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Masters 2024: You won’t believe how many holes this amateur played at Augusta National before the tournament

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Andrew Redington

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Neal Shipley is the envy of every golfer in the world right now. Not only was he just one of five amateurs in the 2024 Masters field, but he wrapped up his second round Friday as the only amateur inside the cut line—meaning he’ll have two more rounds at Augusta National this weekend.

Thirty-six holes on the weekend at Augusta is special. For Shipley, though, he’s probably used to having a tee time lined up here—as the runner-up at last year’s U.S. Amateur divulged he maxed out the number of rounds he played in his preparation for his Masters appearance.

Amateurs are allotted five trips to Augusta National to prepare for the Masters. That was reduced a few years ago after Bryson DeChambeau maximized an unwritten rule on the allotment of visits he made after his 2015 U.S. Amateur victory. Well, Shipley wasn’t short-changed. He said in his five trips, he always played more than 18 holes—usually 36, sometimes 27 depending on the timing.

“I had a lot of work on the golf course, and I think that's one of the reasons I feel really comfortable,” Shipley said after going 71-76 for a 3-over total.

The 22-year-old really impressed his professional playing partners. Walking up the 18th fairway, Mike Weir’s caddie Terry Holt turned to Shipley and asked him, "How did you get to know the golf course so quickly?"

Turns out 150-plus holes of prep—including 18 holes during the week’s practice rounds as well—was the perfect recipe for the kid with a Masters degree in data analytics to dial up a more time walking the fairways of Augusta National—securing the coveted low-amateur honors at the 2024 Masters.

"The walk up to 18 on Sunday, I think it's going to be really, really cool," Shipley said.