PANAMA CITY — Peruvian teen Julian Perico shot a tournament-record 6-under 64 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Latin America Amateur Championship.
The winner Sunday will receive an exemption to the Masters and spots in the final stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open and British Open.
At 17 the youngest player in the field, Perico played his opening nine in 6-under 29 at Panama Golf Club. On his second nine, he overcame a double bogey on the par-4 second with birdies on Nos. 2 and 3.
“I was hitting the ball pretty bad on the range, and I was like, ‘I don’t know what will happen today,'” said Perico, who attends Bishops Gate Golf Academy in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.
“On hole No. 10, I pushed my tee shot and I had to hit this stinger from underneath the trees. I hit it to 7 feet for birdie and I made it. After that, I don’t know what happened. I was hitting the ball perfect, the putts were falling in perfect. It was amazing.”
Alejandro Villavicencio, a reinstated amateur from Guatemala, was a stroke back. Panama’s Miguel Ordonez was tied for third at 67 with Colombia’s Nicolas Echavarria and Bolivia’s Jose Luis Montano.
Perico broke the tournament record of 65 set by Matias Dominguez in his 2015 victory in the inaugural event, and matched last year by Echavarria and Alejandro Tosti.
Dominguez, from Chile, opened with a 70. Defending champion Paul Chaplet of Costa Rica had a 81.