Clockwise from top left: Lin, Ogletree, Augenstein, Michel, Sugrue, Gallegos
The first full week in April, when the Azaleas bloom. Heading into the tournament's 84th playing, only once had the Masters not been held in the fourth month of the calendar year — its inaugural running in late March of 1934.
Six amateur players will experience what will hopefully be the first and last time Augusta National opens its gates in November for this spectacle. The current format for amateur exemptions, in place since 2015’s creation of the Latin America Amateur Championship, allows for a wide variety of the world’s talent to earn their spot at what will strangely be this season’s final major, and the 2020 group certainly showcases that diversity with five continents represented.
Making a rare second appearance as an amateur is China’s Yuxin Lin
, winner of two of the last three Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships. His feat, accomplished only once before (Hideki Matsuyama), gives Lin a shot at redemption after firing 79-80 in 2018, though he still managed to beat out two other amateurs in the field with that score.
Lin nearly won the individual title at the Southern Highlands Collegiate in March, which is often one of the strongest collegiate fields of the year. Though he lost in a playoff to University of Texas junior Parker Coody, his USC Trojan teammates appreciated Lin’s 8-under par display over three rounds to help claim the team title
by two shots over Coody’s Longhorns.
Recent Georgia Tech graduate Andy Ogletree
didn’t expect to have the chance to repeat at the U.S. Amateur. Though he missed the cut on Oregon’s rugged coast, posting 74-72 at Bandon Trails and Bandon Dunes, Ogletree geared up for his Masters debut with a quarterfinal appearance at the Western Amateur and three stops on the PGA Tour, most notably the RBC Heritage just up the road from Augusta National.
“I’m weighing my options,” Ogletree told Golf Digest about his future plans. “I could turn pro after the Masters or I could even go back to school. The Walker Cup
is at Seminole in May. That was one of the coolest weeks of my life. I’m just going to have to figure out what works best for me.”
Losing to Ogletree at Pinehurst in 2019 was John Augenstein
, who is finishing up his senior year at Vanderbilt University. The native of Owensboro, Ky. kept things rolling after his runner-up finish with three top-threes in support of his Commodores, including a six-shot win at the Desert Mountain Intercollegiate, as well as a triumphant 4-and-3 American-clinching victory
over Englishman Thomas Plumb at the Walker Cup.
“From a mental standpoint, I felt the same as any other tournament, I felt very comfortable. I felt like I belonged there,” Augenstein told Golf Channel of his U.S. Open experience at Winged Foot.
By far the youngest player in the field is Abel Gallegos
of Argentina, who at age 17 won the Latin America Amateur Championship by four shots as the only player to finish under par. The powerful teenager fired 70 at Bandon Trails on day two of the U.S. Amateur to force his way through stroke play, though he drew mid-amateur stalwart Stewart Hagestad and a narrow 1-up defeat in the opening round of match play.
Fellow Argentine and 2009 Masters champion Angel Cabrera sent this message to Gallegos following his Masters-qualifying victory
at Mayakoba: “I will be waiting for you at the Masters so you can enjoy that great tournament.”
23-year old James Sugrue
of Ireland captured the 2019 British Amateur in his homeland, which was only the second time in tournament history that the event was not held in Great Britain. Sugrue’s 1-up defeat of Scotland’s Euan Walker in the 36-hole final was the first British Amateur win
for an Irishman since 2005 (Brian McElhinney).
Sugrue had a busy 2019 summer following his victory, narrowly missing the cut at The Open Championship, reaching the first round of match play at the U.S. Amateur, and joining the GB&I team at Royal Liverpool for the Walker Cup, where he’d be teammates with the man (Alex Fitzpatrick) who beat him 5-and-4 at Pinehurst.
Representing Australia as the first international winner
of the U.S. Mid-Amateur is Lukas Michel
, who at age 25 conquered Colorado Golf Club and American Joseph Deraney to punch his ticket to the 2020 Masters. Michel, a graduate of the University of Melbourne and a former caddie at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, trailed Deraney by three holes twice during the 36-hole final before making five birdies in the final 11 holes to overtake the 2019 Mississippi Amateur champion.
ABOUT THE The Masters
One of Golf's four professional majors
traditionally invites amateurs who have reached
finals of the US Amateur, or won the British
the US Mid Amateur. Also included are
the winners of the relatively new Asia Pacific
and Latin American Amateur.
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