I am sure we are going to enjoy them and see who the best of the field is.”
Gallegos in contention
Gallegos, who lifted the LAAC trophy at Mayakoba in 2020 and went on to play in the Masters Tournament and The Open, moved quietly into contention with a 3-under-par round of 69. The Argentine bounced back from dropped shots on the 16th and 17th with a birdie at the last, his sixth of the day.
“The goal I set for myself is to contend on the weekend and I am doing that well. I believe I have to continue this path to have a chance on Sunday,” said Gallegos, who could be the first two-time winner in the championship’s history.
Mexican de la Fuente has been working hard to follow in the steps of his countryman Álvaro Ortiz, winner of the 2019 LAAC, the second time it was played at Casa de Campo. “There has been a lot of preparation for this tournament. I never thought about being in a position. I am just thinking about playing solid and if it happens, it happens,” said de la Fuente, who is playing his second LAAC after finishing T33 in 2020 in his home country.
Also at 3-under-par were Benjamin Saiz-Wenz from Chile, Virgilio Paz Valdes from Venezuela and Jeronimo Esteve from Puerto Rico. The other former champion in the field, Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet, who won at Casa de Campo in 2016, made the cut on the 6-over-par cut mark.
Players from 22 countries made the cut, more than at any previous edition of the LAAC and will play at the weekend. Yadhu Urs (4-over) of Saint Lucia and Kurt Rivers (5-over) of Turks & Caicos each became the first person from their respective country/territory to ever make the cut at the LAAC.
Tomorrow’s third round gets underway at 7:30 a.m. local time.