Argentina’s Maria Olivero continued her excellent form to lead the Women’s Amateur Latin America championship presented by The R&A and ANNIKA Foundation after the opening day at Pilar Golf.
Olivero, the oldest player in the field at the age of 49, signed for a superb seven-under-par 65 – after finishing with four straight birdies – and claim a two-shot advantage over compatriot Ela Anacona.
In the second group of the day, Olivero expertly handled the warm and breezy conditions on her championship debut and maintain the form that saw her win the Argentine Women’s Stroke Play for the 11th time on Saturday.
A field of 59 talented players representing 13 different countries are competing in the 72-hole stroke play championship, being staged for the third time at the venue north of Buenos Aires in Argentina.
“For me, I wanted four-under-par this morning because I was talking about that,” said Olivero. “Four under was enough for me. So I was very pleased with my finish, you can’t do better than that.
“I’m like the mum here, most of them can be my child! I want to play well so they don’t laugh and show that I can perform.
“I think I have a chance now but I want to take it day-by-day and not look forward so much. I want to keep playing well, keep scoring and put the ball where it should be on the greens.”
Olivero, who tied the lowest score in championship history, has Anacona for company near the top after the 23-year-old closed with four birdies in her last six holes. The University of Arkansas student posted a 67 as she looks to build on two top-15 finishes in the championship.
Anacona said, “It’s always hard to start a tournament like this with all the expectations, but I think I managed it well so I’m happy with the way I played.
“My ball striking was the best part of my game today. I struck many balls close to the hole. The course is playing very close to what it was playing last year. It’s very windy and it’s getting harder.”
A group of five players are well-placed on two-under-par – Emily Odwin from Barbados, Mexico’s Vania Alicia Simont, Venezuela’s Vanessa Gilly, Catalina Monroy from Colombia and Holly McLean, the first player from the Cayman Islands to compete in the championship. Defending champion Valentina Rossi recorded a one-over-par 73.
“I felt really solid with my game,” said Gilly. “I started off with not great ball striking but was then able to figure it out. I’m taking the positives from tomorrow and can build from there.
“It’s my third appearance in this championship and I think my game has grown mentally. It would be so big for Venezuela if I could win and I feel proud to be near the top of the leaderboard.”
The champion this week will play alongside the stars of women´s professional golf from around the world in three major championships next year – the AIG Women’s Open, The Chevron Championship and The Amundi Evian Championship.
She will also compete in The Women’s Amateur Championship and The Hilton Grand Vacations ANNIKA Invitational presented by Rolex in 2024.
The Women’s Amateur Latin America championship presented by The R&A and the ANNIKA Foundation follows the successful introduction of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship by The R&A in 2018.
Its aim is to strengthen the pathway to the very highest levels of golf by providing a platform for the region’s best women’s amateur golfers to compete against each other, with 22 players in the field this week under the age of 18.