Abel Gallegos has earned his Masters (admission)…
The 17-year-old Argentine golfer became the first Argentine to win the Latin American Amateur Championship on Sunday when he rallied from a two-shot deficit with a 4-under 67 and a four-shot victory at Mayakoba.
Next stop: Augusta National for the Masters.
“A dream come true,” Gallegos said through a translator. “I’ll try to enjoy it to my full potential and see what happens.”
The victory gives Gallegos a spot in the Masters and The Open Championshipthis summer at Royal St. George’s.
Gallegos was five shots behind toward the end of the third round at El Camaleon Golf Club, site of the Mayakoba Classic on the PGA Tour‘s fall schedule, when he birdied the last two holes in a strong wind to close within two of Jose Vegas of Colombia.
Gallegos caught Vega, a 26-year-old regional sales director for Trackman, with a birdie on the third hole. He took the lead for the first time with a birdie on the par-5 seventh and led by two at the turn. And the teenager kept right on going until he birdied the 18th to finish at 4-under 280, the only player under par.
He won by four shots over Aaron Terrazasof Mexico, who also shot 67. Vegas only managed two birdies in his round of 74 and finished alone in third.
The previous five winners of the tournament — organized by Augusta National, the R&Aand the USGA — were from Chile (three), Costa Rica and Mexico. This is the first year the R&A is granting the Latin American Amateur winner a spot in The Open. Gallegos is also exempt into the final stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open, and he is exempt from qualifying for any USGA amateur event for which he is eligible.
He said he plans to turn pro instead of going to the United States for college. He just doesn’t know when.