The fourth edition of the Latin America Amateur Championship begins Saturday (WatchESPN) at Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago, Chile, where the winner of the tournament will earn a spot in the 2018 Masters.
Started in 2015 and organized by the Masters Tournament, the R&A and the United States Golf Association, the LAAC is a grow-the-game initiative meant to help spark interest in the region with the ultimate goal of a Masters invite.
The winner also earns exemptions into the final stage of qualifying for The Open and sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, as well as full exemptions to The Amateur Championship and the U.S. Amateur.
The tournament hopes to develop the game in South America, Central Amateur, Mexico and the Caribbean. Only amateurs from those regions are eligible to participate in the 108-man field. Many of the players in the field play collegiate golf in the United States.
The Masters launched the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2009 with a similar goal of growing the game in the region. Hideki Matsuyama, a two-time winner of that tournament, now is a worldwide star after qualifying twice for the Masters through that tournament victory.