Paul Chaplet wins Latin America Amateur Championship

Costa Rica's Paul Chaplet shot a 2-under 70 in the final round Sunday to win the second annual Latin America Amateur Championship and earn an invitation to play in the Masters in April.

Chaplet, 16, will be the second-youngest golfer to compete in the year's first major. No one from his nation has ever competed in the Masters.

"I wasn't expecting to win," Chaplet said. "I was expecting to shoot under par, which is my main goal, so that was accomplished. And with that came the win, so I can't really ask for much more."

Venezuela's Jorge Garcia needed a birdie on the par-4 18th to force a playoff, but his putt slid wide of the cup, giving Chaplet the victory.

Argentina's Gaston Bertinotti, the 54-hole leader, shot 77 and quickly fell out of contention. He made only six pars on his up-and-down day and finished tied for sixth.

With four birdies, two bogeys and 12 pars at Casa De Campo's Teeth of the Dog course in the final round, Chaplet secured spots in the U.S. and British Amateurs and is exempt into final qualifying for the U.S. Open in June and The Open in July.

He said he was 10 when his mother bought his sister a golf club, and Chaplet went along "not knowing what golf was."

"The coach told me, 'You want to hit a golf ball?' and I said, 'Yes.' And from that day on, I kind of grasped it," he said.

Chaplet plays at Valle del Sol in Costa Rica. He first shot par when he was 12 and set his sights on other Costa Rican players like Alvaro Ortiz, Jose Mendez and Andres Russi. They were older and better, and they were all at Casa De Campo this week.

"I wanted to be better and at least beat them, and that was my motivation to get better," Chaplet said. "And to be standing here with them by my side and being the one to hold up with them is a goal accomplished."

Chaplet is in his senior year of high school with hopes of playing college golf in the United States. He said the four colleges on his list are San Diego State, Arizona, Minnesota and Sam Houston State.

"Those are the four I'm talking to right now, and I hope to some day be in one of those," he said.

An appearance at Augusta National the first full weekend in April surely won't look bad on the teenager's application.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.