Gordon Sargent is ready for his Masters moment (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez).
Gordon Sargent is ready for his Masters moment (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez).
Lexie Perez

Gordon Sargent at The Masters: An opportunity unlike any other

Vanderbilt sophomore Gordon Sargent looks to catch fire at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia this week.

Every golfer’s dream is to drive down Magnolia Lane in Augusta, Georgia, to play in the Masters. One can only imagine stepping foot on the sacred ground of Augusta National Golf Club, breathing in the history of golf and teeing off on the first hole in front of thousands of spectators.

For Gordon Sargent, the Vanderbilt sophomore and world No. 1 amateur, this dream has become a reality. Sargent will be playing in the Masters Tournament as one of seven amateurs in the field this weekend. 

Sargent received a special invitation in early January to play in the tournament

“I was just sitting on my couch in Birmingham at 9 a.m., and I got a call from an Augusta National caller ID.” Sargent told The Hustler. “I was very caught off guard as you can imagine. My mind was racing.”

Now, three months later, Sargent is ready to play in the prestigious and historic tournament.

But let’s back up for a second. What has Sargent been doing since the invite in January? 

The answer: taking college golf by storm. He has placed in the top 10 in every tournament this spring, including winning the John Hayt Invitational in February. The sophomore has been unstoppable as of late, and succeeding on the golf course seems to be in his DNA. 

“Playing some good tournaments this spring for Vanderbilt has been really inspiring too.” Sargent said of the success of No. 1 Vanderbilt Men’s Golf this year. 

Hopefully, Sargent’s stellar play the last several months can transfer to the firm fairways and greens of Augusta National. 

However, this week won’t be the first time Sargent has walked the course at Augusta National Golf Club. Not only did he play the course five years ago at age 14, he also visited Augusta National during Spring Break this year to play with Jeff Knox, a long-time member of Augusta National, to get some advice before the big week in April. 

“Every moment at Augusta is special.” Sargent fittingly remarked. 

Fast-forward a couple weeks, and the time has come: It’s the first week of April. Master’s week. A tradition unlike any other. 

Sargent is ready to tackle this grueling test of golf.

Sargent arrived in Augusta late on Saturday to settle in for the week ahead. On Monday night, Sargent stayed in the famed Crow’s Nest, the bedrooms at the top of the Augusta National clubhouse which have housed the amateurs of the tournament for decades. While the amenities of the Crow’s Nest might not be flashy, this symbolic stay represents an amateur’s welcome to Augusta National Golf Club.

“It’s not the most comfortable space, but it’s definitely a cool experience,” Sargent said.

Sargent began the week playing practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday. He organized his schedule to play with some of the biggest names in professional men’s golf.

“For Monday, I’m playing with Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth [who later pulled out] and Max Homa.” Sargent told The Hustler. “Tuesday, I’m going to play with Rory [McIlroy].”

Sargent was in excellent company on Monday and Tuesday to say the least: McIlroy is the No. 2 ranked golfer in the world, with Thomas and Homa in the top 10 as well. 

“[I’m] trying to play with some bigger name guys…letting the nerves out in the practice rounds so [I’m not] so nervous the first couple days.” Sargent said of his practice schedule.

Sargent also intends to play in the par-3 contest on Wednesday. This fun, relaxing event is a nine-hole “tournament” the day before the real tournament starts. Players often have family members caddie for them in this wholesome affair. Some players opt to just play a normal practice round on Wednesday; however, Sargent has indicated he will be playing in this additional contest with his brother on the bag. 

Thursday is when reality will hit. It will be time for Sargent to focus in and push away distractions. The cameras will be rolling, and the golf world will be watching the players as they attempt to come out firing on day one. However, Sargent has chosen to view this pressure as an opportunity rather than a burden.

“[I want] to test my game with the best players in the world.” Sargent told The Hustler. 

While this is easier said than done, Sargent is somewhat used to pressure situations. 

When he won his NCAA individual championship title last spring, all eyes were on him as he sank that final putt on the 18th green to secure his individual victory. While the stakes are arguably higher at the Masters, Sargent should feel confident that he has prevailed in nerve-wracking situations before.

Sargent also has a motto to live by this week. 

“Stay disciplined out there,” Sargent said of his goal for the Masters.

It seems easy enough, but Augusta National tends to challenge even the best golfers in the world. It’s easy to become tempted to pull off the “hero shot” out of the pines or attack pins which have little margin for error. 

“Augusta is limiting your mistakes. Getting the ball in play and keeping the ball in front of you.” Sargent said of his strategy for play this week.

Gordon Sargent is ready for his Masters moment (Vanderbilt Athletics).
Gordon Sargent is ready for his Masters moment (Vanderbilt Athletics). (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Luckily, Sargent’s style of play, hitting long tee shots to leave shorter approaches, should work in his favor this week on the August National Course. 

“You can take advantage of it off the tee.” Sargent said. 

Considering his exceptional driving ability, Sargent’s wedge and short-iron play will be much more important. If he can dial in his distance control with his irons and continue to drive the ball well, the sophomore will be given more scoring opportunities. Sargent’s putting will also be tested on the quick Augusta greens. The ability to sink timely putts to gain momentum will be key to Sargent shooting low scores. Putting and approach play will inevitably define Gordon’s performance this week at the Masters. 

To hopefully settle the nerves of playing in a major championship, Sargent will see some familiar faces among the crowds at the Masters. Many members of the Vanderbilt Men’s Golf team will be heading down to Augusta for a day to cheer on their teammate. Similarly, Head Coach Scott Limbaugh and Assistant Coach Gator Todd will be present on the grounds, providing some comfort for the 19-year-old.

“It will be cool to see lots of people I know out there watching and supporting.” said Sargent.

Perhaps most importantly, Sargent’s caddie for the weekend will be William Kane, a close friend.

“We have good chemistry.” Sargent said. “He caddied for me at the US Am[atuer Tournament] last year.”

One more thing Sargent wants to cross off his bucket list this week? Meeting Tiger Woods.

“That would be the coolest thing,” Sargent said.

Woods has had his fair share of iconic moments at the Masters, including his “return to glory” in 2019. Bubba Watson’s famous hook out of the pine straw in 2012 and McIlroy’s bunker hole-out on the 18th green in 2022 are similar recent memories. 

Can the Vanderbilt amateur replicate magic and etch his name in golf lore this weekend? For Sargent, the goal is a bit more simple. 

“It’s the same objective as [I] have been doing [my] whole life: Just get the ball in the hole,” Sargent told The Hustler.

Sargent tees off at 11:48 a.m. CDT on Thursday and 9:36 a.m. CDT on Friday, playing with Jason Day and Zach Johnson. 

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About the Contributors
Henry Oelhafen
Henry Oelhafen, Deputy Sports Editor
Henry Oelhafen (‘26) is a student in Peabody College majoring in human and organizational development and minoring in business. Henry grew up as a Vanderbilt sports fan and loves to talk about both professional and amateur golf. In addition to writing, he loves to play golf with friends, hike and try new restaurants. He can be reached at [email protected].
Matthew Shipley
Matthew Shipley, Former Senior Staff Writer
Matthew Shipley (‘25) is from Hendersonville, Tenn., and is majoring in economics, mathematics and political science and minoring in data science. He enjoys closely following the U.S. Supreme Court, playing basketball and being involved in his faith community. He can be reached at [email protected].
Lexie Perez
Lexie Perez, Graphics Editor
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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