Johnny Goodman

18th December 2018 

Johnny Goodman was the last amateur to win a major Championship, securing the 1933 U.S. Open. A relative unknown nowadays he holds a record which is unlikely to ever be broken.

He was the underdog who came good but never got the recognition or financial rewards he deserved.

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Johnny Goodman (Photo: omaha.com)

John George Goodman was born on 28th December 1909 in South Omaha, Nebraska, the fifth child of Lithuanian immigrants, William and Rose Goodman. His father worked in the local slaughterhouses and faced with horrific working conditions and poverty drifted into alcoholism. Shortly after his wife died in late 1924 giving birth to their 13th child (who also died) William chose to desert his family and the home he owned.

Abandoned at 15 and ultimately left to fend for himself it’s fair to say Johnny’s prospects appeared poor. The game of golf and the generosity of friends proved to be his saviour.

By accident Johnny had become a caddie at the nearby Omaha Field Club a few years earlier when he was 11. Playing on the railway which criss-crossed the golf course he had found a stray golf ball. Whilst selling it to a passing player he had learnt that more money was available for carrying bags at the Club. Within days he was earning on the weekends and given his natural intelligence and hard work soon became the best caddie at the Club. In 1922, reflecting this status, he was handed the bag of Walter Hagen by the caddie-master when the reigning Open champion arrived in Omaha on an exhibition tour with Australian Joe Kirkwood.

After briefly sleeping rough his friend Matt Zadalis persuaded his family to take him in and the skills he had developed as a caddie in dealing with adults quickly made him a respectful and welcome house guest. Whilst he continued to take his studies seriously his attendance at school became more sporadic. The need to earn, to feed and clothe himself, took priority and over the next few years he secured jobs as a Western Union messenger, a printing factory assistant and even occasionally as a cleaner in the slaughterhouses. To his credit he later did night classes to catch up and completed his high school diploma on time in June 1927.

He had continued to caddie in the spring and summer months and having cobbled together a set of clubs began discretely practising on the Omaha Field course. It wasn’t long before he became proficient and at 15, having won the 1925 Metropolitan Golf Tournament, could rightly call himself one of the best golfers in Omaha.

Like most sports fans at the time Bobby Jones was his hero and understandably given the era Johnny was taken with the amateur ideal. Given his hand to mouth existence at home he had no aspirations to turn professional and to be treated as a second class citizen at the golf course like most professionals still were. He was happy to continue travelling to events in the cheaper boxcars used to transport livestock and mail on the trains if it meant he could continue to have the sanctuary of golf clubhouses.

He developed a sound posture and a repeatable swing where he hit the ball late, more on the upswing than driving the club into the ground at impact. What started off as a draw became a power fade as he practiced more and sought greater consistency. As a small and slender man of 5ft 8” he never hit the ball far but the closer he got to the hole the deadlier he became; there were few who could pitch and putt better.

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Johnny Goodman (Photo: Lester Jones Collection)

The next step up the golfing ladder should have been the Nebraska Amateur Championship but ambitiously in June 1926 Johnny went for the regional Trans-Mississippi Championship in St. Louis. Playing in his first major competition Goodman showed his potential, first breaking Hagen’s course record in qualifying before falling to the more experienced Johnny Dawson 2&1 in the semi-finals. Despite the loss his performance made headline news back in Omaha. As he said himself: “One day I woke up and I was famous”.

Whilst his appearance, at least in his early playing years, often left a little to be desired he now realised he needed to look the part every day even if his finances made that hard to achieve. More importantly he now also understood that controlling his emotions on the course would help his scoring. Observers noticed how mentally strong he was and how he played with a competitive focus few others could match.

Goodman won the Trans-Mississippi Championship the following year at Broadmoor C.C. in Colorado Springs beating James Ward 2&1 in the Final. He would go on to become a 3-time Trans-Mississippi champion; wins in 1931 and 1935 bookending a loss in the 1934 final.

Goodman won the Nebraska Amateur Championship in 1929 and went on to retain it in 1930 and 1931. However, his sights were increasingly set at a national rather than state level. He didn’t have to wait long to make his mark.

At the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links, in one of the great upsets in the history of the game, he beat medalist Bobby Jones 2&1 in Round 1 of the match play stage. Disappointingly but perhaps not surprisingly he lost in Round 2 by the same scoreline in the afternoon to a 19 year old Lawson Little, who was just setting out on his own path to greatness.

The event started ominously for Goodman. Upon arrival in California he had been summoned to a USGA meeting to explain a new Spalding sporting goods store assistant’s role he had recently started amid concerns about his amateur status. His $8 per week salary appeared to be nothing to him when compared with some of the employment and writing arrangements other leading amateurs, like Jones and Chick Evans, were benefiting from. At the time the USGA appeared happy to show a little more flexibility to the more affluent gentleman players who met their concept of the perfect amateur. Unfortunately “Boxcar Johnny” fell very much at the other end of the spectrum; just the kind of player who they could make an example of and who they felt should be earning a living as a pro. Thankfully he was able to dissuade the Committee of any major impropriety and take up his place in the field. Although relations weren’t subsequently helped when he removed the star player from the field and attendances (and takings) over the final days were decimated. The USGA introduced a seeded match play draw the following year which perhaps played a part in helping Jones complete his 1930 grand slam.

Johnny’s trip to the Monterey Peninsula ended well. The victory over Bobby Jones caught the attention of a watching Bing Crosby who invited Johnny to play a $100 per hole 9 hole cash game at Pebble Beach the day after the Final. Goodman won $500 off the entertainer and with the Wall Street Crash and the onset of the Great Depression just days away the timing couldn’t have been better.

After a disappointing Round 1 defeat in the 1930 U.S. Amateur Goodman was struggling to balance the competing priorities in his life. “Amateur golf is a rich man’s game, and I am far from rich. I am forced to make a living, and find it impossible to combine competitive golf with business.” However, he had no where to go. He was a man of the amateur era, one who believed the U.S. Amateur to be the greatest Championship in the world and who harboured strong Walker Cup hopes. Professional golf was no real solution at the time as the tour was still embryonic and only a handful were making a living on it. Whilst the retirement of Bobby Jones and the continuing Depression saw amateurism lose some of its attractiveness, save for the very wealthiest in society, Johnny chose steadfastly to continue along this path. However, with his fiancé Josephine Kersigo and her family to consider he did decide to take a job selling insurance in early 1931, offered to him by Pete Lyck, a friend from the Omaha Field Club.

Goodman looked odds on for a place in the 1932 USA Walker Cup team after he qualified and then finished 14th and the leading amateur in that year’s U.S. Open. However, revealing the snobbery of the time, some regional prejudice and perhaps an implied accusation of professionalism, the USGA overlooked Johnny, neither naming him to their 10 man team or as an alternate. Many of those selected for the match at Brookline were either past their best or clearly did not have the recent playing record of the man from Omaha. The accompanying outcry from the nation’s golf correspondents finally led to the USGA making a statement. The Selection Committee, despite making their public announcement three days after the U.S. Open had finished, explained that their decision had actually been made before the Championship. Showing maturity beyond his years Johnny largely kept his own counsel and vowed to do his talking on the course. As the USA team comfortably beat GB&I 8-1 in Boston the selection soon became a moot point anyway.

The disappointment fuelled a run at the 1932 U.S. Amateur which started at Baltimore C.C. just ten days after the Walker Cup match finished. Gaining some redemption for his snub Goodman beat Francis Ouimet in the semi-final and was the last U.S. player left standing. However, despite being 2Up with 9 holes to play in the Final, he sadly failed to deliver the ultimate coup de grâce he had hoped for, losing 2&1 to Canadian Ross Somerville in their 36 hole match.

The 1933 U.S. Open took place at North Shore C.C. at Glenville, Illinois, a long, tight course made tougher by the baked fairways from a hot early summer. Rounds of 75, 66 – the joint lowest in Championship history at the time – and 70 gave Goodman a 6-shot lead heading into the final round. After a good start to Rd 4 his game deserted him on the final four holes of the front nine which he played in +4. Nevertheless to his credit he collected himself; playing the back nine in +1 he recorded a final round of 76. Thankful for a bogey 5 by his nearest challenger Ralph Guldahl on the 72nd hole Goodman ended up winning the Championship by 1-shot. Showing their continued disdain for the social standing of Johnny the USGA refused to formally present the famous trophy to their new 23 year old champion. Unusually there are no photos of USGA President Herbert H. Ramsey or any other official presenting the trophy to Goodman – reports said he simply lifted it off a presentation table himself.

Johnny Goodman – 1933 U.S. Open Pathe News

This win in June 1933 saw Johnny Goodman became the last member of a select group which already included Jerry Travers, Francis Ouimet, Chick Evans and Bobby Jones – amateurs to beat the pros and win the U.S. Open Championship. 85 years later he remains the last amateur to win a major Championship.

In the light of his U.S. Open win Goodman refused to turn Pro. He continued with his insurance job turning down numerous touring, publishing and sponsorship opportunities that came his way. “Golf is a game for me, not a business” he said.

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Johnny Goodman With the U.S. Open Championship Trophy (Photo: USGA Museum)

The Masters was first played in late March 1934. Despite being the reigning U.S. Amateur champion it appears Johnny Goodman was not invited to compete by Bobby Jones, although he may simply have not been able to afford the time or cost of the trip. Ironically it was Goodman’s defeat of Jones at Pebble Beach in 1929 that created the time for him to visit the newly opened Cypress Point G.C. So taken with the course was Jones that he immediately decided that its designer Dr. Alistair MacKenzie would be handed control of any new course that he may build in the future. That course proved to be Augusta National. Despite clearly being one of America’s leading players in the 1930’s Goodman ended up playing in just one Masters. In 1936 he shot rounds of 80, 81 and 79 to finish 43rd. Perhaps Goodman didn’t take to the course and chose not to play in the event again.

Johnny finally made his Walker Cup debut aged 24 at St. Andrews in May 1934. Captain Francis Ouimet played him No. 1 for the U.S. team and he didn’t disappoint, taking to links golf quickly. Paired with fellow rookie Lawson Little in the Day 1 Foursomes they beat a fading Cyril Tolley and Roger Wethered 8&6, Wethered in particular struggling throughout the 36 hole match. On Day 2 Goodman beat the British Captain and reigning Amateur champion, a 55 year old Hon. Michael Scott 7&6. The USA won the match 9.5-2.5 with golf writer Bernard Darwin describing Goodman’s play as “appallingly good.”

The following week Goodman crossed Scotland to play at Prestwick G.C. in the Amateur Championship. A straight knockout in those days the Omaha man reached the Quarter Finals where he succumbed to young Englishman Leslie Garnett 3&1. Johnny’s Foursomes partner Lawson Little went on to beat James Wallace by a record breaking 14&13 score. Little recorded twelve 3’s on the 23 holes played in the Final.

At the 1936 Walker Cup, played at Pine Valley G.C., Goodman was one of four returning USA players and again played at No. 1. Paired with Albert “Scotty” Campbell he won his Foursomes 7&5 against Hector Thomson and Harry Bentley. On Day 2 he again beat Thomson this time 3&2 in the Singles, maintaining his 100% win record and leading the USA to a famous 9-0 victory. There were no points awarded for halved matches in those days so it was not quite the whitewash it appeared.

The 1937 U.S. Amateur was played at Alderwood C.C. in Portland, Oregon. It would prove to be Johnny Goodman’s crowning glory. In his 1Up semi-final win against Bud Ward he one putted 15 greens. ‘Cinderella Man’ Ray Billows, known for his relaxed temperament (as well as finishing second), waited for him in the Final. Johnny stumbled down the home straight again but finished strongly to ultimately win by 2 holes. Finally accepted by the USGA, President John G. Jackson happily made the trophy presentation to a man who had now achieved the American double.

Just 11 players have won the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open – Francis Ouimet (1914 / 1913 respectively), Jerome Travers (1907 / 1915), Chick Evans (1916 / 1916), Bobby Jones (1924 / 1923), Johnny Goodman (1937 / 1933), Lawson Little (1934 / 1940), Arnold Palmer (1954 / 1960), Gene Littler (1953 / 1961), Jack Nicklaus (1959 / 1962), Jerry Pate (1974 / 1976) and Tiger Woods (1994 / 2000). Goodman is the last player to win the U.S. Amateur after the U.S. Open.

The 10th Walker Cup match, played on 3-4 June 1938 at St. Andrews, again featured Johnny Goodman, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. The U.S. team first travelled to Troon to play in the Amateur. An ‘unlucky’ draw saw Goodman beat Ray Billows 4&2 in Round 2 before falling 3&2 to Charles Kocsis in Round 4, both U.S. teammates. Unfortunately any form he had deserted him in his Walker Cup matches as he lost on both days as GB&I won for the first time 7-4. Hector Thomson got revenge for his 1939 defeat comfortably winning their repeat Singles 6&4. With World War II interrupting proceedings the next match would not be played until 1947 and hence this proved to be Johnny’s last involvement.

Back home Johnny Goodman remained well known and respected. He featured on the cover of the popular Time Weekly Newsmagazine on 6 June 1938 under the heading ‘The King of Swings’ and in a story about him being the natural successor to Bobby Jones. To my knowledge Jones, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the only other golfers to grace the cover of this famous U.S. magazine.

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Johnny Goodman – Time Magazine, 6th June 1938

Shortly afterwards Johnny married Josephine in Omaha, Lawson Little acting as his best man, and with little money moved in with his mother in law.

However, on the golfing front his play started to drift and he was never to contend in a big event again.

The Pearl Harbour attack just a few days before Johnny’s 32nd birthday in December 1941, which led to the United States’ entering World War II, changed more than just the golfing landscape. Goodman found himself called up to serve in the Quartermaster Corps and ended up being posted to India.

Once the War was over Johnny settled back into family life. He left the insurance world and started working for his brother in law John Atkins who had become a successful beer distributor and club owner in Omaha. 1947 proved to be a pivotal year in his life. Firstly he and Josephine had a son, Johnny Goodman Jr. and then he was involved in a serious car crash, badly breaking his right arm. Any hope of resurrecting his top level golf career was lost in the crash.

The Goodman’s eventually decided a change of scene was needed and in 1950 the family moved to South Gate in Southern California. He used his knowledge and trade connections to obtain a sales job for Canada Dry.

Unfortunately a restructuring led to Johnny losing this job eventually and he started to drink more than he should. In 1959 he became ill and very nearly died from complications brought about by cirrhosis of the liver.

He survived and having adopted a healthier lifestyle started to play more golf. He enjoyed playing with Johnny Jr. and shortly afterwards turned Pro to take up a teaching position at the Bellflower Golf Center in California.

On the 8th August 1970 Johnny Goodman died in his sleep aged 60. Just a few days earlier he had travelled back to Omaha Field and played a round at his old club with his nephew Jack Atkins. It was his goodbye to the game he loved. He was buried in Omaha in a nondescript grave without headstone. More recently a municipal golf course in the southwest of the City has been named in his honour.

Johnny Goodman earned next to nothing for his golfing exploits and faced discrimination throughout most of his career. However, his story is one of the more interesting ones and his U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open wins mean he has his place in the record books forever and should perhaps be better remembered by the golfing world.

ME.

Copyright © 2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Amateurs At The Masters – Facts & Figures

Updated – 9th April 2018

Here is a selection of Amateur Facts & Figures that I have collected for The Masters Tournament: –

2018 Amateur Players

Since 2016 just six Amateurs have been able to qualify for The Masters. In 2018 the six were: –

The Winner and Runner-Up of the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship – Doc REDMAN (USA) and Doug GHIM (USA). 

The Winner of the 2017 Amateur Championship – Harry ELLIS (England).

The U.S. and Amateur champions also receive non-playing honorary invitations which mean they are invited to attend The Masters every year for the rest of their lives.

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(l-r) Harry Ellis, Yuxin Lin, Joaquin Niemann, Doug Ghim, Doc Redman and Matt Parziale (Photo: The Masters)

The Winner of the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship (Over 25s) – Matt PARZIALE (USA). This exemption has been in place since 1989.

The Winner of the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (APAC) – Yuxin LIN (China). The Masters co-founded this event in 2009.

The Winner of the 2018 Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC) – Joaquin NIEMANN (Chile). The Masters co-founded this event in 2015.

Up until 2015, when the U.S.G.A. discontinued the Championship, the winner of the U.S. Public Links was also invited. Byron METH (USA) was the last recipient of such an invite in 2015.

2018 Amateur Results

Doug GHIM (USA) was ranked No. 1 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking before the Tournament began and comfortably lived up to his billing when play got underway.

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Doug Ghim’s Scorecard (Photo: The Masters)

As the only amateur to make the cut Doug secured the Silver Cup on Friday night. He collected it from new Augusta National G.C. Chairman Fred Ridley at the prize going ceremony on Sunday evening.

In addition to the Silver Cup Doug will receive three pairs of highball glasses for his eagles in Round 1 and 3.

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Doug Ghim Receives The Silver Cup From Fred Ridley (Photo: The Masters)

Disappointingly Amateur champion Harry  ELLIS (ENG), the sole GB&I amateur entrant, shot rounds of 86 and 80 (+22) and missed the cut in last place (87th).

Amateur Playing Records

No amateur has ever won The Masters.

On three occasions an amateur has fInished 2nd: –
Frank STRANAHAN (USA) – 1947. A final round 68 saw Stranahan come through the field ultimately finishing 2-shots behind champion Jimmy Demeret.
Ken VENTURI (USA) – 1956. A final round 80 in windy conditions saw Venturi lose a 4-shot lead and finish second by 1-shot to Jack Burke.
Charlie COE (USA) – 1961. Like Stranahan Coe finished fast with a 69 and a record amateur score of -7. He ended up tied for second with Arnold Palmer with neither able to catch a faltering Gary Player (74 / -8 total).

Billy Joe PATTON (USA) finished 3rd in 1954 but perhaps came closest to delivering an amateur Masters victory. A hole-in-one on the 6th in the final round put him nicely in the lead but a bogey on 12 and a double on 13, when he went for the green in two and found water, saw him slip out of a play-off with Sam Snead and Ben Hogan by 1-shot. 

In 1961, for the only time, three amateurs finished in the Top 15 – Charlie COE (USA, T2), Jack NICKLAUS (USA, T7) and Robert W. GARDNER (USA, T11).

In 1954 five Amateurs finished in the Top 20Billy Joe PATTON (USA, 3rd), Richard CHAPMAN (USA,11th), Ken VENTURI (USA, T16) and Charlie COE and E. Harvie WARD (both USA, T20)

The last Top 10 finish by an amateur was Charlie COE’s T9 in 1962.

Charlie COE (USA) holds most of the Amateur records at Augusta, including Most Low Amateur Honours (6 in 1949-51-59-61-62-70), Best Finish (T2), Top 10s (3), Most Cuts Made (8), Most Starts (19), Most Rounds Played (67) and Rounds At Par or Better (22).

In more recent times the best amateur finish has been Tied 13thCasey WITTENBERG (USA, 2004) and Ryan MOORE (USA, 2005) both achieving this result. Before that Matt KUCHER (USA) smiled his way to tied 21st in 1998 and last year Bryson DECHAMBEAU (USA) achieved the same finish on +5.

The reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion was first invited to compete at The Masters in 1989. In 2017 Stewart HAGESTAD (USA) became the first recipient of this invite to make the cut. His opening rounds of 74 and 73 (+3) saw him comfortably qualify for the weekend in tied 19th position. Hagestad went on to secure low amateur honours finishing tied 36th on +6. Other mid-amateurs (over 25) had previously made the cut at The Masters – Jim HOLTGRIEVE and Jay SIGEL in 1982 and 1988 respectively – but neither were playing at that time on the official Mid-Amateur champion’s exemption.

Many former Amateur competitors have gone on to win The Masters as pros; these include Jack Nicklaus (6), Tom Watson (2), Tiger Woods (4), Jose Maria Olazabal (2), Phil Mickelson (3), Ben Crenshaw (2), and Mark O’Meara, Craig Stadler, Tommy Aaron, Charles Coody, and Trevor Immelman with one each.

Six low amateur Silver Cup winners have completed a memorable double by going on to win The Masters. These are Cary MIDDLECOFFJack NICKLAUS, Ben CRENSHAW, Tiger WOODS, Phil MICKELSON and Sergio GARCIA.

The 2018 Masters Journal (Photos: GolfBible)

Hole-In-One’s By Amateurs

Amateur Ross SOMERVILLE (USA) recorded the first hole-in-one at the Masters.

The full list is:-
1934 – Ross SOMERVILLE (USA), 16th hole, 145 yards with a mashie niblick
1940 – Ray BILLOWS (USA), 16th hole, 145 yards with an 8-iron
1949 – John DAWSON (USA), 16th hole, 190 yards with a 4-iron
1954 – Billy Joe PATTON (USA), sixth hole, 190 yards with a 5-iron
1959 – William HYNDMAN (USA), 12th hole, 155 yards with a 5-iron

Amateur Scoring Records

Low 18 Holes score – 66 Ken VENTURI (1956, 32-34)

Low 36 Holes score – 135 Ken VENTURI (1956, 66-69)

Low 54 Holes – 210 Ken VENTURI (1956, 66-69-75)

Low 72 Holes score – 281 Charles COE (1961, 72-71-69-69)

The Highest Round-by-Round scores are here:-
High Rd 1 score – 90 Chick EVANS (1960)
High Rd 2 score – 89 Chick EVANS (1960)
High Rd 3 score – 88 James FRISINA (1952)
High Rd 4 score – 95 Charles KUNKLE JR (1956)

Charles KUNKLE JR’s 95 is the highest official 18-hole score ever recorded at The Masters.

Low First Nine – 32
Marvin WARD (1940 Rd 2), Billy Joe PATTON (1954 Rds 1 &4), Ken VENTURI (1956 Rd 1), Ben CRENSHAW (1973 Rd 2), Matt KUCHAR (1998 Rd 3), James DRISCOLL (2001 Rd 1).

Low Second Nine – 31
Casey WITTENBERG (2004 Rd 1), Romain LANGASQUE (2016 Rd 4).

Great British & Irish Amateurs

Sir Michael BONALLACK (England) was the first GB&I amateur to compete in The Masters in 1965. Some amateurs were invited before this but the tournament wasn’t what it is today and therefore they declined, finding it hard to justify the expense.

Joe CARR (Ireland) was the first GB&I Amateur to make the cut at The Masters. Rounds of 75, 73, 80 and 78 saw him finish 52nd in 1967. There was no cut until 1957.

Peter MCEVOY (England) is the last GB&I Amateur to make the cut at The Masters. Rounds of 73, 75, 77 and 77 helped him to a 53rd place finish in 1977.

Michael HOEY (Northern Ireland) and Matthew FITZPATRICK (England) have come closest to equalling McEvoy’s record. Both missed the cut by 1-shot, respectively in 2001 (75, 73) and 2013 (76, 73).

The lowest round shot by a GB&I Amateur at The Masters is an even par 72 – Gary WOLSTENHOLME (England, Rd 1 1992) and Warren BLADON (England, Rd 2 1997).

In the modern qualification era only two GB&I players have played in the same Masters. This was in 2013 when Garrick PORTEOUS (England) and Matt FITZPATRICK (England) competed, as the reigning British and U.S. Amateur champions respectively. Previously Sir Michael BONALLACK and Joe CARR were both invited to play in the 1968 Masters.

Non-USA Low Amateur Honours

The Masters has been played 81 times between 1934 and 2017, a few years being missed due to World War II. In all but 12 of these an Amateur has completed all four rounds. However, making the cut as an amateur is getting harder – 5 times over the last 12 years no amateur has made the cut.

The Low Amateur prize has been won by a Non-American only 6 times.

Manny ZERMAN (South Africa), who finished 59th on +6 was the first to achieve this feat in 1992.

Sergio GARCIA (Spain) and Matteo MANASSERO (Italy) are the only European amateurs to make the cut in recent years, both winning the Silver Cup in the process. Garcia finished T38 (72, 75, 75, 73) in 1998 and Manassero T36 (71, 76, 73, 72) in 2009.

The other three overseas Low Amateur winners were: –
2011 – Hideki MATSUYAMA (Japan) -1 27th
2013 – Gian TIANLANG (China) +12 58th
2014 – Oliver GOSS (Australia) +10 49th

Romain LANGASQUE (France) made the cut in 2016 and in Rd. 4 shot 68, setting a new low score record for European amateurs. However, Romain (+10) was beaten to the Silver Cup by Bryson DECHAMBEAU (USA) +5.

Prior to this Matteo MANASSERO had been the only European amateur to break par in The Masters. He had a 71 in Rd 1 in 2009.

Youngest & Oldest

Tianlang GUAN (China) became the youngest player to participate in The Masters in 2013 – he was 14 years, 5 months and 17 days old. Guan went on to surprise the world by making the cut with opening rounds of 73 and 75 and by Sunday earning Low Amateur honours. Throughout the event he recorded no double-bogeys and had no three-putts.

Round 4 of the 2013 Masters

Tianlang Guan (Photo: Getty Images)

With regard to all Majors Young Tom MORRIS is the youngest ever champion – he was 14 years, 4 months and 25 days old when he played in the 1865 Open Championship.

Matteo MANASSERO (Italy) was the previous youngest Masters player when he competed in 2010 aged 16 years, 11 months and 23 days old.

Paul CHAPLET (Costa Rica), the Latin America Amateur champion and aged just 16, become the second youngest competitor in 2016.

The oldest amateur to play in the Masters was Chick EVANS (USA) who was 62 when he teed it up in 1953.

Prizes and Awards

The Low Amateur began receiving the Silver Cup in 1952. The Low Amateur also attends both the television and patron prize presentations.

Frank Stranahan’s 1953 Silver Cup (Photo: Green Jacket Auctions)

A Silver Medal has been presented to the amateur runner-up since 1954.

The Silver Cup and Medal prizes are only awarded if players make the cut and complete all four rounds.

In 1956 Amateur Ken VENTURI (USA) set the record for the Most Awards in a Single Masters – 7. He took home a silver medal for finishing second, the silver cup and a gold medal for being the Low Amateur, two crystal vases for leading after the first and second rounds, and two pairs of highball glasses for his eagle on the 13th in Round 1 and at the 8th in Round 2.

Par 3 Contest

The Masters Par 3 Contest has been won by an Amateur twice; in 1961 by Deane BEMAN and in 1964 by Labron HARRIS JR.

Amateurs have won the Crystal Pitcher prizes, awarded for the nearest the pin on each hole, on many of the Par 3 Contest holes.

In 2016 16 year old Amateur Paul CHAPLET (Costa Rica) finished tied 4th in the Par 3 Contest.

Amateur Appearances

Including the 2018 Masters 426 different amateurs will have competed in the Tournament during it’s history.

11 amateurs competed in the first Masters, in 1934, along with 50 professionals.

The Most Amateurs in Field record was set in 1966 when 26 competed.

The Fewest Amateurs in Field record was set in 1942 when just 2 competed.

Bobby JONES (USA), the amateur co-founder of the Masters played in the first 12 tournaments between 1934-48. His best finish was 13th in 1934.

Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen 1934

The Amateur Experience

Amateurs are given courtesy of the Club and course as soon as they have qualified for the Masters. Many visit and play Augusta on numerous occasions before Tournament week.

Dating right back to the start of The Masters in 1934 all of the amateur entrants have been invited, for a nominal fee, to stay in ‘The Crow’s Nest’. The Crow’s Nest is a communal accommodation that can sleep up to 5 set in the eaves of the Augusta National clubhouse. The Amateurs are the only competitors allowed to lodge on the grounds during Tournament week.

Crow's Nest

Since 1948 an Amateur Dinner has been held in the clubhouse to honour that year’s amateur contestants. Originally suggested by Charlie Yates this Dinner actually started four years before the now far better known Masters Club (‘Champions’) Dinner.

Bobby Jones attended his last Amateur Dinner in 1968 three years before he died.

Since 1994 the Amateur Dinner invitation list has been widened amongst the Club’s membership. Guest speakers, including Sir Michael Bonallack and Mark O’Meara, have addressed the select group of amateurs in attendance.

In 2001 the Amateur Dinner was moved from the Wednesday night of Masters week to the Monday night.

The Amateur dinner has become an interactive experience in recent years with a video of each player being shown before each of them is invited to introduce themselves to the invited guests.

From 1959 the Masters Competition Committee started to look after the amateurs in the actual draw, pairing them with former champions, star players and if possible fellow countrymen. Nowadays the U.S. Amateur champion always plays with the reigning Masters champion in the opening two rounds.

ME.

Copyright © 2016-18, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Amateurs In The 2016 Masters

10th April 2016

UPDATE

Bryson DECHAMBEAU lived up to his star billing and won the Silver Cup. Rounds of 72, 72, 77 and 72 saw him finish on +5 and a creditable Tied 22nd.

Bryson DeChambeau Masters 2016

Bryson DeChambeau Receives The Silver Cup (Photo: Jon-Michael Sullivan)

France’s Romain LANGASQUE shot the lowest ever round by a European Amateur in Rd 4 – his 68, followed rounds of 74, 73, and 83. He finished on +10 for Tied 42nd.  As the only other amateur to make the cut he won the Silver Medal.

Derek BARD (76, 77), Sammy SCHMITZ (81, 75), Cheng JIN (79, 78) and Paul CHAPLET (83, 82) all missed the cut.

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3rd April 2016

There will be six amateurs competing at this week’s Masters. The 2016 intake will take the total number of amateurs who have competed in the tournament to 415.

Masters 2016 Journal

The Masters Tournament – 2016 Journal

Listed below are all of the potential eligibility routes to The Masters for amateurs and the 2016 beneficiaries (where applicable): –

Current U.S. Amateur champion (honorary, non-competing after one year*)
Bryson DECHAMBEAU (United States) won the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields C.C. last August.

DeChambeau was just the fifth golfer in history to win the Individual title at the NCAA Division I Championship and follow it up with the U.S. Amateur Championship a few months later.

He has made a big noise in golf since becoming U.S. Amateur champion and it will be interesting to see how he goes at the Masters. He plans to turn pro at the RBC Heritage Classic at Hilton Head the week immediately after his Augusta experience.

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 1 / WAGR 3.

Bryson DeChambeau US Amateur 2015

Bryson DeChambeau (Photo: USGA)

Current U.S. Amateur runner-up
Derek BARD (United States) lost the U.S. Amateur final 7&6 to DeChambeau but gained the consolation of an invitation to The Masters.

Bard is a Junior at the University of Virginia. He has won once this season at the U.S. Collegiate in October and more recently has had two Top 5’s in March; at the Palmetto Invite (71-65-71, -3 5th) and the Linger Longer Invitational (68-71-71, -6 4th).

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 13 / WAGR 25.

Derek Bard

Derek Bard (Photo: USGA)

Current British Amateur champion (honorary, non-competing after one year*)
Romain LANGASQUE (France) won the 2015 Amateur Championship at Carnoustie last June.

The 20 year old Amateur champion seems to be going from strength to strength in recent weeks winning the Spanish Amateur, coming second at the Barclays Kenya Open on the European Challenge tour and then earlier this week defeating DeChambeau 4&3 in The Georgia Cup challenge match.

He also plans to turn pro straight after the Masters – few would doubt he is ready.

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 5 / WAGR 7.

Romain Langasque Amateur 2015 Photo 2

Romain Langasque (Photo: Getty Images)

Current Asia-Pacific Amateur champion (since 2014)
Cheng JIN (China) won the 2015 Asia-Pacific at the Clearwater Bay G.&C.C. in Hong Kong last October. A first round 62 (-8) set him up for a famous victory.

Jin was 18 on 6th March but has been making a name for himself for a few years now. He won a PGA Tour China pro tournament in 2014 and has impressed when given invitations to play in both Asia and European Tour events in recent months.

He will become the second Chinese player to compete in The Masters and no one would be surprised to see him making the cut like Tianlang Guan did back in 2013.

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 16 / WAGR19.

Cheng Jin Asia-Pacific 2015

Cheng Jin (Photo: APAC)

Past Asia-Pacific champions invited to the following year’s Master’s include: –
2009 Chang-Won Han (Korea)
2010 Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)
2011 Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)
2012 Tianlang Guan (China)
2013 Chang-Woo Lee (Korea)
2014 Antonio Murdaca (Australia)

Current Latin America Amateur champion (since 2015)
Paul CHAPLET (Costa Rica) won the 2016 Latin America Amateur in January at the Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominicon Republic.

Despite winning the Costa Rican National Junior Championship in both 2014 and 2015 16 year old Chaplet was something of a surprise winner of the 2016 Latin American Amateur.  The second youngest player in the field he was ranked 834th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking at the start of play in January.

He will easily be the youngest player at this year’s Masters.

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 380 / WAGR 441.

img_5639

Paul Chaplet (Photo: LAAC)

Matias Dominguez (Chile) won the inaugural Latin America Amateur at Pilar G.C. in Argentina, thus gaining entry to the 2015 Masters.

Current U.S. Mid-Amateur champion
Sammy SCHMITZ (United States) won the U.S. Mid-Amateur (over 25’s) at John’s Ireland Club in Florida last October. A hole-in-one on a par 4 normally gets the job done. It certainly did for Schmitz (35) on the final hole of last year’s championship.

Schmitz was a 3-time All-American at St. John’s University before moving to Florida to pursue his pro ambitions. It didnt work out so he regained his amateur status and now works in the healthcare industry back home in River Falls, Minnesota.

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 509 / WAGR 2,535.

Sammy Schmitz 2016 US Mid-Amateur

Sammy Schmitz (Photo: USGA)

The first 12 players, including ties, from the previous year’s Masters
Last year none of the 7 amateurs who competed made the cut so no one has taken advantage of a return trip.

The 2015 amateur scores were: –
Corey CONNERS (Canada)            80 69
Byron METH (United States)           74 76
Anthonio MURDACA (Australia)     78 73
Matias DOMINGUEZ (Chile)           76 76
Scott HARVEY (United States)        76 81
Bradley NEIL (Scotland)                 78 79
Gunn YANG (South Korea)             85 74

The first 4 players, including ties, from the previous year’s other Majors, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the U.S. P.G.A. Championship  

No amateurs were able to take advantage of this exemption criteria last year although at The Open Championship at St. Andrews they were queuing up to try.

The low amateur at the 2015 U.S. Open was Brian Campbell (United States) +5 T27.

The low amateur at the Open Championship was Jordan Niebrugge (United States) -11 T6. Oliver Schniederjans (United States) and Ashley Chesters (England) -9 T12 as well as Paul Dunne (Ireland) -6 T30 were also noteworthy.

No amateurs compete in the U.S. P.G.A. Championship.

Prior to this year the Current U.S. Public Links champion also earned a berth. The U.S.G.A. decided to discontinue the Championship in 2015 and as a result Byron Meth was the last player to gain an exemption via this route.

* Honorary, non-competing after one year invitations are awarded to the U.S. Amateur and British Amateur champions. In other words they are invited to play in the tournament the following year after their Amateur victory (so long as they remain amateurs) but then are also invited annually to attend the tournament as guests of the Club.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

The Georgia Cup – 2016 Preview & Results

29th March 2016

UPDATE – France’s Romain Langasque, the 2015 Amateur champion, beat Bryson DeChambeau, the 2015 U.S. Amateur champion 4 & 3 in today’s Georgia Cup match.

Georgia Cup 2016

Bryson DeChambeau and Romain Langasque (Photo: Marc Langasque)

27th March 2016

The Georgia Cup is an 18-hole match play competition played the week before The Masters between the reigning United States (US) and British Amateur champions.

Both Amateur champions are always in town in late March ahead of The Masters for which their respective wins gain them honorary invitations, albeit only one year competing.

Georgia Cup

The Georgia Cup (Photo: David Burke)

The match was established by The Golf Club of Georgia (GCOG) and was first contested in 1998. Craig Watson, the recently appointed Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup captain, was the British Amateur representative in that first match. He lost to Matt Kutcher, obviously now a well known PGA Tour pro, 3 & 1.

Located in Alpharetta the GCOG has two Alfred Hills-designed courses, the Lakeside (L) and the Creekside (C). Both have hosted the event in the past but since 2006 the Lakeside has taken precedence.

The 2016 Georgia Cup is being played at 1.00pm (6.00pm GMT) on Tuesday 29th March. It is a charitable event with funds being raised for the Georgia State Golf Association Foundation which primarily provides educational scholarships for children.

Gunn Yang GC3

Gunn Yang – 2015 Georgia Cup Winner (Photo: GCOG)

Following last year’s win for Gunn Yang (KOR) over Bradley Neil (SCO) the match is tied between the British and US champions 9 – 9. Yang’s win ended a run of three straight British wins. All of the previous results can be seen in the Appendix below.

This year’s match, the 19th, looks like being a little bit special, bringing together as it does Bryson DeChambeau (USA) and Romain Langasque (FRA).

Bryson DeChambeau achieved the rare double in 2015 of winning both the NCAA Division I Championship (Individual) and the US Amateur Championship. Ahead of turning pro, which he plans to do immediately after The Masters, he has been playing in various professional tournaments gaining experience on both the European and PGA Tours. It is my view that he is the No. 1 amateur golfer in the world at the current time. He has coped with huge expectation in 2016 and to his credit delivered many noteworthy performances with the ‘big boys’.  His T18 (-12) at the Dubai Desert Classic and last week’s T27 (-6) at the Arnold Palmer Invitational being the highlights of his year to date.

Bryson DeChambeau US Amateur 2015

Bryson DeChambeau – 2015 US Amateur champion (Photo: USGA)

In most years a player of DeChambeau’s calibre would be the strong favourite to lift the Georgia Cup. What makes this match so appetising is that his opponent is also one of the world’s very top amateurs and better still is also bang in form.

France’s Romain Langasque will also be turning pro after his Masters debut. He arrives in Georgia on the back of a string of great results – T2 at the European Nations Cup at Sotogrande, 1st at the Spanish Amateur (where he showed some great match play skills) and 2nd last week at The Barclays Kenya Open, the European Challenge Tour’s season opener.

Romain Langasque Amateur 2015 Photo 2

Romain Langasque – 2015 Amateur champion (Photo: Getty Images)

Whilst The Georgia Cup always presents an interesting match up I do have a feeling that this year’s contest may be on a different level to previous years. I for one can’t wait to see how the two of them get on and hope you will also take the time to follow the match on Tuesday.

Appendix

The previous results are shown below (with the Amateur titles won shown in brackets): –
1998 (L) – Matt Kuchar (US) def. Craig Watson (British) – 3 & 1
1999 (L) – Sergio Garcia (British) def. Hank Kuehne (US) – 5 & 4
2000 (L) – David Gossett (US) def. Graeme Storm (British) – 3 & 2
2001 (C) – Mikko Ilonen (British) def. Jeff Quinney (US) – 6 & 4
2002 (C) – Michael Hoey (British) def. Bubba Dickerson (US) – 4 & 2
2003 (L) – Ricky Barnes (US) def. Alejandro Larrazabal (British) – 4 & 2
2004 (C) – Gary Wolstenholme (British) def. Nick Flanagan (US) – 4 & 2
2005 (C) – Ryan Moore (US) def. Stuart Wilson (British) – 2 & 1
2006 (L) – Brian McElhinney (British) def. Edoardo Molinari (US) – 3 & 2
2007 (L) – Richie Ramsay (US) def. Julien Guerrier (British) – 2 & 1
2008 (L) – Colt Knost (US) def. Drew Weaver (British) – 2 & 1
2009 (L) – Danny Lee (US) def. Reinier Saxton (British) – 2&1
2010 (L) – Matteo Manassero (British) def. Byeong-hun An (US) – 5&4
2011 (L) – Peter Uihlein (US) def. Jin Jeong (British) – 4&2
2012 (L) – Brydon Macpherson (British) def. Kelly Kraft (US) – 2&1
2013 (L) – Alan Dunbar (British) def. Steven Fox (US) – 1Up
2014 (L) – Garrick Porteus (British) def. Matthew Fitzpatrick (US) – 3&2
2015 (L) – Gunn Yang (US) def. Bradley Neil (British) – 3&2

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Who Will Win The 2015 Masters ?

6th April 2015

UPDATE – Jordan Spieth won the 2015 US Masters with a record equalling -18 score (64, 66, 70, 70 = 270), beating Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose by 4-shots.

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As we all know predicting the winner of a golf tournament is far from easy. However, with The Masters our chances are better than normal – that’s because it is a Major, it is played on the same course every year and most importantly it has the smallest field of any of these four elite events.

Firstly, let’s get ourselves in the mood by putting Don Cherry’s ‘Augusta’ on repeat play.

 

In 2015 there are a few more players at Augusta National than normal, with a total of 99 qualifying for the famous early season Invitational.

The broad rules for determining the winner are well known – so here is my interpretation of them.  I like to deduce the winner by visually removing the Green Jacket from individual players one-by-one.

1. Amateurs and Special Invitees are there for historic reasons only.

Connors, Dominguez, Harvey, Meth, Murdaca, Neil, Yang (7)

2. Rookie’s don’t win – on average winner’s are playing at Augusta for the 7th time.

Compton, Hahn, Harman, M. Hoffmann, Koepka, Lahiri, Lowry, Noh, Streb, Todd, Tringale, Wiesberger, Willett (13)

3. Former Major / Past Champions that are clearly well past their best can be discounted.

Couples, Crenshaw, Langer, Lyle, Mize, O’Meara, Olazabel, Singh, T. Watson, Weir, Woosnam (11)

4. Over 40s can’t cope with the length and short-game demands now placed upon them. The average age of a winner is around 33.

Bjorn, Cabrera, Clarke, Els, Furyk, Harrington, Jaidee, Jimenez, Mickelson, Senden, Stricker, Westwood (12) 

5. ‘In The Hole’ and ‘Mashed Potato’ – those with limited or no experience of playing in the US normally struggle.

Donaldson, Dubuisson, Ilonen, Luiten (4)  

6. It is unlikely that a player will win the Masters without having competed well in a Major before. Ask yourself if they have a Top 10 finish in a Major on their record ?

Bae, Crane, Every, Gallacher, Grace, Haas, Henley, C. Hoffman, Holmes, Kirk, Martin, Moore, Palmer, Streelman, Villegas, Woodland (16) 

That was easy – questions 1-6 have eliminated 63 of the 99 entries.  Anyone who makes this ‘cut’ obviously has a chance to win but further tests can usefully be applied to reduce the field even further: –

7. ‘Horses for Courses’ – Augusta simply doesn’t suit some players.  What does their track record and TV interviews tell us ?

Bradley, Donald, Dufner, Kaymer, Matsuyama, McDowell, Reed, Simpson, Stenson (9) 

8. Did they play last year and if so how did they get on ?  Recent good memories must help.

Blixt, Casey, Clark, Immelmann, Z. Johnson, Leishman (WD), Na (7) 

9. Is their putting and chipping really up to it ?

Day, Ogilvy, Schwartzel, Scott, Woods (5)

10. ‘Bottle’ – have they shown the mental fortitude required to win a Major, let alone the historic Masters ?

Fowler, Garcia, Horschel, D. Johnson, Kucher, Mahan, Snedeker, Stadler (8) 

So for our potential winner the above analysis leaves just seven players –

McIlroy, Oosthuizen, Poulter, Rose, Spieth, Walker, B. Watson (7)

Take your pick from these seven who I believe should all achieve high finishes.

As no European has won for 15 years (McIlroy, Poulter and Rose), Oothuizen hasn’t shown enough recent form, Spieth has contended twice in the last two weeks thus peaking too soon and as defending Majors is extremely difficult (Watson) I think I’ll go for Jimmy Walker.  An encouraging Masters debut last year (T8), experience contending in other recent Majors, American, a good age (36) and maintaining great form over an extended period.  Hopefully a little bit of value too.

ME.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Latin America Amateur Championship

14th January 2015

A major new Amateur golf event starts tomorrow at Pilar Golf Club, just outside Buenos Aires in Argentina.

The Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC) has been established by The Masters Tournament, The R&A and the Unites States Golf Association.  This new competition follows in the footsteps of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which was first played in 2009.

This investment in the game is not small. With the help of their sponsors – AT&T, Mercedes and Rolex – all player travel, accommodation and caddie costs are being picked up by the organisers. When everything is added up the event must be costing around US$1m to put on.

The organisers expect the competition to stimulate further growth in the game in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.  It is great to see the resources of these organisations being used positively to spread the golfing word.

The top 120 male players from the 27 member countries and territories of the International Golf Federation’s Latin America Region have been invited to compete.  The leading players from the area, according to the WAGRs, are Chile’s Guillermo Pereira (6), Venezuela’s Jorge García (38) Costa Rica’s Jose Mendez (40) and Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti (64).

The start sheet for the first two rounds can be viewed here – LAAC Rd. 1 and Rd. 2 Draw

72 holes of stroke play will be played between 15th – 18th January, with the field being cut to the top 60 and ties after 36 holes.  Pilar, which has 27-holes and has previously held the Argentina Open, is a par 71 (36-35) composite course with a championship length of 7,148 yards.

The rewards for the leading players are impressive.  First and foremost the LAAC champion will receive an invitation to compete in the 2015 Masters Tournament.  They will also be afforded a full exemption into the 2015 U.S. Amateur Championship.  Along with the runner-up they will additionally be granted exemptions into both final stage qualifying for the 2015 U.S. Open and International Final Qualifying for the Open Championship.

European Tour Productions have been contracted to broadcast the Championship, with two hours of live coverage per day planned.  It is currently unclear if it will be shown on TV in Europe although live streaming will be available for the event website – www.LAACgolf.com.

Good luck to all the competitors !

ME.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.