By Sean Martin
AUGUSTA, Ga. (April 5, 2012) -- Two amateurs from opposite sides of the
Pacific Ocean are in contention at Augusta National after shooting 1-under
71s in the first round of the Masters. Patrick Cantlay, the world's No. 1
amateur, and Hideki Matsuyama, the Asian Amateur champion, will begin
Friday four strokes off Lee Westwood's lead.
Cantlay’s presence in professional events has become commonplace.
Matsuyama’s continued success in this, the only tournament he plays in the
mainland United States, is starting to feel familiar.
Matsuyama is in this year's Masters after successfully defending his Asian
Amateur title. He tied for 27th here last year to earn low-amateur honors.
He also won late last year on the Japan Tour, becoming the first amateur to
win there since Ryo Ishikawa. Matsuyama’s finish last year was the best by
an amateur at Augusta since Ryan Moore tied for 13th in 2005.
Cantlay, last year’s college player of the year, was low amateur at the U.S.
Open (T-21), the start of five consecutive top-25s on the PGA Tour.
“I feel really comfortable playing in pro events,” said Cantlay, a UCLA
sophomore. “I don’t feel quite as in awe as I did at the U.S. Open.”
Cantlay missed just four greens and three fairways Thursday and averaged
292 yards per tee shot. His comfort at Augusta National also can be
ascribed to help from his peers at Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, Calif.
They've had their success at Augusta National, most recently with John
Merrick, who was sixth in 2009. Merrick told Cantlay to “embrace the
week,” their swing instructor, Jamie Mulligan, said.
It’s been seven years since multiple amateurs have made the cut at the
Masters. That could change this year. Kelly Kraft, the U.S. Amateur
champion, shot 74; he double-bogeyed the first hole, but birdied Nos. 12-
15 before bogeying the last two. U.S. Amateur Public Links champ Corbin
Mills also shot 74.
This is Cantlay’s first Masters. He’s also exempt into the U.S. Open and
Open Championship for his amateur accomplishments. Matsuyama is the
rare amateur in recent times to make consecutive Masters appearances.
Matsuyama’s success here has been of infinite importance to the Asian
Amateur, which Augusta National helped start in 2009, by showing that the
Asian Am can produce a champion worthy of an invaluable Masters
He missed just two fairways and hit 10 of 18 greens Thursday. He
averaged 290.5 yards per tee shot. He got to 2 under par, one shot off the
lead at the time, before pushing his approach into chairs right of the 18th
green and making bogey.
“I’m really glad to have the good results in the first round,” Matsuyama
said, “but at the same time I see so many improvements that I have to
Tom Watson, who’s used to playing with impressive amateurs in major
championships, spoke highly of Matsuyama. Watson was paired with
Matteo Manassero and Tom Lewis at the 2009 and 2011 Open
Championships, respectively, when each earned low-amateur honors.
“He’s a very solid player. He hits the ball high, he knows what to do with
the ball, he can shape the ball when he wants to,” Watson said of
Matsuyama. “He’s raw, but he’s good. There’s a lot of talent in that young
The same could be said of several amateurs in this year’s Masters.
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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