Five months after Dustin Johnson secured the green jacket, we’re almost set for the latest renewal of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
Augusta can humble even the most decorated professional, its elevation changes and devilishly tricky greens making for an iconic test, and guaranteeing four days of sporting drama.
To add to the tournament’s intrigue and charm, the Masters has a historic relationship with amateurs, offering young talent the opportunity to compete with the world’s best players.
However, only three amateur participants will test their credentials this year because of the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, half the number who participated in November.
The envy of every young player worldwide, Joe Long, Tyler Strafaci and Ollie Osborne will all tee off at Augusta having earned coveted sports in the field.
Joe Long was born in Bristol, England, and at 23 years old he is currently ranked just inside the top 50 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Impressively consistent beforehand, Long earned his place here when he became the Amateur champion in August, the highlight of his career so far.
That triumph, at the expense of a close friend and teammate in a closely-fought final, announced Long’s name to the world and helped secure an invite to the Masters.
His preparation, which includes playing Augusta with a local caddie, almost suffered a devastating blow in a surfing accident, but Long is ready and raring to go.
His experience of playing in two European Tour events late last year may help, although he missed the cut in both.
Arguably the most interesting of the amateurs participating at Augusta, 23-year-old Tyler Strafaci was born in Davie, Florida and currently attends Georgia Tech.
He is ranked 12th in the WAGR and won three big events last year: the US Amateur Championship, Palmetto Amateur and the North & South Amateur.
It was his win at the US Amateur Championship which secured his place at the Masters, and Strafaci boasts an interesting profile thanks to his unique family heritage.
Strafaci’s mother and father both gained a degree of notoriety in the 1970s for their respective exploits in golf in Florida, but it's his grandfather, a former winner of the Public Links and a decorated amateur in his own right, who provides the golfing lineage.
Rubbing shoulders with such names as Jon Rahm and Tony Finau at Torrey Pines earlier this year may help Strafaci as he heads to Augusta National as the most likely of this trio to make the weekend.
Ollie Osborne is 22 years old and was born in from Reno, Nevada. Now studying at Southern Methodist University, the American has established himself as an important part of their team.
In the WAGR he takes the spot of 232, but some of his results are much more impressive than that might suggest.
He qualified for the Masters when runner-up to Strafaci in the US Amateur, and the pair are set to rekindle their rivalry this week.
A winner at the 2017 Jordan Spieth Championship, the 2016 FCWT Dove Mountain and most recently the 2019 Royal Oaks intercollegiate, Osborne has titles on his CV despite being some way below his compatriot in the rankings.
However, unlike the other two amateurs at this year’s Masters, Osbourne has not competed at any tour-level events and that may put him at a disadvantage.