Neal Shipley is ready to tackle Augusta National for the first time
09 Apr 2024
by Justin Golba of AmateurGolf.com

see also: The Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club, Neal Shipley Rankings

Neal Shipley (USGA Photo)
Neal Shipley (USGA Photo)

Thanks to his runner-up finish at the 2023 U.S. Amateur Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo., Neal Shipley of Ohio State has earned a spot in The Master’s Tournament.

And he is ready to make the most of the opportunity. 

Shipley, who finished runner-up to Nick Dunlap, is a graduate senior at Ohio State and has had his fair share of close calls in big events. 

After defeating J.M. Butler of Auburn in the semifinal, he knew he had secured a tee time at Augusta.

“The USGA guys pulled me up to the clubhouse to do media, and it kind of hit me, and I turned to my caddie, and I said, ‘We have a tee time at Augusta now,” Shipley said after his semifinal win. “That was when I knew, but it really hasn’t felt real or set in until recently.”

U.S. Amateur: The Final Four is set in Colorado

Shipley added, “The semifinals are one of the highest-pressure matches because of that reason. In the finals, you are playing for a trophy and a spot in history, but the opportunities that come along with the semifinal are massive.”

Shipley is currently ranked No. 19 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings and No. 12 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com U.S. Rankings.


Even though he knew what was on the line as the field was cut to just four players, he kept his mind focused on the job at hand.

“When you are on the golf course, we did a good job all week of staying in the moment, focusing on each shot, and letting my golf take care of it,” Shipley said.

His shot on No. 17 in the semifinal was one of the most impressive and memorable shots of the championship.

Playing against Dunlap and then seeing Dunlap go on to turn professional helped give Shipley added confidence in his own game. Shipley fell to Dunlap 4&3 in the 36-hole final match.

"He's got a phenomenal game; he is one of the best putters out there. Whenever you get a chance to tee it up with a guy of his caliber is good to get a baseline (of where you are)," Shipley said. "He rolls it better than me, but I do a lot of things just as good or even better.

Shipley finished fourth in the Elite Amateur Golf Series, recording runner-ups at the Trans-Mississippi Amateur,  the Sunnehanna Amateur, and the Dogwood Invitational

"I had been playing really well all summer, and I gained a lot of confidence in my game," Shipley said. "I put myself in a lot of positions to win all year, so I knew under pressure, my game could hold up." 

Shipley added, "In those pressure situations, I knew I had the confidence to pull off the shot when I had to. 

To follow the summer up, Shipley won the Southwestern Invitational to open 2024 and has momentum heading into the Masters.

Southwestern Invitational: Neal Shipley leads Ohio State to the impressive sweep

"With the collegiate schedule we play, it is good preparation because we play some of the best tournaments and players in the country," Shipley said.

Now, he will head to Augusta in hopes of replicating the success he had last summer when the lights were brightest.

He played the course in January and learned some of the intricacies that Augusta National has to offer.

"When you drive down Magnolia Lane, it really doesn’t even feel real," Shipley said. "It is crazy to think that what I did at the U.S. Amateur led me to that. The biggest thing is thinking through the golf course before the week because there are so many things to learn." 

Shipley plans to fly into Georgia the Saturday before the tournament and catch some of the ANWA. He was also able to connect with PGA Tour pro Russell Henley, who Ohio State assistant coach Jimmy Beck knows as they are both from Columbus, Ga.

"He has been super helpful and brought some insights," Shipley said. "He is really underrated and has played great for years now." 

Henley has recorded three top-15 finishes at Augusta and finished T4 last year.

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