Amateurs Miss Cut at Masters


April 11, 2009

By Alex Miceli

Augusta, Ga. - It's been four years since an amateur has made the cut at the Masters. One would have to go back to 2005, when U.S. Amateur runner-up Luke List played into the weekend.

This year's crop of amateurs with USGA ties - U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee , U.S. Amateur runner-up Drew Kittleson, U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Jack Newman and U.S. Mid-Amateur winner Steve Wilson - won't be moving on. Neither will British Amateur champion Reinier Saxton.

Lee, recently naturalized as a citizen of New Zealand and who won the Johnnie Walker Classic on the European Tour in February, shot 74-81. That included such blemishes as six-putting for a 9 on the 10 th hole and carding a 47 on the back nine to finish 10 shots off the cut. In his final event as an amateur, Lee didn't expect Augusta National to be easy after getting a taste of it in practice rounds.

 "It was hard to understand why the players struggled over here," said Lee in a pre-tournament interview.  "It was an easy course. I thought I could shoot five under or six under easily.  Now, today, I'm playing in these tough conditions out there, fast greens, and fairways still wet; I can't really hit it really far enough. Now I think I am understanding why they can't really go low."

Kittleson, sophomore at Florida State University, registered a first-round 78 but recovered with an even-par 72 on Friday. He had two eagles on No. 11, a par 4, and No. 15.

"I left a lot of shots out there," said Kittleson. "It wasn't that far off a good score, or scores that guys can make out there today.  It's something to draw off of, that I'd like to think I'm close to where I to need to be to play with these guys."

Newman, a junior at Michigan State, was in the hunt to play on the weekend after an opening-round, even-par 72. But a 76 on Friday derailed his plans. Augusta National taught him that his short game needs improvement.

"It really didn't mean anything because I'm trying to finish top 16, (to) get back," said Newman of possibly being the low amateur before Friday's round. "Personally I could care less about low amateur. I just wanted to try to come out here and compete with these guys, and I didn't."

Wilson, a reinstated amateur, felt the same pressure as the others - a stout setup that intimidated with its history, not to mention all the other star power in the field. He walked away shooting 79-75 and missing the cut by nine shots. 

The experience overshadowed any score the Mississippian recorded and left an indelible mark on in his memory.

"Just incredible," said Wilson. "It's a dream come true. Getting to play with Tom Watson, a hero of mine forever, it just couldn't have been any better."

Alex Miceli is a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on www.usga.org.
  





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