The Masters: Meet the seven amateurs who will be competing for the Silver Cup
03 Apr 2023
by Jim Young of

see also: The Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club

L-R: Bennett, Carr, Crowe, Fernandez de Oliveira, McClean, Potgieter, Sargent
L-R: Bennett, Carr, Crowe, Fernandez de Oliveira, McClean, Potgieter, Sargent

Starting with its two founders, Clifford Roberts, the club’s first chairman, and the greatest amateur of all-time, Bobby Jones, amateurs have always held a special place in the history of The Masters.

Just earning an invitation into the Masters is a dream come true for any amateur golfer and because of the natural ties to Jones, they are held in the highest regard once they arrive on the grounds of Augusta National. As part of a longstanding tradition, amateurs are allowed to stay in the clubhouse for the week, are invited to the opening dinner and are paired with former champions for the first two rounds.

Six of the seven amateurs played their way into the field while a seventh, Gordon Sargent of Vanderbilt who won last year's NCAA men's individual championship as a freshman, received a special invitation.

While no amateur has ever won The Masters, Frank Stranahan (1947), Ken Venturi (1956) and Charlie Coe (1961) each finished second. Coe was the low amateur on six occasions, Charlie Yates earned the honor five times while Harvie Ward, Stranahan, Billy Joe Patton and Jay Sigel earned low amateur three times each.

Ryan Moore, winner of the NCAA Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Public Links and Western Amateur in 2004, was the last amateur to finish in the top 20 at Augusta, tying for 13th in 2005.

There have been seven golfers who won the Silver Cup as low amateur and later won the Green Jacket, including Cary Middlecoff, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Sergio García and Hideki Matsuyama.

Which amateur will write his own chapter in Masters lore?

Here's a look at the seven amateurs who will be competing for this year's Silver Cup:

• • • • •

Sam Bennett (Madisonville, TX)
How he qualified: Current U.S. Amateur champion
The Texas A&M senior earned a trip to Augusta by virtue of winning the 122nd U.S. Amateur last summer with a hard-fought, 1-up victory over Ben Carr at The Ridgewood Country Club. Ranked as high as sixth in the world amateur rankings, Bennett's road to the championship took him through a gauntlet of highly-touted players, as he recorded five wins against players at No. 27 or better in the world rankings, including three opponents ranked in the top-10. he was the first Texan since Kelly Kraft (2011) to lift the Havemeyer Trophy.

Ben Carr (Columbus, GA)
How he qualified: U.S. Amateur runner-up
The U.S. Amateur runner-up made the four-hour drive to Augusta National Golf Club from his home in Columbus, Ga. twice as a teenager to watch Monday practice rounds, but they were rained out by 11 a.m. each time. Carr will have an extended stay in Augusta this year, as the fifth-year senior at Georgia Southern will fulfill a lifelong dream of playing in The Masters.

Harrison Crowe (Sydney, Australia)
How he qualified: Current Asia-Pacific Amateur champion
Crowe, ranked as high as 17th in the world amateur rankings, punched his ticket to Augusta by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship held in October. His win in Thailand capped off a sensational year for the 21-year-old Aussie, who also won the Australian Master of the Amateurs in January and the Golf Challenge New South Wales Open, becoming just the sixth amateur in tournament history to lift the Kel Nagle Cup.

Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
How he qualified: Current Latin America Amateur champion
The Arkansas Razorback turned in a record-setting performance at the Latin America Amateur Championship in January when he posted a 23-under score at the Grand Reserve Golf Club in Puerto Rico to earn a trip to Augusta. He has three top-10 finishes this spring for the Razorbacks including a win at the Hal Williams Collegiate in February.

Matthew McClean (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
How he qualified: Current U.S. Mid-Amateur champion
The 29-year-old optometrist from Belfast defeated his close friend and countryman Hugh Foley to win the 41st U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship last September at Erin Hills to earn a spot in this year's Masters field. After qualifying for match play as the seventh seed, McClean won five matches, including a 20-hole thriller against Casey Carnes of San Antonio, to reach the final against Foley, who had defeated him at the North of Ireland Amateur at Royal Portrush a few months earlier. McClean has remained in good form since his win at Erin Hills, recording top-10 finishes at the South Africa Stroke Play (t-8) and Azalea Invitational (t-10) while reaching the semifinals of the South African Amateur Championship.

Aldrich Potgieter (Mossel Bay, South Africa)
How he qualified: Current British Amateur Champion
Potgieter has been one of the hottest amateurs in the world over the last year. Following his victory at the 127th Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes which earned him a trip to Augusta, Potgieter collected wins at the South African Amateur Championship Stroke Play Championship and most recently, at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, a mere 20 minutes away from Magnolia Drive.

Gordon Sargent (Birmingham, Ala.)
How he qualified: Special Invitation
The reigning NCAA individual champion from Vanderbilt received a special invitation from Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, despite not being otherwise qualified to compete. He is the first amateur to accept a special invitation since Aaron Baddeley in 2000. Sargent has finished no lower than seventh in five spring events for the top-ranked Commodores this spring and has two wins this season at the East Lake Cup and the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational.

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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