The Masters - The Masters: Meet the amateurs
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are names that roll off the tongue of every golf fan watching the Masters. Randal Lewis, Bryden Macpherson and Hideki Matsuyama? Not so much.
While you might not know these names now, you'll probably be hearing from a few of them in the next couple of years. These six players make up the talented amateur group playing in the 2012 Masters.
Here's a quick introduction to every amateur in this week's field:
Patrick Cantlay (United States) — Being the top-ranked amateur in the R&A World Amateur Golf Rankings affords you some incredibly nice perks, like spots in the first three majors of the year. Cantlay, the runner-up at last year's U.S. Amateur, could be the most tour-ready player of the bunch. Just last season he posted four top 25 finishes in five starts on the PGA Tour, including a T-21 at the U.S. Open that saw him win low amateur honors. The 20-year-old sophomore at UCLA seems unfazed by the pressure that usually comes with playing alongside some of the top players in the world. If there's one amateur in the field that could make some noise this week, it's Cantlay.
Kelly Kraft (United States) — Kraft, who won four major amateur titles last year, took down Cantlay to win the U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills. His win earned him a spot in the Masters, British Open and U.S. Open, but instead of enjoying the ride, Kraft will play at Augusta National and turn pro after the tournament.
Randal Lewis (United States) — The 54-year-old from Michigan is the epitome of an amateur golfer. Unlike most of the guys in the field, Lewis is a financial planner who usually squeezes in rounds between work and spending time with his family. He won the U.S. Mid-Amateur last year to book his ticket to Augusta. If you want a guy to root for this week, Randal Lewis is your guy.
Bryden Macpherson (Australia) — Macpherson became only the second Aussie in British Amateur history to win the event last year. Like Kelly Kraft, the University of Georgia golfer will make the Masters his final amateur event before turning pro. Macpherson already has an invite to play The Memorial later this summer.
Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) — Last year's low amateur at the Masters makes his return after winning the Asian Amateur for the second straight year. A native of Sendai, the Japanese city devastated by last year's tsunami, Matsuyama almost passed on the chance to play in the Masters. Despite all the turmoil at home, he ended up being the only amateur to make the cut.
Corbin Mills (United States) — The junior at Clemson University earned his spot in the Masters field with a win at the U.S. Amateur Public Links. But it won't be his only start in the big leagues this month. After playing at Augusta National, Mills will head to Hilton Head, S.C., for the RBC Heritage, after earning a spot in the field via his Players Amateur victory. He's currently ranked fifth in the R&A World Amateur Golf Rankings.