Amateur event launched to grow game in Latin America

Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:28am EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - In a bid to grow amateur golf in South and Central America, the sport's governing bodies and organizers of the Masters tournament have created a new event, the Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC), to be launched next year.

The inaugural edition will be played from January 15-18 at Pilar Golf Club on the outskirts of Buenos Aires in Argentina where the winner will earn an automatic invitation to take part in the Masters three months later.

Both the tournament winner and the runner-up will also be exempt into the final stages of qualifying for the 2015 British Open and U.S. Open, organizers said on Wednesday at the official launch of the LAAC in downtown Buenos Aires.

The organizing bodies hope the event will help stimulate the game's development in the region and unearth top players in much the same way that the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship has been able to do so effectively since its inception in 2009.

Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship winner in 2010 and 2011, and Chinese teenager Tianlang Guan, who won the title aged just 14 in 2012, have already emerged as genuine talents at golf's highest level.

"Supporting the game's continuous growth has been a responsibility taken very seriously throughout the 260-year history of the R&A," Royal and Ancient (R&A) chief executive Peter Dawson said in a statement.

"Having been involved in this region of the world for many years, we understand the potential impact a championship of this stature can have on golfers with dreams of competing at the highest level.

"We are once again delighted to embark on such a worthwhile opportunity with both the Masters and the USGA (United States Golf Association)."   Continued...