The third edition of the ANNIKA Invitational Latin America was one for the books, keeping everyone on their toes until the very last putt dropped.
Cristina Ochoa of Colombia, the leader after the first and second rounds, took home the title after a playoff against Argentine native Ela Anacona.
In the first round, Ochoa carded a 4-under-par 68, making birdies on holes No. 2, 3, 5, 8, 10 and 17, with only one double bogey on No. 7. One stroke back was Chile’s Carolina Alcaino, Mexico’s Cory Lopez and Colombia’s María José Bohorquez. Vanessa Gilly, from Ecuador, sat in fifth with Argentina’s Ela Anacona and Valentina Rossi, after posting first round 2-under-par 70s.
Ochoa kept her momentum on day two, firing another impressive round of 68 to reach 8-under-par ahead of the final round. Her Saturday round included an eagle and six birdies, with some trouble on Nos. 9, 11 and 14. It gave her a comfortable three-stroke lead over Ana Elacona of Argentina, who placed second the past two years of the event. Elacona moved into solo second on the strength of a 3-under-par second round.
For the first time in the history of the event, the ANNIKA Invitational Latin America champion as decided in a playoff. An early eagle by Anacona and double-bogey by Ochoa quickly shrank the overnight lead. The Columbian bounced back with birdies on No. 5 and 6, but she quickly gave one back with a bogey on No. 7 to make the turn at 8-under-par.
Anacona made her first birdie of the day on the seventh to keep the heat on Ochoa. She followed this up with consecutive birdies on Nos. 14 and 15, while Ochoa bogeyed, to take her first lead of the week. Showing exceptional poise, Ochoa made a clutch birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to force the playoff. The Bogotá native eventually sealed the deal on the third hole to claim the 2018 ANNIKA Invitational Latin America title.
As champion, Ochoa (68-68-73 – 209) received an invitation to compete in the Latin America Southern Amateur. She also received an invitation to participate in the 2019 ANNIKA Invitational USA presented by Rolex. Joining her for the event at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. will be the runner up Anacona (70-69-70 – 209) and third-place finisher Maria Jose Bohorquez (69-71-72 – 212).
As with every ANNIKA event, the girls enjoyed “More Than Golf” activities this week. They included the Winning Approach Seminar, where they learned about the college recruiting process in the United States. Campbell University Head Golf Coach, John Crooks, and the R&A Latin America representative, Vicky Villanueva(a former Ohio State collegiate golfer), fielded questions from the players about participating in college golf.
The girls were also treated to a clinic from Annika, where she spoke about vision and why it’s important to set goals. Competitors also attended a gala dinner where they sang karaoke, and interacted with young players during a golf skills competition.
After the final round during the awards ceremony, it was announced that the fourth-annual ANNIKA Invitational Latin America will move to Montevideo, Uruguay in 2019. “I am extremely happy with the success we’ve enjoyed in Buenos Aires, and the Argentine Golf Association has treated us so well,” said Annika. “I’m looking forward to bringing this prestigious event to another part of South America and working with the Uruguay Golf Association next year.”
Thank you to all our sponsors including The R&A, Rolex, Mastercard, Cutter&Buck and AHEAD for supporting this event, and our partners the Argentine Golf Association and this year’s host club, Tortugas Country Club, for having us. It was a great week of camaraderie and competition!