Porteous looks to break British Am slump in Masters

Garrick Porteous of England looks during the 2014 Masters to break the British Amateur champions' slump at Augusta (shown here during the 2013 Walker Cup).

Don’t expect British Amateur champion Garrick Porteous to make the cut at Augusta National. History is against him.

Only two British Amateur champions have made the cut in the Masters during the last 33 years, and only seven have done so since the Masters introduced a cut in 1957.

Matteo Manassero in 2010 and Sergio Garcia in 1999 are the two players in recent times to play all four rounds at Augusta as reigning British Amateur champions. Before that you have to go back to 1980 to Jay Sigel finishing joint 26th. Peter McEvoy finished 53rd two years earlier. He remains the only English winner of the British Amateur to qualify for the last two rounds.

Steve Melnyk (1972), Bobby Cole (1967) and Deane Beman (1960) are the other three British Amateur champions to make the cut.

Porteous earned his Masters invite thanks to beating Finland’s Toni Hakula at Royal Cinque Ports last year. The former University of Tennessee player will be hoping he doesn’t do what British Amateur champions usually do and shoot a ton in the first round to make things hard in round two.

The average first-round score for British Amateur champions stands at 76.89. The average score rises in round two to 77.25.

Trevor Homer holds the ignominious record for the highest score by a British Amateur champion. He returned a second-round 88 in 1973. British Amateur champions have failed to break 80 on 31 occasions.

Gary Wolstenholme holds the distinction of playing in two Masters as a British Amateur champion. The six-time Walker Cup player played in 1992 and 2004 and missed the cut both times.

“I know it hasn’t been done a lot over the years, but it can be done,” said Wostenholme, who returned a level-par 72 in his Masters debut. “If I think back to 1992, I shot 78 in the second round but I had a double and a triple bogey. Take away those two scores and if I’d made a few other putts then I’d have made the cut.”

So what does Porteous have to do that most others before him haven’t done?

“He has to make sure his short game is as good as it possibly can be,” Wolstenholme said. “It’s also about having the right equipment for the course. He might think about more rescue clubs than long irons, that sort of thing. Most importantly, he’s got to go out and enjoy it and not get down on himself if he makes a bogey. Patience is a big key.”

Manassero is one of only six players to break par at Augusta, thanks to his first-round 71. Only seven players have managed to match par.

E. Harvie Ward holds the record for lowest score at Augusta by a British Amateur champion. Ward returned a third-round 69 in 1953 on his way to finishing joint 14th.

Lawson Little holds the record for highest finish by a British Amateur champion. He placed sixth in the 1935 Masters.

Those are the highlights, and not many of them. It makes you wonder why Augusta National still offers a place to the British Amateur champion.

Porteous will tee it up in his second major after last year’s Open Championship at Muirfield. His scores there do not bode well for Augusta. He returned rounds of 76 and 77 to miss the cut by three shots.

“I’ve always said the greatest perk of winning the Amateur Championship is playing in the Masters,” Wolstenholme said. “It would be a great shame if the tradition was stopped. I know not many make the cut, but then many professionals struggle the first time they play Augusta?”

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