PANAMA CITY — Santiago de la Fuente of Mexico birdied the last two holes for a 6-under 64 on Sunday, giving him a two-shot victory in the Latin America Amateur Championship and a berth in three majors later this year.
De la Fuente became the second Mexican to win in the nine-year history of the Latin America Amateur. The senior at the University of Houston rallied from three shots behind Omar Morales of Mexico on a blustery day at Santa Maria Golf Club.
Morales, a UCLA junior who made double bogey on the par-5 closing hole on Saturday, closed with a 69.
De la Fuente finished at 10-under 270 and earns exemptions in the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open.
“It’s a very unreal feeling,” de la Fuente said. “Even though I’ve been preparing myself for the winning moment, the winning put, chasing the guy that’s winning, winning by five. I visualized every scenario possible. Still feels unreal and still feels — I don’t think there’s even words to describe it.”
De la Fuente caught Morales with a birdie on the 11th hole, and they matched pars until de la Fuente stuffed his approach to tap-in range for birdie on the 17th. Leading for the first time all day, de la Fuente made a 10-foot birdie putt for the final margin.
Morales as runner-up earns a spot in final qualifying for the U.S. Open and The Open.
Alvaro Ortiz, who like de la Fuente grew up in Guadalajara, is the other Mexican winner of the Latin America Amateur, in 2019 at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.
De la Fuente grew up on a nine-hole course that no longer exists. He spent two years at Arkansas Tech before transferring to Houston.