TULSA, Okla. – Ben Martin’s father, Jim, was standing on the first tee at Southern Hills, when he thought, “We’re 18 holes from the Masters.”
Of course, he didn’t mention it to his son. There’s enough pressure playing in the U.S. Amateur semifinals without thinking about playing at Augusta, a tournament that’s close to the family’s heart. Well, the Martins are headed to the Masters after Ben’s 5-and-4 victory over Charlie Holland on Saturday.
Jim Martin said that watching his son at Augusta will even outweigh watching him in this year’s U.S. Open, where he was 2 under early in the first round to get on the leaderboard.
“Playing in the Open was great, but playing in the Masters will be like a dream,” Jim Martin said, “because it’s been the place that we’ve gone to and it’s so special to us.”
The Martins went to the final round of this year’s tournament even though Ben’s mother, Suzie, had 15 stitches in her lip. One week earlier, Suzie was hit in the face with a drive while watching Ben play the first round of the U.S. Collegiate Championship.
Ben Martin will have plenty of time to prepare for his Masters debut. Martin, a fifth-year senior at Clemson, has one more class to complete his degree in financial management. He has to go to class two days a week for 90 minutes per day, according to Jim Martin. In the spring, Martin will have to take 12 units to stay eligible. But, with his degree completed, he’ll take, “four of the less stringent classes that he can find,” Jim Martin said with a laugh.
Masters invitations are usually sent out in December. Once a player has been invited, he can make arrangements to play the club. With Clemson only two hours from Augusta, it’s a safe bet that Martin will take advantage of that perk many times.