LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic (AP) — Julian Perico of Peru ran off four straight birdies early on the back nine Friday and closed with another for a 6-under 66, giving him a three-shot lead and the 36-hole scoring record at the Latin America Amateur Championship.
Segundo Oliva Pinto of Argentina also made a big run on the back nine of Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo, only that was atone to his rough start in the second round when he had three bogeys on the opening four holes and failed to birdie the par-5 second.
Oliva Pinto salvaged a 72.
Two other Argentines, defending champion Abel Gallegos (69) and Vicente Mazilio (71), were four shots behind.
Perico was at 9-under 135, breaking the 36-hole record set by Andre Tourinho in 2015 at Pilar Golf Club in Argentina at the first Latin America Amateur.
The winner of the Latin America Amateur earns a spot in the Masters and in the British Open at St. Andrews. Gallegos won in 2020. The championship was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perico and Oliva Pinto are seniors at Arkansas.
Perico played bogey-free with a conservative approach and aggressive lines when the opportunity was there. He had a pair of 6-foot birdie putts on the 11th and 12th holes, made longer putts on the next two and was poised to make it five in a row until his 3-wood off the tee at No. 15 left a little too close to the green.
“I was conscious of what was going on. I knew my position in the tournament,” Perico said. “I kept taking good lines off the tee and hitting the fairway. Whenever I had a good number to attack a pin, I went for it. It was a pretty clean round. I was very patient out there. Never forced anything, just put the ball in the fairway, put the ball on the green.”
Fifty-two players made the 36-hole cut, which was 6-over 150.
One day after playing bogey-free, Oliva Pinto felt he could do nothing right.
“I just woke up, I wasn’t feeling that good with my game in the morning, and things just weren’t going my way,” he said. “But I was able to be patient and keep being aggressive and make a couple birdies on the back nine.”
The Arkansas teammates will play together in the third round, with so much on the line. Perico is playing the Latin America Amateur for the fifth time. He first played while still in high school.
“I showed up and I almost won it but I had zero expectations and I have zero expectations here, either,” Perico said. "I’m just trying to play my game and have fun. If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, I’m going to go practice and try to be better the next week.
“I’m just having fun trying to represent my country, my university, my name, the best way I can and I think I’m doing pretty good with that.”