Most amateurs make Masters cut since 2003

Amateur Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan, hits off the first fairway during the second round the Masters.

Amateur Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan, hits off the first fairway during the second round the Masters.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Kelly Kraft and Patrick Cantlay extended their stays in the Crow’s Nest, while Hideki Matsuyama continued to impress at Augusta National. Three amateurs made the cut at the Masters, the most since 2003.

Hideki Matsuyama, the two-time Asian Amateur champ, will enter the weekend with a four-shot lead over Kraft and Cantlay as he tries to earn low-amateur honors for the second consecutive year.

Matsuyama is tied for 31st overall at 1-over 145 (71-74). Cantlay (71-78) and Kraft (74-75) are tied for 57th, beneficiaries of the Masters’ 10-shot rule. The Masters cut is to the low 45 and ties and anyone within 10 shots of the lead. Cantlay and Kraft made the cut because of the latter.

“I had three goals before I came here, and the first one was to make the cut,” Matsuyama said. “The second was to have a better score than I did last year. And the third one is to be in the top 16 and ties so that I could come back next year.”

Matsuyama finished 27th at last year’s Masters, the best showing by an amateur since 2005.

This year’s amateur contingent at Augusta was especially strong. Cantlay (1), Matsuyama (4) and Kraft (7) all rank inside the top seven of the R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. For Cantlay, a UCLA sophomore, it was his second consecutive made cut in a major (T-21, 2011 U.S. Open) and sixth made cut in seven PGA Tour starts.

“I still feel a little rusty out on the golf course,” Cantlay said. “I haven’t played a bunch of tournaments and so I just think playing the full schedule this spring at college events, I’ll get really sharp and comfortable out there.”

Cantlay also is exempt into the next two majors, the U.S. Open and Open Championship.

Kraft made an 8-foot bogey putt on his final hole to make the cut on the number. Making the cut here will help Kraft, who is turning pro immediately after the Masters, as he seeks sponsor exemptions. Valero Texas Open tournament officials told Golfweek that they extended Kraft an exemption Thursday night. The event, scheduled for April 19-22 in San Antonio, likely will be his pro debut. Kraft, an SMU alumnus from Denton, Texas, also received invitations to the two PGA Tour stops in the Dallas area in May.

More than a dozen of Kraft’s friends and family cheered as he emerged from the scoring area late Friday. “I just wasn’t going to give up,” said Kraft, who was 4 over for his first 10 holes this week.

Making the Masters cut has another benefit: It exempts players into the second stage of this year’s Q-School, which is scheduled to be the last Q-School that will offer PGA Tour cards.

British Amateur champion Bryden Macpherson (77-76), U.S. Amateur Public Links winner Corbin Mills (74-81) and U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Randal Lewis (81-78) missed the cut.

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