Bryden Macpherson, the reigning British Amateur champion, has withdrawn from the University of Georgia to prepare for the Masters.
Macpherson wrote Wednesday on Twitter: “Officially withdrawn from UGA. Headed to West Palm Beach for some training then to Australia for some quality time in prep for #themasters.”
Macpherson told Golfweek: “It’s not at all a bad reflection on the Georgia golf program. It was purely a decision based on my career and what’s best for me right now.”
Macpherson said he hasn’t planned beyond the Masters, which is scheduled for April 5-8. “When I turn pro will depend on how I play at the Masters,” he said. “I’m trying to not really plan beyond that. I’m just trying to spend time with my coaches and give myself the best plan to play well in the Masters.”
Macpherson also is scheduled to play the Georgia Cup on March 27 at the Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta, Ga. Macpherson will face U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft in the 18-hole match.
Macpherson’s departure means Georgia has lost the top four players from the team that finished runner-up at last year’s NCAA Championship. Harris English, Russell Henley and Hudson Swafford turned pro. English and Henley both have won on the Nationwide Tour. English is a PGA Tour rookie, while Henley and Swafford are exempt on the Nationwide Tour.
Georgia currently ranks 26th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
Macpherson, who was a junior, competed last weekend at the Jones Cup, finishing 46th after shooting 81-78-73. He is No. 54 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and was the SEC’s 2010 Newcomer of the Year. He also is one of Australia’s top amateurs, having represented his country at the 2010 World Amateur Team Championship.
The mediocre Jones Cup performance inspired the decision, Macpherson said.
“I was playing golf there that I felt I should not be playing at this point in my career,” he said. “The reason I was playing that way was because I wasn’t spending enough face time with my coaches. The technical side of my golf game wasn’t up to scratch.”
Macpherson, from Melbourne, Australia, attended the Victorian Institute of Sport before enrolling at Georgia. His swing coach, Dennis McDade, also coaches Marc Leishman, the 2009 PGA Tour rookie of the year, and European Tour player Marcus Fraser.
Macpherson missed the cut by a single stroke at the 2011 Open Championship. He also tied for 40th at last year’s Australian Masters.
The British Amateur champion has an exemption into the Memorial, regardless of whether he turns pro. Macpherson’s standing as the British Amateur champion would make him a likely candidate to receive European Tour sponsor exemptions, as well.
If he turns pro before the U.S. Open, he will have to forgo a recent invitation to the year’s second major. The U.S. Golf Association announced Saturday that the British Amateur champion was now exempt into the Open. Macpherson was scheduled to be the first player to receive that exemption.
“I basically told him that if that’s what he felt was best for him and his future, that I would support him and wish him luck,” Georgia coach Chris Haack said. “He’s going to remain a Bulldog at heart. He’s leaving on good terms.”