Bryson DeChambeau will not repeat this year as the winner of the Silver Cup at the Masters.
That’s because the Silver Cup is awarded to the low amateur, and DeChambeau turned professional after finishing 21st at 5-over par as the low Am in the 2016 Masters.
This year there are five contenders for the Silver Cup.
The clear favorite has to be US Amateur champion Curtis Luck. As the reigning US Am champ and the world’s number one ranked amateur, Luck will tee it up Thursday and Friday with Masters defending champion Danny Willett and Olympic bronze medalist Matt Kuchar.
Luck has waited nine months for this pairing. He could have turned pro after last summer’s victory at Oakland Hills but he would have forfeited his Masters invitation if he had.
“To be honest,” Luck told the Augusta Chronicle, “I felt ready last year. I’d entered tour school and was at the point where if I qualified I was turning pro, and I didn’t have any issues with that because I felt like my game was there. I postponed things a little, but for a good reason.”
Luck, 20, from Perth, Australia, also qualified for this year’s Masters with his win in the Asian Pacific Amateur championship.
Luck is hoping to join a prestigious group of players who have won both the US Amateur and the Silver Cup: the list includes, among others, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Ken Venturi and DeChambeau. Of course, Luck’s no doubt thinking even more about becoming the first amateur to ever win the Masters.
While Luck is the favorite for the Silver Cup, he’s quite familiar with his top challenger, Brad Dalke, who qualified for the Masters by finishing runner-up to Luck in the US Am.
Dalke, at 19 one of two teenagers in this year’s Masters field, plays for the University of Oklahoma Sooners golf team, but he’s probably more famous right now for having posted video of his winning an arm wrestling match with Rory McIlroy in 2015.
McIlroy is, obviously, at Augusta this week so perhaps he and Dalke will have an arm wrestling rematch – check your Twitter feeds for results… Too bad Dalke didn’t draw McIlroy as a playing companion for Thursday and Friday’s rounds. Instead, he’ll be paired with Ian Woosnam and James Hahn.
The third amateur in this year’s Masters field is 2016 British Amateur champion Scott Gregory, a 22-year old from Portsmouth, England.
Gregory is currently the eighth-ranked amateur in the world but he’s played well since his British Am victory; he finished second in the Spanish Amateur Championship, helped propel England to second place in the World Amateur Team Championship and won three of his four matches leading the Great Britain & Ireland team to the St. Andrews Trophy.
Gregory will play Thursday and Friday with 1988 winner Sandy Lyle from Scotland and American Sean O’Hair.
Masters invitations are offered to six amateur qualifiers who haven’t turned professional before the tournament. In addition to the US Amateur champion and runner-up and the British Am champ, the other invitees are the winners of the US Mid-Amateur, the Latin American Amateur and the Asian Pacific Amateur.
This year the Mid-Am champion is a real estate pro from New York, Stewart Hagestad. Hagestad played his way into the field with an amazing finish at the Mid-Am, where he roared back from four down with five holes to go in the final to win in a playoff.
Hagestad was on the college golf team at USC so he knows high-level competition, but he’s not expected to challenge for the Silver Cup. Then again, he was four down with five holes to play and still won the Mid-Am, so anything can happen. He’ll play the first two rounds with Larry Mize and Brian Stuard.
The field’s final amateur contender this year is Chile’s Toto Gana, a 19-year old freshman at Lynn University in Florida, and the current Latin American Amateur champion.
Gana was the 285th-ranked amateur when the Latin American championship was played in Panama City this year, after his win in a playoff over world number three amateur Joaquin Niemann, he’s now ranked 156th.
Gana is paired with Vijay Singh and Emiliano Grillo for the first two rounds.
No amateur has ever won the Masters, whose co-creator was Bobby Jones, the greatest amateur golfer of all-time.
But three times an Am has finished second: Ken Venturi in 1956, Frank Stranahan in 1947, and six-time Silver Cup winner Charles Coe who holds the amateur scoring record of 7-under par when he finished as runner-up (with Arnold Palmer) in 1961, one stroke behind Gary Player.
Could this be the year an amateur wins the Masters?
Probably not, but don’t be surprised if one or two of this year’s gifted crop of amateurs spend some time on the leader board this week.
Watch some amateur golf from last summer’s coverage:
Who will take home the Silver Cup given to the Masters low amateur?
Curtis Luck, Brad Dalke, Stewart Hagestad, Toto Gana, Scott Gregory pic.twitter.com/QCviEHt3ys
— PGA.COM (@PGAcom) April 4, 2017