Amateurs competing at the 2020 Latin America Championship (LAAC) at Mayakoba in Mexico will have an extra incentive to finish on top of the leaderboard at the end of the week.
That’s because the champion will receive an exemption into The 149th Open at Royal St George’s and a chance to contest for the prestigious Claret Jug against the world’s best golfers.
It is the first time in the history of the tournament that the LAAC champion will receive the exemption to play in The Open provided he remains an amateur.
The region’s flagship amateur championship, which takes place from 16-19 January, also offers the winner an invitation to The Amateur Championship, the Masters, an exemption into the US Amateur Championship and an exemption into the final stages of qualifying for the US Open.
“There is a strong tradition of amateurs competing in The Open and we look forward to seeing more players from Latin America and the Caribbean competing in the years to come.” r&A chief executive Martin slumbers
But it’s not just the winner who could be teeing it up at St George’s - the runner(s)-up also receive exemptions into Final Qualifying for The Open and Sectional Qualifying for the US Open.
The LAAC now becomes one of five elite amateur events to offer the world’s most talented amateur golfers the opportunity to qualify for The Open – golf’s original championship.
It joins The Amateur Championship, the European Amateur Championship, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and the US Amateur Championship in offering exemption to the winner.
“We are delighted to offer a place in The Open for the winner of the 2020 Latin America Amateur Championship”, said Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A.
“The championship has made huge strides in the five years since it was first played and you only have to look at the success that Joaquin Niemann has enjoyed on tour to recognise the growing strength of the top players in this region.
“There is a strong tradition of amateurs competing in The Open and we look forward to seeing more players from Latin America and the Caribbean competing in the years to come.”
Since 2015, the LAAC has been conducted in partnership between The R&A, the Masters Tournament and the USGA and was introduced to grow and develop golf in Latin America.
The championship has now evolved to feature 108 of the region’s leading amateur golfers, according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking, from 28 countries.
Niemann, the 2018 LAAC champion, went on to win the Military Tribute at The Greenbrier on the PGA TOUR last year and secured a place on the International Presidents Cup team last month.
Mark Lawrie, Director – Latin America at The R&A, added: "The R&A is committed to developing and enhancing the status of amateur golf in Latin America and giving amateurs the opportunity to play on the world’s greatest stage.
“This new exemption will provide a fantastic opportunity for the players competing in the Latin America Amateur Championship to qualify for The Open.”
For more information about the 2020 Latin America Amateur Championship please visit http://www.laacgolf.com/