Toto Gana of Santiago, Chile, topped countryman Joaquin Niemann and Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz in a two-hole playoff with a short birdie putt on the par-3 10th at the third Latin America Amateur Championship.
Gana stuck his tee shot to two feet on the final hole after saving par from 10 feet on the previous hole to advance. Gana, an AJGA alum who competed last May in the inaugural Sergio Garcia Foundation Junior Championship, earned a trip to the Masters in April, as well as exemptions into The Amateur Championship and the U.S. Amateur Championship. Gana will begin studies at Lynn University this spring as a member of its No. 2-ranked men’s golf team in Division II’s GCAA Coaches Poll.
In addition to Gana, runners-up Niemann and Ortiz have also competed in their share of AJGA tournaments in the past. Niemann, a verbal commit to the University of South Florida, won the Sergio Garcia Foundation Junior Championship and was named a 2016 First Team Rolex Junior All-American. Niemann is currently No. 13 in the Polo Golf Rankings. Alvaro Ortiz competed with the AJGA from 2009-14 before joining the University of Arkansas’ golf team. Ortiz won the 2011 Bass Pro Shops / Payne Stewart Junior Championship and later was named a 2013 Rolex Junior All-American.
With Gana’s victory, each of the three champions of the Latin America Amateur Champion are AJGA alumni. Matias Dominguez of Santiago, Chile, won the inaugural event in 2015 after competing with the AJGA from 2009-10. Paul Chaplet of San Jose, Costa Rica, then won in 2016 approximately eight months prior to competing in The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf.