Masters 2022: Meet the 6 amateurs competing at Augusta National
Before Augusta National was home to the greatest moments in professional golf — before it was even home to the Masters — it was a haven for amateur golf.
The club’s roots, which date back to the early 20th century, belong in the amateur game. This, of course, is thanks to its founder, Bobby Jones. Jones is the most famous amateur in golf history, a player who won seven majors without ever turning “pro.” Rather, Jones moonlighted in professional golf from his day job as an attorney.
In later years, after Jones and Clifford “Cliff” Roberts founded Augusta National Golf Club on the remains of a peach farm in rural Georgia, the two men set out to form a golf tournament to bring notoriety to their great course. They created what would later become known as the Masters, and in Jones’ spirit, ensured amateur golf would serve as an indelible piece of the tournament’s tradition.
Today, the Masters’ amateur tradition is among its most celebrated acts. Each year, Augusta National invites its amateurs to stay in the famed “Crow’s Nest” — a bunk-style dormitory above the clubhouse. The club also hosts an annual amateur dinner on the night before the Masters begins, an idea that came at the suggestion of Jones himself. On Sunday afternoon, when the winner is chauffeured into Butler Cabin for his televised interview, the Masters low amateur is chauffeured alongside him.
This year, the tradition will continue yet again with one of the best amateur fields in recent history. Below, meet each of the six amateurs who will be competing in this year’s Masters.
1. Keita Nakajima
The top-ranked amateur in the world, and one of the best young players to enter the Masters field since Viktor Hovland won low amateur honors in 2019, Keita Nakajima is a rising star in the golf world.
Nakajima is something of a superstar in his native Japan, seen by many as the natural successor to Hideki Matsuyama atop the country’s golf mantel. He finished T28 in his first PGA Tour start at the Zozo Championship in October, and has played in a handful of Tour events already. He enters the Masters having already won on the Japan Golf Tour in 2021.
2. James Piot
The reigning U.S. Amateur champion, James Piot coasts into Augusta National on the high of his surprise, come-from-behind win at Oakmont last summer. The 23-year-old is a fifth-year senior at Michigan State, where he owns the program record for single-season scoring average.
3. Aaron Jarvis
The pride of the Cayman Islands, Aaron Jarvis is ticking off a Masters first in 2022 in more ways than one. Jarvis, who plays collegiately for UNLV, won the Latin American Amateur Championship to earn an invite into the field at Augusta National. In doing so, he’ll be the first player from the Cayman Islands to tee it up in the event. Augusta will mark the first in a storybook summer for the 19-year-old, who will also be the first from his country ever to tee it up at the Open Championship at St. Andrews in July.
4. Stew Hagestad
It feels a bit disingenuous to include Stewart Hagestad, age 30, among this list of young up-and-comers. The reigning U.S. Mid-Am champion is something of an amateur lifer, having competed in events on the amateur circuit for the better part of a decade. This year will mark his second Masters start — he finished T36 in 2017, becoming the first Mid-Am entrant to make the cut at Augusta National.
5. Laird Shepherd
Owner of the most dramatic of the Masters amateur entrance stories, Shepherd climbed back from eight down (and four down with four to play) to win the 2021 British Amateur. A native of St. Andrews, Scotland, Shepherd will look to defend his title at the British Amateur in June to earn entrance into a second-consecutive Open Championship in his backyard at the Old Course.
6. Austin Greaser
Austin Greaser hails from Vandalia, Ohio, an hour west of Dublin (which you might know as the home of the most decorated champion in Masters history, Jack Nicklaus.) Greaser, who finished as the runner-up at last year’s U.S. Amateur, is a junior at North Carolina.