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Masters: In front of his 'American family,' Austria's Bernd Wiesberger shoots 66


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Bernd Wiesberger striped a drive at 17 into another fairway at Augusta National Golf Club and Mike Bushcott turned to his pal Roy Greenberg, smiled widely and said, “He’s shifted into another gear.”

They would know best. Bushcott and Greenberg aren’t your typical patrons; they are founding members of the Bernd Wiesberger fan club.

“We’re small, but we’re proud,” Bushcott said.

They had plenty to cheer about on Friday as Wiesberger, winner of seven European Tour events in seven different countries, birdied four of his first five holes and posted a 6-under 66 in the second round of the 85th Masters. He is three shots back of clubhouse leader Justin Rose.

Greenberg wore a black backpack with “Bernd Wiesberger” in white lettering a dead giveaway of his allegiance. He and Wiesberger met through his watch sponsorship while Bushcott had a friend in Dubai who told him Wiesberger was looking for a place to relax ahead of the Masters three years ago. Could the 35-year-old Austrian stay at his place at Kiawah Island in South Carolina? Why not.

“He’s a gentleman, very well educated, and has a sneaky sense of humor,” Greenberg said of Wiesberger.

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“When he stayed at my house the first time, he went to the store and filled my house with groceries. He’s always doing stuff like that,” Bushcott said.

From there a friendship has blossomed.

Wiesberger was able to catch the last direct flight to Austria when the 2020 Players Championship was canceled and professional golf came to a halt for the global pandemic. When he returned to the U.S. in July to play a four-tournament stretch capped by the PGA Championship, he quarantined for 14 days in Kiawah with “Bushie.” (He’ll be staying there for the PGA Championship in May as well.)

Due to the current travel restrictions, Wiesberger’s family is unable to attend the Masters and so Wiesberger is sharing a house with his caddie Jamie Lane, Bushcott and Greenberg.

“We’re his American family,” Bushcott said.

Augusta National has been a happy hunting ground for Wiesberger, who has never missed the cut in his six appearances in the Masters. He opened with 74 on a day when “some of the flags were really tough to get to, if not impossible,” he said, and including a bogey at 15 when he memorably putted off the green and into the water on his downhill 51-foot eagle putt.

“I guess it’s got to happen to all of us eventually, and it was my moment yesterday,” he said. “Yeah, I just got a little bit too excited on the putt to have a chance for eagle. It got a little low, and it went…”

For a swim.

Wiesberger made bogey but righted the ship with a birdie at 17 and then got off to a torrid start on Friday. He curled in an 18-foot birdie at 8 for his fifth birdie on the first nine and canned a 28-foot birdie at 10. He offset his lone bogey of the day at No. 12 with an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 15.

“Today I kept the mistakes off the card. The one blemish was a perfect iron shot just flew three yards too far,” he said.

His 66 was his lowest round in 22 trips at Augusta and first round in the 60s here. Playing in the morning wave meant his family wouldn’t have to stay up too late to watch on TV back in Austria, the way he did to see “the man in the red jumper,” as he had as a kid in 1997 to see Tiger Woods triumph.

“I’m looking forward to talk to them later and have a nice celebratorial glass of wine,” Wiesberger said.

When asked whether he would be drinking red or white, he turned to Bushcott and asked, “What will be drinking, Bushie?”

“Probably both,” he said.

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