Ollie Osborne made his Masters debut Thursday, and the 21-year-old amateur could have become rattled after bogeying three of the first four holes at Augusta National.
But the junior from SMU settled into a groove — crediting his father, Steve, who is doubling as his caddie this week — for calming him down. Osborne was solid for the rest of the day and finished with a 4-over-par 76.
“The first tee shot was a little tough, but we made it through and I felt pretty good out there,” said Osborne, who qualified for the 85th Masters by finishing runner-up at the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes in August.
“When you bogey your first two holes it’s always a little tough, so it was nice to have someone you really know on your bag, and someone I love there to support me,” Osborne said of his father. “He brings up whatever he wants, whatever comes to mind and we have fun together.”
Osborne had an excellent up-and-down to save par on No. 17. His first birdie of the day came at the par-5 eighth hole, where he hit his second shot over the green, before making a great chip to kick-in range.
He said No. 15 was his most memorable hole of the day.
“I made a pretty good 20-footer on a big slider on No. 15, so that was a nice birdie,” Osborne said.
He said the slow start didn’t faze him.
“I didn’t feel like I was doing that bad. I just kind of kept doing my thing. I knew it was coming and I wasn’t nervous or anything,” Osborne said. “I hit some good shots and also some tough ones, but I thought I fought hard.”
U.S. Amateur champ Tyler Strafaci struggles in Masters debut
It wasn’t the round that Tyler Strafaci was hoping for to open the Masters, but the Georgia Tech grad and reigning U.S. Amateur champion soaked up everything he could in his debut at Augusta National.
Strafaci shot 80 in a round without a birdie. He found Rae’s Creek with a wayward tee shot on No. 12 en route to a triple bogey — but he took his setbacks with a great sense of humor.
“I had a blast from the first hole on,” said Strafaci, who played with defending champion Dustin Johnson and Lee Westwood. “On the first tee shot, I’ve never been more nervous in my life, so it was good to kind of hit that one out there. I played really well for about 14 holes and the other four were disastrous. I still feel I can go out tomorrow and play a really good round.
“It was just a surreal experience just being a part of a tournament with such great names and history. It’s definitely something I’m going to look back on in of the future.”
Strafaci is carrying on a family tradition at Augusta National; his grandfather, Frank Strafaci Sr., the 1935 U.S. Public Links champion, played in the Masters in 1938 and 1950.
He never met his grandfather, but Tyler Strafaci carries his memory on with his game. Staying in the Crow’s Nest for a night was a memory he’ll cherish.
“I had a few beers and had a cigar in there,” Strafaci said. “I didn’t burn down the place, which is nice. That was probably the coolest part of being an amateur playing the Masters, staying in the Crow’s Nest with all that history. I remember getting in there, and it really hit me, the gravity of kind of what I’ve done. That was pretty cool.”
Joe Long takes Augusta National caddie in Masters debut
Joe Long of England qualified as the winner of the 2020 British Amateur played at Royal Birkdale. He had never played a full round of golf in the United States until two weeks ago, when he came to Augusta for his first practice round.
The 23-year-old came to Augusta with intriguing storylines. His regular caddie contracted COVID-19 and had to miss the Masters, so Long picked up the highly-respected John Chance from Augusta National to carry his bag.
“I was fortunate to have him for all four practice rounds. John has been here for almost 20 years and he’s awesome,” Long said after a practice round with Brooks Koepka and Shane Lowry on Wednesday. “He knows the course like the back of his hand, especially on the greens. That’s the biggest thing for me because some of the slopes are so extreme — so to have his knowledge on the bag is really helpful.”
Six weeks ago Long went on a trip to South Africa with a friend. He said he tore his left gluteus and has been hampered a bit by it since.
“It was my first time surfing, and I kind of got a little bit ahead of myself,” Long said. “I enjoyed it, but when my friend took us out to the deeper ones I messed up a bit.”
Long had a rough go of it Thursday, shooting an 82 that included a triple bogey on No. 5 and a double on No. 17. He closed out strong, though, with his only birdie on the day on No. 18, where he dialed in his approach to two feet.
“The finish was good,” Long said. “I think it almost went in the hole. So, that’s a bonus. It was just one of those days where you start off OK, quite steady, and then I made a triple on No. 5. I hit one right, and it just unnerved me a bit and took a while to get back into it.”
Dennis Knight covers sports for the Savannah Morning News. Contact him at Dknight@savannahnow.com. Twitter: @DennisKnightSMN
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/04/09/masters-amateurs-struggle-embrace-experience-augusta-national/