AUGUSTA, GA – The 2012 Masters is set to get underway on Thursday and six amateur players have earned their chance to play in the season’s first Major.
The most prominent player in the betting for this award is Patrick Cantlay who can be backed at an industry best price of 2/1 William Hill. Cantlay is currently a sophomore at UCLA and he is the number one golfer in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. The American finished the 2011 US Open as the lowest amateur in a share for 21st before shooting a course record 60 at the Travelers Championship. He then went on to make the cut at the AT&T National in a run where he finished in the top-25 in four consecutive events before finishing the season as runner-up in the US Amateur. This finish at the US Amateur earned him starts at the Masters, US Open and The Open and he has decided to remain an amateur for another season, missing out on what could amount to millions of dollars prize money and he looks the man to beat this week.
The defending champion of the Sliver cup is Hideki Matsuyama who is also available at 2/1 with Stan James and his exploits at the event last year saw him finish in a tie for 27th. He is the back-to-back winner of the Asian Amateur Championship which ensured he would take his place in the field again at Augusta National. The 20-year old Japanese superstar made history last year becoming the first Asian player to win the Silver Cup and is third round 68 shows he has all the attributes needed to be successful round this testing course. Matsuyama won the gold medal at the 2011 world University Games and in November last year he became only the third amateur to win on the Japan tour when he walked away with the Mitsio Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters.
Kelly Kraft is quoted at 7/1 with Coral to lift the Silver Cup this week and will be confident of putting in a decent performance after he beat Cantlay in the final of the US Amateur at the end of August. He was named in the 2011 US Walker Cup team and is a two-time Texas Amateur Champion. He is currently ranked seventh in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and Kraft will need to produce some of his best golf to finish ahead of his amateur rivals this week.
The winner of the 2011 US Amateur Public Links Championship Corbin Mills is currently available at 8/1 with Coral. Mills is a junior at Clemson University and has rapidly climbed the Amateur rankings to his current fifth placed position thanks to added self-belief and his improved putting. He won the Public Links and Players Amateur in consecutive weeks and he has solid ball-striking and superb distance control that should help him around this historic venue.
Bryden Macpherson was the winner of the 2011 British Amateur Championship which ensured he was handed an invite this week. He became only the second Australian to win that tournament in its 116-year history and Macpherson can be backed at a standout 8/1 with Paddy Power. He will hope to improve on his last outing in a major tournament, where he missed the cut by a stroke at the 2011 Open Championship. The Australian is a junior at the University of Georgia and he helped his university to the finals of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. This will be Macpherson’s last tournament as an amateur, despite an invitation to the 2012 US Open, as he looks set to turn professional at the start of next week.
The outsider of the field is Randal Lewis who is currently quoted at 25/1 with Paddy Power.When he tees up on Thursday he will become the oldest rookie in the tournament’s history and the 54 year old financial planner from Michigan will face a colossal task to make it through to the weekend. Lewis will attempt to become the first player invited to Augusta as the reigning Mid-Amateur champion to make the cut.
The first group tees off at 12.50 BST on Thursday 5th April and all the action is broadcast live on Sky Sports.