‘It’s crazy’: This Masters rookie might be the longest player in the field
AUGUSTA, Ga. — The first hole of Gordon Sargent’s Masters career started with a (literal) bang.
That’s the sound his driver produces when it makes contact with the ball — and boy, is it a nice sound. With the hip speed reminiscent of a young Tiger Woods, Sargent makes wicked lashes at the ball anytime he has the big stick in his hand, and the results are astounding.
The 19-year-old amateur is not only one of the longest hitters in amateur golf, but golf in general. His ball-speed numbers consistently cruise around 185 mph and he can get up into the 190s when he really pumps it. And, despite being mistaken for a Drive, Chip & Putt competitor earlier in the week, each time he’s played alongside a pro at Augusta National, he’s been the longest hitter in the group.
“He was so far by us it’s crazy,” said Max Homa, who played a practice round with Sargent earlier this week. “Doesn’t look like he’s going at it that hard. I’ve heard so many good things about his game. It was probably even more impressive to see him in person.”
Sargent also teed it up with major-winners Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy — two of the longest players in golf — and even then he was consistently whacking it past them. There’s long, and then there’s Gordon Sargent long. The kid has some serious speed.
“I couldn’t let them just hit it past me,” Sargent said.
Back to his opening tee shot. After mashing the ball 356 yards to the top of the hill, he spun a wedge(!) back towards the cup within 10 feet, setting up an early birdie. One under through one is always good around these parts. Talk about starting with a (metaphorical) bang.
Immediately after birdieing the 1st, Sargent pumped another drive down the left side of the fairway, and needed just an iron to get near the green in two. As Augusta has shown us many times before, though, there is more to taming this course than length. He walked away with bogey on No. 2 after dumping his chip into the bunker, and then took a triple on 3 despite nearly driving the green (350 yards).
“[The course] kicked my butt out there,” he said. “I actually drove it really well out there. Just really sloppy around the greens and on the greens.”
Welcome to Augusta National.
The remainder of the day was equally impressive off the tee, and equally frustrating around the greens. The long-drive display kept up as Sargent averaged 324 yards off the tee, a whopping 25 yards longer than tournament average. However, with a couple three-putts and some other short-game mistakes, Sargent could only muster a five-over 77 by day’s end.
“I obviously didn’t have my best stuff and I’m a little disappointed,” he said. “But I have one more crack at it tomorrow.”
When he does, he’s sure to put on another long-driving clinic.