Amateurs take aim at 2012 Masters
04 Apr 2012
by Benjamin Larsen of AmateurGolf.com

see also: The Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club

AUGUSTA, Georgia (April 4, 2012) -- An extremely talented group of amateur players will tee off Thursday at The Masters with high hopes of making a splash --- and making the cut.

Interestingly enough, it will be the last event as amateur players for two budding stars. Reigning U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft and British Amateur victor Bryden Macpherson will turn professional Monday, forgoing their exemptions into other majors this season.

This group also includes what is presumably the oldest first-time player in Masters history, Randal Lewis. The 54-year-old financial planner from Michigan won the 2011 U.S. Mid- Amateur. He's likely to be a fan favorite for his every- man quality.

The group, of course, also features three players sure to be back to Augusta and in contention in the near future. World No. 1 Patrick Cantlay, last year's low-amateur at Augusta Hideki Matsuyama and U.S. PubLinks champion Corbin Mills are all very capable of making the cut --- and then some --- this week.

Learn more about the amateur players golf fans around the country and world will undoubtedly be pulling for this week at The 2012 Masters:

Patrick Cantlay
Patrick Cantlay, 20, UCLA Sophomore
How he qualified: U.S. Amateur Runner-Up
Qualifications: For all of the great things Cantlay has done on the amateur circuit, his biggest claim to fame and silver lining this Masters week is, oddly enough, how he's fared in professional tournaments. This past summer, Cantlay put forth an impressive string of four straight Top 25 finishes, including a stellar performance at the Travelers Championshp in June. Cantlay is the top- ranked amateur player in the amateurgolf.com world rankings. Last year, Cantlay also won the NCAA's west regional and the Southern California Amateur. He was runner-up, too, at the Western Amateur and the NCAA National Championship.

Kelly Kraft
Kelly Kraft, 23, Denton, Texas
How he qualified: U.S. Amateur Champion
Qualifications: Kraft, a former star at Southern Methodist, will turn pro Monday and hopes to make a splash in his only major exemption before forgoing bids to the U.S. and British Opens. This season, Kraft has laid low, performing well at the Master of the Amateurs in Australia, finishing fourth in a high- quality event. Last year, however, Kraft catapulted to No. 5 in the world amateurgolf.com rankings with wins at the U.S. Amateur, Trans- Mississippi and Texas State Amateur.

Bryden Macpherson
Bryden Macpherson, 21, Australia
How he qualified: British Amateur Champion
Qualifications: Like Kraft, Macpherson will turn pro following the event and questions surround his preparation for this event as a professional career looms. That said, the former Georgia Bulldogs ace became only the second Australian to win the British Amateur and is currently the world's 25th-ranked amateur with solid play at the Australian Amateur, Dogwood and Jones Cup helping out.

Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama, 20, Japan
How he qualified: Asian Amateur Champion
Qualifications: Despite being one of the youngest players in this year's crop of amateurs, Matsuyama may be the member of the group most ready to shine at Augusta. Last year, Matsuyama made the cut and was the low-amateur at the Masters, tying for 27th. This year, he heads in with more confidence. Last season, he won the Asian Amateur and made the sweet 16 of the Japan Amateur. Currently tied for No. 25 in the world rankings by amateurgolf.com, Matsuyama also won a professional event on the Japan Golf Tour.

Randal Lewis
Randal Lewis, 54, Michigan
How he qualified: U.S. Mid- Amateur Champion
Qualifications: Being the oldest player to win the U.S. Mid-Am, Lewis may bring plenty of golf experience to the table but this the 54-year-old's first swing at Augusta. Lewis is a legend in Michigan and, being the average Joe of the field, is bound to gain supporters along the way. Lewis turned professional for a short time following his college career but opted to regain his amateur status and has a successful career in finance.

Corbin Mills
Corbin Mills, 21, Clemson Junior
How he qualified: U.S. Public Links Champion
Qualifications: It may be Mills' first trip to Augusta for The Masters, but he'll feel well at home. The Clemson star will have assistant coach Jordan Byrd, brother to PGA Tour player Jonathan Byrd (who helped provide some local knowledge during practice rounds) on his bag. And Mills, the No. 9 player in the world, has played well of late, firing a 65 in his most recent competitive round. In addition to the U.S. PubLinks, Mills won The Players Amateur and was tied for fourth at the Palmetto Amateur last season

Results For The Masters Tournament
T47CAPatrick CantlayLos Alamitos, CA60071-78-74-72--295
T54JapanHideki MatsuyamaJapan50071-74-72-80--297
62TXKelly KraftDenton, TX50074-75-77-80--306

View full results for The Masters Tournament

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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