CHAMPIONS
USGA Champions a Strong Presence on Masters Leader Board April 11, 2016 By David Shefter and Scott Lipsky

2013 U.S. Amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick notched his best performance in a major on Sunday, finishing tied for seventh. (USGA/Matthew Harris)

Reigning U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau closed out his amateur career in style on Sunday, shooting an even-par 72 at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club to earn low-amateur honors in the 80th Masters Tournament.

The 22-year-old DeChambeau, one of four U.S. Amateur champions to make the cut in the Masters, holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to finish tied for 21st at 5-over 293, five ahead of France’s Romain Langasque, the reigning British Amateur champion.

DeChambeau, of Clovis, Calif., will make his professional debut this week at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C. DeChambeau withdrew from Southern Methodist University in the fall to focus solely on golf. He competed in professional events in Asia and Australia as well as the PGA Tour to prepare for the Masters, an invitation he earned by winning last year’s U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club.

“I hope so,” said DeChambeau when asked if he’s ready for the next step in his career. “I have traveled across the world to gain experience, and I’ve capped it off here. The Masters was something special. So, yes, I’m ready.”

The most disappointed man on the property Sunday evening had to be reigning U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, who held a five-stroke lead with nine holes to play, only to make consecutive bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11 and then a disastrous quadruple-bogey 7 on 12 after hitting two balls in the water. One of five USGA champions to place among the top 10, Spieth, 22 of Dallas, shared second place with Lee Westwood, three behind winner Danny Willett, of England, who was a member of the 2007 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup Team.

Willett’s final-round 67 matched the day’s low round with countrymen Matthew Fitzpatrick, the 2013 U.S. Amateur champion, and 1999 GB&I Walker Cup Team member Paul Casey. Fitzpatrick, playing in his second Masters, tied for seventh at even-par 288 to earn an invitation to the 2017 Masters. The low 12 scorers and ties are traditionally invited back the following year.

Danny Lee, of New Zealand, the 2008 U.S. Amateur champion, carded a 1-under 71 to finish in a tie for 17th after starting the third round just two strokes off the lead before a Saturday 79 moved him out of contention. Matt Kuchar, the 1997 U.S. Amateur champion, tied for 24th.

U.S. Open champions Justin Rose (2013) and Rory McIlroy (2011) each tied for 10th at 1-over 289, along with Brandt Snedeker, the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion. McIlroy needs a Masters win to complete the career grand slam.


Langer Finds Fountain of Youth

The Masters seems to bring out the best in its champions, regardless of age. This year, it was 1985 and 1993 champion Bernhard Langer, 58, of Germany, who once again rekindled his success at Augusta National Golf Club. Six years removed from capturing the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, Langer carded six birdies in shooting a 2-under 70 in Saturday’s third round. It put him just two strokes behind 54-hole leader Jordan Spieth and in the penultimate pairing on Sunday with Hideki Matsuyama. Langer was trying to surpass Julius Boros as the oldest major champion. Boros, a two-time U.S. Open champion (1952 and 1963), was 48 when he claimed the 1968 PGA Championship. The chance at history didn’t seem to faze him.

“When I play really, really well, when I bring my ‘A’ game, I can still compete, even on a very, very long golf course like this,” Langer said after his round on Saturday. “I’m not that long, but I try to make up for it in other things I do.”

Alas, the final round would be a tough one, as Langer bogeyed the opening hole en route to a 7-over 79 and a tie for 24th in his 33rd Masters start. The strong performance wasn’t entirely unexpected for the two-time winner, who finished tied for eighth in 2014, a year after he tied for 25th. He also continues to be a dominant player on the Champions Tour with 26 career wins, including five majors.

Coincidentally, Langer’s U.S. Senior Open win, held at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., came over 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples, who has five top-20 finishes in the Masters since turning 50.

Ward Wettlaufer won both of his matches in the 1959 Walker Cup. (Porter Cup)

USA Walker Cup Team Member, Three-Time Masters Competitor Dies

The 1959 USA Walker Cup Team, arguably one of the best in the history of the Match, lost one of its members on March 31 when H. Ward Wettlaufer died at the age of 80 in Naples, Fla. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., who won the 1966 North & South Amateur and two Porter Cups (1960, 1965), Wettlaufer had a 2-0 record in the USA’s 9-3 victory over Great Britain and Ireland at Muirfield in Scotland.

Wettlaufer teamed with future 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus to post a 2-and-1 foursomes win, and he defeated Michael Lunt, 6 and 5, in singles. That USA Team also included 1973 Masters champion Tommy Aaron, U.S. Amateur champions Nicklaus, Charles Coe (playing captain), E. Harvie Ward and Deane Beman, and two-time U.S. Senior Amateur champion William Hyndman III. Wettlaufer, the only member of that team to remain an amateur, also was runner-up in the 1956 NCAA Championship and a semifinalist in the 1958 U.S. Amateur. After graduating from Hamilton College, he took over his family’s printing business. He competed in three consecutive Masters from 1959 and two U.S. Opens (1960 and 1965). According to the Buffalo News, a memorial service will be held this summer.

David Shefter is a senior writer and content manager for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org. Scott Lipsky is the manager of websites and digital platforms at the USGA. Email him at slipsky@usga.org.