A field of 113 players from 20 nations came together for the South American Amateur Championship, with England’s Paul Howard winning the men’s title and Peru’s Lucia Gutierrez lifting the women’s trophy.
With the assistance of The R&A, the ninth staging of the championship took place last week at Barranquilla Country Club in Colombia.
The event marks the fifth consecutive year that Colombia has hosted the 72-hole stroke play event, with the championship set to move to Peru in 2015.
The 63 men and 50 women faced hot and blustery conditions over the four days of competition at Barranquilla Country Club, which is situated along Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
On the men’s side, Howard ensured the trophy remained in English hands after securing a six shot victory over runner-up Ricardo Celia of Colombia.
The 23-year-old from Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club closed out the championship with a 69 for a total score of 284, four under par. He becomes the second Englishman to win the championship, succeeding 2013 champion Callum Shinkwin.
"It's unbelievable. I could not have asked for a better ending to this great week,” said Howard, who counted the victory as his top amateur achievement.
“It was my first time here and I loved it. We played in difficult conditions and I am delighted to have won.”
In the women’s division, Gutierrez became the first South American Amateur champion from Peru and brought the trophy back to South American soil after it was won by Canadian Brooke Henderson in 2013.
The four-time Peruvian junior champion edged out Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh (Beaconsfield) with a birdie on the final hole to win by a single shot.
"I'm very happy about this, it has always been my dream to win the South American Amateur and it was what I wanted most. It has been a great experience to win here,” said Gutierrez, who finished with a total score of 300, 12-over par.
By winning the South American Amateur Championship, Howard and Gutierrez both move up significantly in the WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKING™. Gutierrez climbs 38 places to 55th while Howard vaulted ahead 108 places to crack the top 100 and become the 69th ranked men’s amateur.
The R&A contributed £25,000 to the staging of the event in 2014 and has supported the championship for the past several years. Subsidies were also offered to players from Canada, England, Finland, India, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to assist with travel and accommodation.
The R&A’s Executive Director – Working for Golf, Duncan Weir commented, “This was a superb championship played on an excellent course in difficult conditions.”
It is obvious that the standard of play in South America is continuing to rise and we look forward to supporting this event again next year and beyond.”
In addition to the South American Amateur, The R&A is set to support a new championship in the region in 2015. The inaugural Latin America Amateur Championship is scheduled for January 15 to 18 2015 at Pilar Golf Club near Argentina’s capital city of Buenos Aires and will feature top players from 27 countries throughout South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The winner will earn a place at Final Qualifying for The Open Championship and the U.S. Open Championship, as well as an invitation to The 2015 Masters Tournament.