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Amateurs follow different paths to Augusta

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By Ed Rudd

GolfWRX Contributor 

The view from the Crow’s Nest atop Augusta National’s clubhouse is reserved for a few lucky amateurs.  The tradition at the Masters allows amateur invitees to stay in the Crow’s Nest during their time at the tournament, a perk that not even members are allowed.  A small staircase from the locker room leads to the quarters at the peak of the clubhouse, but the road to getting there is much longer, and much more winding, for this year’s five amateur competitors.

The Masters has invited five amateur champions to compete in 2012.  They are Kelly Kraft, the current U.S .Amateur champion; Randal Lewis, reigning Mid-Amateur champ; Bryden Macpherson, current British Amateur champion; Hideki Matsuyama, the Asian Amateur champion; and Corbin Mills, U.S. Amateur Public Links champion.  Winning their respective titles is just the first step, with looming decisions on turning pro, attending college, and continuing battles on the links these fine golfers face on their way to Magnolia Lane.

Kelly Kraft, stellar member of SMU’s golf team, had to dispatch Patrick Cantlay, Golfweek/Sagarin ranking’s current No. 1 amateur, to win his U.S. Amateur title. Kraft has decided to turn pro after this year’s Masters, opting to forfeit exemptions to this year’s U.S. & British Open championships and attempt to qualify as a professional.  Those are tough choices leading down a challenging path.

Australian British Amateur champion Bryden Macpherson decided to withdraw from the University of Georgia in order to get ready for competing at this year’s Masters, a move that strongly indicates he will turn pro sometime after the tournament. He and Kraft will have the honor of meeting in a head to head competition prior to the Masters in this year’s Georgia Cup, a traditional meeting of reigning U.S. vs. British amateur champions that began in 1998.

Randal Lewis has the honor of being the oldest U.S. Mid Amateur winner at 54 years of age. Lewis, a Central Michigan grad and stalwart of the Michigan amateur scene, was briefly a pro from ’80 to ’82 before regaining his amateur status.  Randal’s road to the Masters was paved by continually knocking on the door at USGA events through the 90’s and early 00’s before finally breaking through in 2011.

Hideki Matsuyama might get the same Crow’s Nest bunk he had at last year’s Masters, as he is a repeat Asian Amateur Champion.  Matsuyama has tried his hand at professional level competition in Japan, winning the Taiheiyo Masters which included an international field of professionals.  Hideki is the third ever amateur winner on the Japan pro tour.

Clemson’s Corbin Mills will be dealing with some personal challenges besides Augusta’s famed undulating greens.  Corbin’s grandfather, Boyd, who treated him to a trip to watch the Masters a few years ago, passed away earlier this month.  Mills will have help and support from caddy Jordan Byrd, who sometimes carries the bag for PGA Tour pro and brother, Jonathan Byrd.

This year’s crop of amateur champions has proven they’re worthy to walk the hallowed fairways of Augusta National.  There are no doubt going to be some very interesting conversations up in the Crow’s Nest at the Masters next week, as these steely competitors compare notes on amateur status, turning pro, and most of all, measuring themselves against the field in the first major of 2012.  The most compelling question is where their respective roads will lead beyond Augusta. Stay tuned.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

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10 interesting photos from Monday at the Fort Worth Invitational

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GolfWRX is on the ground at Marvin Leonard’s famed pet project, Colonial Country Club, peeking into players bags and taking in the action on the driving range.

In addition to a gallery of photos from Misery Hill, we have WITB looks at Chad Campbell, Sung Kang, and Si-Woo Kim’s golf bags.

While you’ll want to take a trip through the buffet line, we’ve made you a plate of some of the tastiest morsels.

Welcome to the silver side, Maverick McNealy.

Only appropriate for their to be Hogans at Colonial. J.J. Henry does the honors.

Colonial stalwart Keith Clearwater with an Acculock Ace putter in the bag.

Si-Woo Kim’s driver has an “under construction” aesthetic. Love it.

Abraham Ancer may have the only grafitti-inspired bag font on Tour.

Tidy stuff.

Sung Kang: Going dual drivers this week or testing Tensei Orange vs. Tensei White?

A.B.C. How about this new Odyssey putter cover?

Chad Campbell is still rocking the TaylorMade Burner TP 5-wood!

…and Adams Idea Black irons with a strip of lead tape. Swoon.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational below.

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

 

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational at Colonial

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club (par 70; 7,209 yards). The event has now been hosted here for 73 straight years.

Headlining the field this week are Jordan Spieth, who’s currently ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Jon Rahm (No. 4), Justin Rose (No. 5) and Rickie Fowler (No. 6). Joining them are notables Webb Simpson, who’s coming off his win at The 2018 Players, as well as Wesley Bryan, Jason Dufner, Bryson DeChambeau, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Pat Perez, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Jimmy Walker, and last week’s champion, Aaron Wise.

Last year, Kevin Kisner captured the second PGA Tour victory of his career after shooting a final-round, 4-under 66.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational below.

Monday’s Photos

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Aaron Wise and Miguel Angel Jimenez both win their first

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Forget the Vegas Golden Knights for a moment. Golf, friends, is what is on the rise. Play a knockout event in Europe, toss in a rollicking, fun, unpredictable course in Texas, and spice it up with the most interesting man in golf (nope, never gets old) and the third weekend of May was nifty. A simple Tour Walkdown wouldn’t be nearly enough; we need a full-on, high-speed Rundown. Lace up your kicks and Zoom.

Aaron Wise collects first PGA Tour Win at Byron Nelson

People will say that the hardest thing to do is hold a lead. Marc Leishman opened with a saucy 61, and he nearly kept the reigns all week. In the end, Aaron Wise was too much duck for Leish, and finished on -23 to capture his first PGA Tour title, by three shots. Wise made 4 bogeys on the week, and 3 of them came on Saturday. His third-round 68 still made up ground on the Aussie leader, who closed 69-68 on the weekend. Wise was not flawless from tee to green on Sunday, but he avoided the hiccoughs that found him on Saturday. His scramble game was strong, and bogey stayed away. As for Leishman, after a bogey at the short 2nd, he drove the green at 4 and converted the bendy eagle putt. Two more birdies on the outward nine kept him close to Wise. On the inward half, which Wise played 1-under, Leishman had a shot. Two bogeys staved off his challenge, and Wise was a winner. Brandon Grace had a lightning round of his own on day 4, closing with 62 for a third-place tie with JJ Spaun and Keith Mitchell.

Aaron Wise Winning WITB

Adrian Otaegui knocks field out in Belgium

According to some Twitter post, Adrian Otaegui is undefeated in European Tour match play competition. Twelve consecutive wins. Future Ryder Cup captains, are we aware? Something about those Spaniards, those Basques, and their ability to get things done in head-to-head competition. Otaegui survived two tough matches in the rounds of 32 (w/Max Kiefer) and 16 (w/Matthew Southgate) where he squeaked by with a 1-stroke margin of victory. From that point on, it was clear sailing for the Iberian. Along the way, he defeated countryman Jorge Campillo in the quarters, Scotland’s David Drysdale in the semis, and France’s Benjamin Hebert in the final match. The beat-a-countryman, beat-a-Brit was common with Hebert as well. He knocked off Mike Lorenzo-Vera in the quarters, followed by James Heath in the semis, to arrange his final dance with Otaegui.

Jutanugarn is LPGA Queen once more in Virginia

While Sunday’s attention was divided between Brooke Henderson’s charge and the leading trio’s fight for supremacy, Ariya Jutanugarn had been in this position too many times to care. The long-hitting Thai golfer might have put things away with a birdie at the 16th; instead, she bogeyed and fell into a playoff with In Gee Chun of Korea and Nasa Hataoka of Japan. On the first extra green, Japan and Thailand made birdie, bidding farewell to Korea. On the 2nd playoff hole, Jutanugarn again made birdie to clinch the 8th LPGA title of her young career. As for Henderson, one wouldn’t think that a first-round 70 would put you that deep in the hole, but it did. Despite 65-65 on the weekend, Henderson was 1 agonizing putt or chip or whatever on the outside, looking in.

Michael Arnaud (after a magical nine holes) wins the Web Week in South Carolina

Arnaud posted 188 strokes to the board over his final 54 holes. Heck, do that and you can shoot your weight and still win. Arnaud’s found-magnificence was beyond impressive. His second-round 60 included a front-nine 27 that began with five birdies and two eagles…CONSECUTIVELY from holes 1 to 7. Dude was on track to shoot 26 or some nonsense until he bogeyed the 9th. Birdie there would have given him 25 for the outward half. Pity KH Lee and Robbie Shelton, who would have had a heck of a playoff on any other Sunday. The pair finished at -22, five strokes behind Arnaud. Question is, will Arnaud continue to excel, or will he remember one May weekend as the time he caught lightning in a bottle? In either case, the magic was his for a time.

Jimenez FINALLY grabs a senior major at Tradition

I would have bet MI CASA that MAJ had won a senior major title before his triumph at Greystone in Birmingham. It’s a big month for the steel city, as the USGA Women’s Open will be at Shoal Creek at the end of May. Back to the most interesting man. Jimenez built a comfortable lead (4 strokes) after 3 rounds. He opened with a magnificent 64, and no one could match it (and truly close the gap) until Jeff Maggert on Sunday. It was Jimenez’ tournament, as he displayed a remarkable command of all weapons. He did not make multiple bogeys until Sunday, at which point he had assumed complete control. As for the chasers, Joe Durant, Gene Sauers and Steve Stricker were able to claim a share of the runner-up podium spot, finishing at -16, 3 back of the victor. As with the remainder of the field, none could match Jimenez’ slew of birdies, which more than offset his slight number of bogeys.

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