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With Masters berth on line, Oliva Pinto, Roberto Nieves lead Latin America Amateur

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LA ROMANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Segundo Oliva Pinto of Argentina played bogey-free Thursday for a 6-under 66 and shared the lead with Roberto Nieves of Puerto Rico in the Latin America Amateur Championship.

Oliva Pinto, one of several Arkansas Razorbacks in the tournament, is coming off a runner-up finish in the South American Amateur in Ecuador last week. He kept a clean card at Teeth of the Dog, the famed Pete Dye course at Casa de Campo. Nieves, who plays college golf at Delaware, reached 7 under until a bogey on the par-4 eighth.

The winner earns a spot in the Masters in April and The Open in July.

Oliva Pinto hit the wrong ball during the final round last week in Ecuador, his second unusual violation in amateur events. More famous was the fourth round at Bandon Dunes in the 2020 U.S. Amateur, when he was tied with Tyler Strafaci on the final hole. The Argentine's caddie at Bandon Dunes inexplicably brushed his hand in a bunker to test the sand, which resulted in a loss of the hole — and the match — to Strafaci, who went on to win the championship.


Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


“I was feeling very comfortable,” Olivo Pinto said. “I was comfortable last week in the South American Amateur. This week, I brought a lot of good feelings from there, and I keep talking to my coaches, trying to fix whatever goes sideways during the rounds. But I’m feeling great.”

They had a two-shot lead over Vicente Marzilio of Argentina, Andrey Borges of Brazil and Martin Leon of Chile. Another shot back was a group that included Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira of Argentina, who won the South America Amateur last week. He also plays at Arkansas.

Nieves had reason to be in good spirits regardless of his share of the lead. Organizers announced earlier Thursday the 2023 Latin America Amateur would be held at Gran Reserve Golf Club in his native Puerto Rico.

Nieves, who missed the cut in the Puerto Rico Open last year on the PGA Tour, is playing the Latin America Amateur for the first time.

“I try to go out and not have many expectations, take it shot-by-shot, hole-by-hole, and I think I did a good job of that today, hit the ball well and hit it in the right spots and I put a good one together,” he said.