Gaston Bertinotti nears Masters berth after 69 at Latin America

Bertinotti leads Latin American Amateur after Round 3 (4:39)

Gaston Bertinotti leads the Latin America Amateur Championship by one stroke after a third-round score of 69. (4:39)

LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic -- Gaston Bertinotti of Argentina shot 3-under 69 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead in the Latin America Amateur Championship, leaving him one round away from playing in this year's Masters.

Bertinotti, a 20-year-old junior at Campbell University in North Carolina who is 234th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was at 5-under 211 at the Casa De Campo's Teeth of the Dog course.

"Really, I don't want to think about the Masters right now, because it's 18 holes, a lot of players, and I'm just one shot ahead of the other one," Bertinotti said in a news release after his round. "So like I say, shot by shot, hole by hole, that's what I think. In 18 holes, a lot of stuff can happen."

The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invitation to the Masters this year, and he will be exempt into final qualifying for the U.S. Open in June and the Open Championship in July.

Jorge Garcia of Venezuela had a 69, putting the 19-year-old a shot off Bertinotti's lead.

"Today showed that you can go out there and get eaten by this golf course," Garcia said to tournament officials upon completion of the third round. "The way I played today was very fun. It was a very patient round. I hit the ball probably the best I've hit it in a couple months. I gave myself a lot of 12-to-15-footers for birdie."

Garcia is 36th in the WAGR and won the South Beach International in Miami this past December.

Argentina's Alejandro Tosti, who was runner-up at last year's inaugural Latin America Amateur Championship, sits another shot back after a 73. Nicolas Echavarria of Colombia, who had the 36-hole lead, shot 77 and was three behind.

Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz, who owned a share of the 18-hole lead after Thursday's play, told the rules committee that he signed an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified from the event, according to tournament officials.

Saturday's third round saw the 51 players who reached the weekend combine for a 74.99 stroke average.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.