RIVERSIDE, Iowa – Throughout the practice round here at the Golfweek Conference Challenge at Blue Top Ridge players were asking each other who won the semifinal matches at the U.S. Amateur. It was important to the players because the winners of Saturday’s matches at Southern Hills got automatic invitations to play in the Masters next spring – something every college player dreams about.
Ben Martin and Byeong-Hun An earned a spot at Augusta by advancing to the final of today’s U.S. Amateur Championship, but don’t you think North Carolina State’s Matt Hill might be worthy of a trip down Magnolia Lane?
Martin, who will be a senior at Clemson this year, has been a top-100 player since his freshman year, with his best year coming as a junior when he finished the season ranked 57th. And An, who has given a verbal to play college golf at California, is ranked 34th overall in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings and the 12th best player in the 2010 class.
No discredit to Martin or An, but Hill did more than enough. He was the top-ranked player in college golf, he won the player of the year award and was the NCAA individual champion. When you have a college year like that, that should weigh a bit more than seven days in Tulsa, Okla.
In fact, I think the top player in college golf should be invited to the Masters evey year. Whether you choose the top-ranked player or the individual champion or both – that’s fine with me. Some may say that college golf lost that chance when they reduced the individual championship from 72 to 54 holes, but why should that really matter? College golf plays 54-hole events all season long.
It’s doubtful it will happen, but it would be the right thing to do.