Argentina’s Ela Anacona produced a dominant display to secure a superb 12-shot victory in the Women’s Amateur Latin America championship presented by the R&A and the Annika Foundation at Pilar Golf.
To the delight of the home crowds, the 23-year-old closed her brilliant week with a final round of 3-under-par 69 for a tournament-record 15-under 273. She even signed off with a birdie on the 18th before being hugged by her jubilant Argentine teammates.
Over the Blue and White course at the venue north of Buenos Aires, Anacona finished well clear of runner-up Vanessa Gilly, 21, from Venezuela after her 72 for 3-under 285. Argentina’s Maria Olivero, 49, who led after 36 holes, dropped to third place after a closing 78 for a 2-under total.
Making her third appearance in the championship after two top-15 finishes, Anacona becomes the second Argentine to win the title after Valentina Rossi triumphed last year.
“I can’t believe I won by 12 shots,” Anacona said. “I was just trying to do my best, and I’m so happy with the result. I was quite nervous last night and woke up at 6 a.m. but managed to get back to sleep. Once I was on the second hole, I felt my focus was there. When I won, I just wanted to find my dad as he means so much to me, and I couldn’t have done it without him.”
The University of Arkansas fifth-year student earned exemptions into three major championships in 2024: the AIG Women’s Open, the Chevron Championship and the Amundi Evian Championship. Anacona, who received a victory video message from Annika Sörenstam, also will compete in the Women’s Amateur Championship next year.
“I’m so excited, but I think right now I want to soak everything in,” Anacona said. “I guess tomorrow I will realise I’m going to play in three majors. It’s exciting to be able to prepare for them.
“I was on the 16th when I thought, ‘OK, I think I’m going to win this thing,’ and then I remembered the AIG Women’s Open is in St. Andrews next year. I’m so excited and can’t wait to play the Old Course.”
With a four-stroke lead overnight to compatriot Olivero, Anacona was in control, but she and her nearest challenger bogeyed the first in the windy conditions.
Anacona, who finished runner-up in the Annika Invitational Latin America three years in a row from 2016, quickly regained her composure with immediate back-to-back birdies after strong approach play to stretch her advantage to six shots.
Olivero, the oldest competitor in the field and the winner of the Argentine Women’s Stroke Play for an 11th time on the previous weekend, responded with a birdie on the fourth but a further dropped shot at the fifth and Anacona’s birdie at the short par-3 eighth took the lead to seven.
After finding trees at the ninth, a double bogey from Anacona gave her rivals some hope, but she then made birdies at the 10th and 14th before Olivero faded with further problems.
Gilly, who was fifth last year, recovered from opening bogeys to make birdies on Nos. 6, 7 and 13 as she edged Olivero for second spot. Chile’s Agustina Gomez Cisterna was the only other player under par, at 1-under.
“I’m happy with my game that I was able to put myself in a good position like last year,” Gilly said. “I came here to try and win, but it’s golf, and I still gave my all on every hole and learned a lot in the championship.”
Added Olivera: “Ela is an amazing player. She has all the shots. I had an amazing week. If you had said to me at the start of the week, I will finish third, I would have said, ‘Where do I sign?’ I will be back next year to have more fun. I am 50 next year.”
A field of 59 talented players representing 13 countries competed in the Women’s Amateur Latin America, staged at Pilar Golf for the third time.
The Women’s Amateur Latin America 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 one another, with 22 players in the field this week younger than 18 and 37 players having previously competed in the championship.
Lima Golf Club in Peru will host the 2024 Women’s Amateur Latin America championship presented by the R&A and the Annika Foundation on 21-24 November. For more information, on the WALA, click HERE.
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