Of course, similar to the AAC, the big reward for the winner of the new LAAC is an invitation to compete in the Masters, along with spots to the champion and runner-up to final qualifying for the U.S. Open the Open Championship..
Golf’s governing bodies (and yes, that includes the Masters) believe this will help grow the amateur game in Latin America, particularly in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, and develop its young talent, as the AAC has in Asia, citing the success of its past winners, like Hideki Matsuyama and Guan Tianlang.
“Five years ago, we began a similar initiative in Asia, an event which was established with a goal of identifying heroes; heroes who would inspire others to take up the game,” said Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National.
“From Australia to Bhutan and all points in between, and with the considerable support of the R&A, I believe this tournament is already beginning to identify some truly great players: Hideki Matsuyama, as Peter (Dawson) mentioned, a kid only a few years ago, now ranked the 24th greatest player in the world on the professional tour; the teenage sensation, Guan Tianlang, 14 years old, competing at the Masters, stealing the show, endearing himself and the aspirations of millions of young kids who watched it.
“We have proven through this Asian initiative that golf can create role models; role models who, given the competitive opportunity, will emerge themselves as great players. And so today, we take another exciting step as we attempt to duplicate no, to do better, than what we have accomplished in Asia here in Latin America.”
Here’s a general fact sheet on the inaugural LAAC:
Latin America Amateur Championship Pilar Golf – Buenos Aires, Argentina January 15-18, 2015
The 120-player field will be comprised of the top male amateurs in Latin America.
Invitations for the championship will be sent to the leading players from the 27 IOC-recognized countries and territories from this region that are current members of the International Golf Federation (listed below). Each country/territory will be automatically provided two positions, which will be filled by their highest-ranked players from the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) as of November 1, 2014. If there are only one or no players from a given country/territory in the WAGR, the national golf association will nominate one or two players accordingly, for approval by the LAAC Executive Committee. The remainder of the field will be filled by taking the next highest ranked players from the WAGR with the maximum number of players allowed from a country/territory being six. The only exception is for the host country, which will be allowed a total of 10 players.
72-holes, stroke play with a cut for the leading 60 players plus ties after 36 holes. In the event of a tie, the winner will be decided by sudden death playoff.
Invitations and Exemptions
The champion will receive the following, beginning in 2015:
- - An invitation to compete in the Masters Tournament
- - An exemption into The Amateur Championship, conducted by The R&A
- - An exemption into the U.S. Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championshipfor which he is eligible
The champion and runner(s)-up will receive the following, beginning in 2015:
- - An exemption into Open Qualifying Series – Final Qualifying, held in July in the United Kingdom,with an opportunity to earn a place in The Open Championship 2015 at St Andrews
- - An exemption into final stage qualifying for the U.S. Open with an opportunity to earn a place inthe 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay
Countries and Territories Represented
27: Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Established in 1992, Pilar Golf has hosted the Argentina Open twice (2006, 2011), the Argentina PGA Championship twice (2002, 2003), the Argentina Stroke Play Amateur three times (1994, 2000, 2005) and is home to the Argentina Golf Association National Training Center.
During the 2011 Argentina Open, Pilar Golf played as a par-71 (36-35) and measured 7,148 yards.
Host Golf Association – Asociación Argentina de Golf (AAG)
The Argentina Golf Association, founded in 1926, is the organizing body of the estimated 45,000 players around the country. It conducts more than 30 official tournaments annually. The AAG will assist in the planning and execution of the LAAC by sharing its abundant resources and utilizing its many years of experience representing the sport’s best interests throughout this proud golfing nation.
The LAAC will be televised throughout the Latin America region and around the world. The broadcast is expected to be distributed live for two hours during all four days of play.
Here’s the official press release:
THE MASTERS, THE R&A AND THE USGA ANNOUNCE FORMATION OF THE LATIN AMERICA AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
— New event aimed at fostering the global development of the game — — Inaugural championship will be staged in Buenos Aires in 2015 —
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – The Masters Tournament, The R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA) announced today the formation of the Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC), a new amateur golf event aimed at stimulating growth and inspiring even greater interest in the game throughout South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.
The Founding Partners – with cooperation from the Argentina Golf Association, the 2015 host golf association – will support all aspects in the organization and execution of the event.
The champion of the inaugural LAAC and all future winners of the event will receive an invitation to compete in the Masters Tournament, beginning in 2015. In addition, the winner and the runner(s)-up will be exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open Championship and U.S. Open Championship. Finally, the champion will receive full exemptions into The Amateur Championship, U.S. Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible.
“Supporting the game’s continuous growth has been a responsibility taken very seriously throughout the 260-year history of The R&A,” said Peter Dawson, The R&A’s Chief Executive. “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.”
Mike Davis, Executive Director of the USGA, added: “This new championship represents another wonderful opportunity in the partnership that we enjoy with the Masters and The R&A to advance the amateur game around the world. The USGA is committed to the long-term health and sustainability of the game, and by partnering together we believe we can positively impact this region of the world where golf is already growing.”
“We believe this event will be motivating to current and future generations of golfers and, one day, create heroes that will inspire others to give the game a try,” commented Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament. “This belief has guided us well through the early successes of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and, with the collective expertise in guiding the game of golf provided by The R&A and the USGA, we are hopeful in achieving equally exciting results.”
During the announcement in downtown Buenos Aires, Dawson shared that the inaugural competition will take place January 15-18, 2015, at Pilar Golf, a course opened in 1992 near Argentina’s capital city that has hosted the Argentina Open twice (2006, 2011), among other national championships.
Invitations for the championship will be sent to the leading players from the 27 IOC- recognized countries and territories from this region that are current members of the International Golf Federation. Each country/territory will be automatically provided two positions, which will be filled by their highest-ranked players from the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) as of November 1, 2014. If there are only one or no players from a given country/territory in the WAGR, the national golf association will nominate one or two players accordingly, for approval by the LAAC Executive Committee. The remainder of the field will be filled by taking the next highest ranked players from the WAGR with the maximum number of players allowed from a country/territory being six. The only exception is for the host country, which will be allowed a total of 10 players.