Paul Chaplet made history this past week as the first Costa Rican golfer to qualify for a Masters. Chaplet earned his place in the 80th Masters Golf Tournament by winning the 2016 Latin America Amateur Championship, held at the Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.
The second youngest golfer to ever participate in a Masters, Chaplet only started playing golf six years ago, at the age of 10. Now, at 16 years old, he has a promising future ahead of himself, starting with golfing on the Augusta course where so many greats have gone before him. The high school senior played the course with 1998 Masters Champion Mark O’Meara and David Lingmerth, Sweden, for the opening two rounds. England’s Danny Willet took the title this year, claiming his first major, taking down defending champion Jordan Spieth.
While Paul Chaplet was the youngest golfer on the course, he wasn’t the only amateur golfer at Augusta. Bryson DeChambeau, the 22 year old reigning U.S. Amateur and NCAA champion, Derek Bard, U.S. Amateur finalist, Sammy Schmitz, Cheng Jin, 18 year old Asia Pacific Amateur Champion, and Romaine Langasque, France’s top amateur and winner of the British Amateur Championship are all hoping that this Masters will be the start of their long careers in the world of golf.
After the Masters, Chaplet will be looking towards upcoming events such as the U.S. and British Amateur Championships where he will go up against the other amateur golfers that he just met at the Masters. Chaplet will also be looking to the final qualify for the U.S. Open and the British Open. Chaplet was supported by his family cheering him on at the Virginia course, as well as his little sister who caddied for him at the tournament.
At just 16 years old and in his first Masters, Chaplet has the chance to become the youngest person to win the tournament if he can do so within the next 5 years. Currently, Tiger Woods holds the title of youngest Masters champion for winning the tournament when was 21 years old. Chaplet has the opportunity to golf with such icons as Angela Cabrera, Ian Woosnam, Vijay Singh, and Zach Johnson. Tiger Woods withdrew from the tournament due to injuries.
With Chaplet as the first Costa Rican to golf at the Masters, Costa Rica is feeling very proud of the young athlete. Each year, the winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship qualifies for the Masters and the 2017 Latin America Amateur Championship will be held at the Club de Golf Panama, in Panama City.