Mateo Fernández de Oliveira leads the Latin America Amateur Championship with one lap to go

Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira gave an exhibition of play and dominates with four strokes of advantage – Credits: @Charles Laberge

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico.- A golf machine of excellence, a delight for the eyes within a paradisiacal landscape. Mateo Fernández de Oliveira played a round that he will remember all his life, in a tournament that could mean the great springboard for his career: he signed 63 hits (-9), totaling 198 (-18) and leads the Latin America Amateur Championship by four one day from closing. An advantage over the Mexican Luis Carrera (68 yesterday) that brings him closer to qualifying for three of the four majors this year: the Masters, the US Open and the British Open, in that chronological order. This Sunday he will try to be “in his zone”, as he likes to say regarding the mental issue, so that his nerves do not betray him and he continues displaying a performance that is similar to that of the PGA Tour professionals.

The comparison with the golfers who pocket money for acting in the maximum circuit is not whimsical: Fernández de Oliveira equaled the record for the first 54 holes of Victor Hovland, Scott Brown and Fabián Gómez on the same court as the Puerto Rico Open. The first two ended up being champions and the man from Chaco was one hit away from entering a playoff. In addition, the Sanisidrense matched the lowest lap of the LAAC in history: the owner of that brand of 63 corresponded exclusively to Joaquín Niemann, that in the final day of Santiago de Chile, in 2018, he signed that score and prevailed with sheer forcefulness. Shortly after, the trans-Andean would make the leap to the PGA Tour and win two titles.

“This is a sport of moments,” says Fernández de Oliveira, 22 years old and trained at the University of Arkansas. “It is waiting for the moment to get into your mental process. The birdie on the 11th hole got me going and I kept my patience, a factor that was key”, he says. And he also confesses that he has been feeling calmer on the pitch than off it. Judging by the exalted function that he gave, it is rigorously true: nine birdies in the third round (five in a row from 11 to 15) and no errors. His closing on the 18th turned out to be a full orchestra, with another birdie that forces his main challenger, the Mexican Carrera, to make extreme efforts for the outcome, which will be televised live on ESPN from 12 o’clock in our country. “I wouldn’t consider it the best round of my life because I still have one more to play. But it was the one where I felt most comfortable, because I saw that I had everything under control”.

At last year’s event in Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic, Fernández de Oliveira started on Sunday seven shots behind the lead and finished second. Now, he will look at everyone from above: “That time I had to put a number in the Club House and it didn’t reach me. Now I like to be a leader”, he assures, in a sample of maturity and with a style associated with method and analysis, without leaving any aspect to chance. That does not mean that a strategy full of creativity has been allowed to calculate pitfalls and avoid palm trees, because the route was not without difficulties either. Although every time he found himself in trouble, he emerged with striking ease.

Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira and his caddy, Tomás Mariscotti;  So far, the formula has been working.Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira and his caddy, Tomás Mariscotti;  So far, the formula has been working.

Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira and his caddy, Tomás Mariscotti; So far the formula has been working – Credits: @Charles Laberge

In the final group there will be another Argentine, Vicente Marzilio, who has also been accumulating merits to achieve something important in the Grand Reserve course, on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. The Hindú Club player signed 66 shots, appears five behind his compatriot and is still excited, although on Saturday there was a detail that caught his attention: “I was surprised to see the board at 17; That’s when I realized that they had filled the field with birdies. I thought I was closer to the point, but it doesn’t matter: my idea is to play with less control and more relaxed so my golf can flow”.

Two other albicelestes, Manuel Lozada (-10 total) and Mateo Pulcini (-8), they got into the top 6 and do not want to give up in the LAAC, the tournament that will anoint a champion this Sunday and give him three invaluable rewards in the same awards ceremony.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.