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A look at the six amateurs at The Masters
06 Apr 2010
by Pete Wlodkowski of AmateurGolf.com

see also: The Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club

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AUGUSTA, Georgia (April 5, 2010) -- If there is theme among the amateur contestants at this year's Masters Invitational, then it has to be "youth reigns supreme."

In addition to having the youngest-ever contestant, Matteo Manassero, the six amateur lineup has another player who has yet to attend college (Byeong-Hun An) and only one player with previous Masters experience (Nathan Smith).

Smith, a member of the winning USA Walker Cup team in 2009, and the winner of the US Mid Amateur plus the Pennsylvania State Amateur, brings one of the top games in the world (he's ranked No. 4) and past experience at Augusta National. I would rank him as a favorite to make the cut, and even contend on the weekend if the putter gets going.

And on the opposite end of the age spectrum, if the "much more experienced than his age" Manassero gets hot, and finds himself among the leaders on the weekend, talk of the next Sergio, or even Tiger, is sure to be swirling around the azaleas of Georgia.

To enter our Masters contest, just post your pick for low amateur to our Facebook fan page. (Note: You must be a Facebook user and fan of amateurgolf.com's page to post to our wall.)

Here is a rundown of this year's amateur contestants:

Byeong-Hun An (Korea)

Byeong-Hun An

Byeong-Hun "Ben" An qualified for The Masters by winning the the 2009 US Amateur Championship. At 17 years old, he became the event's youngest champion with a 7 & 5 win over Ben Martin in the 36-hole final. (He turned 18 shortly after the tournament, in September.) An was a Quarterfinalist at the 2009 Western Amateur. Currently a senior at Bradenton (Fla.) Preparatory Academy, An has committed to playing college golf at the University of California. He got his first taste of the PGA Tour in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he shot 77-73 to miss the cut by 5 strokes. Athletics definitely run in An's family -- his parents both won medals in table tennis at the 1988 Olympics. An and fellow Korean Chang-won Han will become the first two amateurs in the Masters from any country besides the United States. He is currently ranked No. 20 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Men's World Rankings. view profile>

Brad Benjamin (United States)

Brad Benjamin

Brad Benjamin qualified by winning 2009 US Amateur Public Links Championship. He won over a tough competitor, defeating Canadian Nick Taylor, the low amateur at the 2009 US Open, 7 & 6 in the 36-hole final. Benjamin was only the second left-hander to win the event. Prior to the USAPL victory, he was planning on turning pro, but during the post-round interview had no problem changing his mind to take advantage of the chance to play in The Masters. The hard-working Benjamin is a 2009 graduate of the University of Memphis, where he was the two-time Conference USA Scholar Athlete of the Year. Hometown is Rockford, Ill. Benjamin is ranked No. 116 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Men's World Rankings. view profile>

Chang-won Han (Korea)

Chang-won Han

Chang-won Han qualified in a new category for 2009/2001, as winner of the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship. The Asian Amateur, played at the Han posted a 12-under-par 276 during the four-round event to win by five over 115 golfers from 30 countries. After the tournament, Han admitted that the thought of a Masters Invitation was on his mind. “I have to admit that it was the thought of playing in the Masters that made me nervous,” Han said. “I had never even thought it would be possible for me to be playing in the Masters as an amateur.” In addition to the Asian Amateur victory, Han earned medalist honors at the Nomura Cup, (the Asia-Pacific Amateur Team Championship) while representing Korea, also helping his team to win the overall championship. Han is currently ranked No. 96 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Men's World Rankings. view profile>

Matteo Manassero (Italy)

Matteo Manassero

Matteo Manassero, who his friends call "Manny" was crowned the youngest winner of the British Amateur Championship in its 124-year history at 16 years old last year. He defeated Sam Hutsby 4 & 3 in the 36-hole final, and crossed reached another milestone by becoming the first Italian to win the title. The win qualified him for the 2009 British Open where he finished T12 and claimed low amateur honors, standing on the podium next to Tom Watson as the trophy for "Champion Golfer of the Year" was awarded to Stewart Cink. Manassero will become the youngest player to ever compete in the Masters, eclipsing the 1952 record of Tommy Jacobs of 17 years, 2 months. He told amateurgolf.com, in a recent player profile, that he plans to turn pro very shortly after the tournament. Manassero is currently ranked No. 1 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Men's World Rankings. view profile>

Ben Martin (United States)

Ben Martin

Clemson golfer Ben Martin qualified as runner-up at the 2009 US Amateur Championship where he was defeated by Byeong-Hun An 7 & 5 in the 36-hole final. The Senior Accounting major will become the third Clemson golfer to play in the Masters while still a Clemson student, joining Chris Patton (1990) and D.J. Trahan (2001)...Prior to his strong performance at the US Amateur, Martin qualified for the 2009 US Open and earned first-team All-ACC honors (also in 2007) and was a 2009 Academic All-American. Another star on Martin's resume is a victory at the 2006 Palmetto Amateur. He is currently ranked No. 32 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Men's World Rankings. Hometown is Greenwood, S.C.
view profile>

Nathan Smith (United States)

Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith, the oldest of the amateur qualifiers at age 31 -- and the only one with prior Masters experience -- qualified as winner of the 2009 US Mid-Amateur. (He also won the championship in 2003, providing him with a 2004 Masters invite and pairing with Arnold Palmer in his final Masters.) He was a member of victorious US Walker Cup Team in 2009, compiling a 2-1 record. Smith also won the 2009 Pennsylvania State Amateur and placed fourth at the 2009 Sunnehanna Am. He is currently the ranked No. 4 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Men's World Rankings. view profile>

 

ABOUT THE The Masters

One of Golf's four professional majors traditionally invites amateurs who have reached the finals of the US Amateur, or won the British Amateur or the US Mid Amateur. Also included are the winners of the relatively new Asia Pacific Amateur and Latin American Amateur.

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