Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira earns bid into 2023 Masters field with Latin American Amateur Championship victory

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Messi’s World Cup victory in December (understandably) grabbed all the headlines, and Argentina’s incredible string of sporting achievements got a boost on Sunday when Argentine Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira won the Latin American Amateur Championship to book a place in the 2023 Masters, the US Open and The Open.

Fernandez de Oliveira, the 34th-ranked amateur in the world, shot a 67 in Sunday’s final round at the Grand Preserve Golf Club in Puerto Rico to claim his first title at the event. A year ago, Fernandez de Oliveira almost missed a playoff that could have included him in the 2022 Masters. This year, he left no doubt, defeating Luis Carrera by four strokes and the rest of the field with at least six.

“I am still very shocked. I think my life has changed,” said Fernandez de Oliveira. “I’m looking forward to a great year. I’m going to take advantage of the three opportunities I’ve been given to win this event. So I’m very happy and I just want to to enjoy every second of it.”

Fernandez de Oliveira, who is finishing his senior year at Arkansas, had a great summer in 2022 after that close call at the previous Latin American Amateur Championship. He finished ninth at the NCAAs and then runner-up at the Western to Austin Greaser, who, coincidentally, played in the 2022 Masters himself after finishing second at the 2021 Amateur in SA.

For Fernandez de Oliveira, making it to the three majors will be a source of pride not only for himself but also for his nation, which has produced one Masters winner (Angel Cabrera) and could to have made another. In 1968, Argentine Roberto de Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard that he kept from Monday’s 18-hole play at that year’s Masters.

De Vicenzo didn’t show up empty in the majors, though. He won the Open on the same course – Royal Liverpool – where this year’s event will be played. Fernandez de Oliveira can’t wait to get over there after his appearances at Augusta and Los Angeles Country Club.

“Going back off Roberto [De Vicenzo] he won in 1967, it’s very special. I went there in 2016, and the minute I walked into the clubhouse, they asked me where I was from and I said ‘Argentina’, and they said to me, ‘OK, come with me’. They took me to the dining room where they have pictures and everything about where he won. I felt very proud.”

Fernandez de Oliveira completely dominated the week in Puerto Rico. After opening 68-67, he absolutely set the golf course on fire with a 63 on Saturday before sealing the event with his quick 67 on Sunday. In total, he made 25 birdies and an eagle to get to 23 under for the week.

Not really the first Argentine to win this event. Abel Gallegos beat Aaron Terrazas back in 2020 by four strokes before that year’s Masters was postponed until November. Other Latin American Amateur Championship winners include Aaron Jarvis (Cayman Islands), Toto Gana (Chile) and – perhaps most famously, Joaquin Niemann (Chile), who won the event almost twice.

Fernandez de Oliveira takes the 2023 Masters field to 81 with his victory in Puerto Rico and will try to become the first player since Alvaro Ortiz in 2019 to make the cut at Augusta National in April .

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