It’s a changing of the guard with new wave of amateurs at Masters

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 7:25 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - As one chapter closes, a new era begins.

It’s an exciting year for the amateurs at the Masters.

A lot of patrons say they’re pretty excited to see some of these young guys.

No amateur has finished in the Top 10 since 1962.

And none have even made the cut here in the last two tournaments.

One group of players is experiencing this course for the first time.

Harrison Crowe: “The nerves are there. The excitement is kind of overruling it a little bit.”

Sam Bennett: “My first drive down Magnolia Lane was pretty surreal.”

Another group is experiencing it for the last.

People like Larry Mize, who said: “It’s such a special and unbelievable week. It never gets old.”

And Sandy Lyle, who said: “When it comes to that kind of emotional thing, we’ve all got feelings.”

But as the book closes for a pair of champions, a new one opens.

Seven hungry amateurs are looking to create their own legacies.

“The first tee, I was a little nervous, but after that I settled down a little bit and kind of embraced there’s going to be people out here all week, and it’s just something I’ll have to get used to,” said one opf those amateurs, Ben Carr from Columbus, Ga.

A few of the amateurs have paired up with Mize and Lyle this year, picking up tips along the way.

Because it always helps to have a green jacket winner in your corner.

“I told him don’t let me pester you. I’m here if you want. I offered him some advice, told him some things, little subtleties out there that you do pick up, but it’s nice to have someone show them to you,” Mize said.

From first operating the leaderboard as a teenager here to being the only Augusta native to top the leaderboard Sunday, Larry Mize will forever be tied to Augusta.

How they fared in first round

U.S. Amateur champion Sam Bennett was the only amateur to break par Thursday, shooting a bogey-free round of 68 to match playing partner and defending Masters champion Scottie Scheffler.

Bennett was just two strokes off Ken Venturi’s record for low round by an amateur, set in 1956. Venturi would take the lead into Sunday, when he shot 80 and finished one shot behind Jack Burke Jr.

Bennett, a two-time All-American at Texas A&M, made a long birdie putt at the first hole. He added a chip-in for eagle at the second, then another long birdie putt at the sixth. He made par the rest of the way to the clubhouse.

RE | It’s a changing of the guard with new wave of amateurs at Masters]Edit info“It was kind of gloomy all day,” Bennett said, “and then on 17, it was probably the prettiest view looking up that fairway, and 18 as well through the chute. The sun was shining. So I just wanted to make two more good swings, which I did.”

Harrison Crowe and Ben Carr, who lost to Bennett at the U.S. Amateur, opened with 75. Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira shot 76 and fellow amateurs Matthew McClean, Aldrich Potgieter and Gordon Sargent had rounds of 5 over.

“Kicked my butt out there,” said Sargent, the NCAA champion from Vanderbilt. “But I talked to my caddie at every single hole. We’re at Augusta at the Masters, how can you complain?”