AUGUSTA, Ga. – Ben Martin knew what it would take to succeed at Augusta National: good putting. He said before the tournament that he was hitting the ball well, but the putting surfaces are Augusta National’s biggest challenge.
“I feel like my ballstriking’s good,” Martin said Wednesday. “The greens are tough to read.”
He hit the ball well in the Masters’ first round, hitting 14 of 18 greens, but needed 34 putts in his first-round 75. Martin was under par early, following a bogey on the first hole with birdies on the next two holes.
It’s the second time Martin has reached red figures in a major. Martin was 2 under par through 11 holes of last year’s U.S. Open to hold the early first-round lead.
Martin, a Clemson senior, ended up shooting even par on his first nine holes Thursday, then made six pars and three bogeys on his second nine. He is No. 52 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
Martin is the third Clemson golfer to play in the Masters while still a Clemson student, joining Chris Patton (1990) and D.J. Trahan (2001). Martin is also exempt for this year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. When he plays there, he will become the first Clemson golfer to play in two U.S. Opens as an amateur and the first to play in three majors as an amateur.
Martin is the only active collegian in the field. Former Memphis player Brad Benjamin, the U.S. Amateur Public Links champ, shot 73. U.S. Amateur champion Byeong-Hun An, who’ll be a freshman at Cal this fall, shot 78.