When they lined up on Weds. with Augusta National
Chairman Fred Ridley, the three ams were in
their order of finish: Osborne - Long - Strafaci
Augusta National photo by Barry Koenig
We won't have an amateur to watch this weekend, and there won't be one present in the Butler Cabin during the awards ceremony on Sunday.
But in all fairness to the fearless trio of Tyler Strafaci
, Charles "Ollie" Osborne
, and Joe Long
, the course was playing tough for everyone. And all three had their moments.
For Osborne, that moment came right around "Amen Corner." In a span of four holes he made three birdies (on Nos. 8, 9, and 11). The 2020 U.S. Amateur runner-up
was feeling some magic, while putting himself in a position to make the cut.
After opening with a 76, Osborne stood at 4-over on the 12th tee.
After getting through the tricky par-3 unscathed Osborne was probably licking his chops with the two par-5s ahead of him, but he pulled his tee shot into the stream on No. 13 and made bogey, then missed a 4-foot par save on No. 14 after missing the green long and left. Now at 6-over, Osborne's chances of playing the weekend were slim; then he made two more bogeys coming in to finish at 8-over. Despite being 5 shots behind the cut line, Osborne left as the top finisher among the trio of amateurs.
Alas, you need to make the cut in order to be presented with the "Silver Cup" award at the awards ceremony on Sunday.
Next, there was Long, the 2020 British Amateur Champion
. An opening 82 meant nothing short of a miracle round (especially in these conditions) would allow him to play the weekend. But Long was determined, and he posted the most-improved round of not only the three amateurs, but most golfers in the field as well. Long had a stretch of three straight birdies from Nos. 13-15 where he hit both the par-5s in two and nailed an downhill right-to-lefter on No. 14 for birdie as well. Long's 82-72 finish was 10-over, but his second round was the lowest by any of the amateurs by four shots.
Strafaci, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion
, had a rougher go of it, finishing ahead of only one player in the field (Larry Mize) at 17-over. He got some nice Friday TV time with a late pairing, and took advantage of it by making 40-foot plus putt from the front of the green on No. 14 to the back right hole location. And his smile was priceless. With just a short few holes remaining, Strafaci was soaking in every bit of Augusta National and with good reason. It's in his blood.
As John Steinbreder wrote for Masters.com on Monday, April 5:
Start with his having studied and played golf at Georgia Tech, which is the alma mater of Bobby Jones, co-Founder of Augusta National and the Masters, as well as Matt Kuchar and Andy Ogletree (both of whom also won U.S. Amateur titles and went on to earn Low Amateur honors at the Masters in 1998 and 2020, respectively).
Then consider that Strafaci’s grandfather Frank, an amateur stalwart with 27 wins on his playing résumé, also competed in a pair of Masters, in 1938 and 1950. This year will mark only the second time that a grandfather-grandson pair have played in the Tournament (Tommy Armour and Tommy Armour III).
That’s a lot to be taking to the first tee on Thursday morning. But Strafaci the Younger does not seemed to be the least bit phased.
“Sure, I’ll be a little nervous,” said the 22-year-old, who per tradition will be paired for the first two rounds with the current Masters champion, Dustin Johnson. “But I am not putting pressure on myself. I just think it’s cool to be here. I think it’s cool that all these years later, there’s another Strafaci in the Masters. I am going to be a kid, make some fist pumps, make some birdies and have some fun.”
No matter what happens with Strafaci's career (and he will not turn pro until after the Walker Cup in May) he has this experience, and the long putt on No. 14 to look at, forever.
With every shot a click away on Masters.com, it's easy to follow -- check out the putt here >
With the 2020 behind us, and a full schedule of amateur golf planned for 2021, we hope to have 6 amateurs in the field in 2022.
Related: Only 3 amateurs to tee it up in the Masters, tied for fewest ever
MASTERS AMATEUR STATS
* Best finish: Frank Stranahan (tie for second), 1947; Ken Venturi (second), 1956; Charlie Coe (tie for second), 1961
* Last top-10 finish by an amateur: Charlie Coe, T9 in 1962.
* Last top-15 finishes by an amateur: Casey Wittenberg, T13 in 2004; Ryan Moore, T13 in 2005.
* Amateur participants who later won the Masters as professionals: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson, Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, Ben Crenshaw, Craig Stadler, Trevor Immelman, Mark O'Meara, Charles Coody, Tommy Aaron and Cary Middlecoff.
* Low 18-hole score – 66 Ken Venturi (1956)
* Low 36-hole score – 135 Ken Venturi (1956, 66-69)
* Low 54-hole score – 210 Ken Venturi (1956, 66-69-75)
* Low 72-hole score – 281 Charlie Coe (1961, 72-71-69-69)
* Most starts: Dick Chapman, 19 (1939-62); Charlie Coe, 19 (1949-71)
* Most starters, tournament: 26 in 1966
* Fewest starters, tournament: 3 in 1942, 2021