MY FIRST TIME

At the time of go­ing to press, 13 play­ers were listed to make their Masters de­but. Here, past and present stars share won­der­ful mem­o­ries of their first ex­pe­ri­ences at Au­gusta Na­tional.

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS - COMPILED BY BREN­DAN JAMES

Here, past and present stars of the game, in­clud­ing Tiger Woods and Jack Nick­laus, share won­der­ful mem­o­ries of their first ex­pe­ri­ences at Au­gusta Na­tional and the Masters.

JACK NICK­LAUS Masters de­but: 1959

“I frankly don’t re­mem­ber who I played my first round with. I played my sec­ond round with Roger McManus, I re­mem­ber that. First round, I should know that. That was only 50-odd years ago (laughs).

“But we stayed up at the Crow’s Nest. I don’t know whether you know what they used do here, but now for the am­a­teurs that come in, you’re an am­a­teur so they have got to charge you, so they charge you a dol­lar for break­fast, a dol­lar for lunch, and two dol­lars for din­ner.

“Phil Rogers and I stayed to­gether and we ended up hav­ing two shrimp cock­tails and two or three steaks, and a few days later they come back and say, ‘Jack, you’re eat­ing far more and we’re go­ing to have to charge you an ex­tra two dol­lars for each steak,’ and I said, ‘Fine, we’ll be happy to pay that, just bring the steaks on.’

But we had a good time stay­ing up there. Guys that were on the Walker Cup team to­gether, it was Dean (Be­man) and Tommy Aaron, Phil wasn’t on the team, but Phil was up there, and I think five of them stayed up there. It was fun.

“We en­joyed that, and you sort of climb up to look out and watch what’s go­ing on out­side. Just a bunch of young kids want­ing to learn how to play golf. We played a lot of prac­tice rounds to­gether, all as a group, and we had good fun.”

DUSTIN JOHN­SON Masters de­but: 2009

“Au­gusta Na­tional is my favourite place to come. From the first time I came here, it’s the only place where a ma­jor is held at the same golf course ev­ery year. Grow­ing up so close to here, it’s al­ways been my favourite to watch, to come to, to play in now. It def­i­nitely means a lot to be here. I’m al­ways proud to be here and ex­cited when I get that in­vi­ta­tion ev­ery year around Christ­mas time.

“I got in­vited to play Au­gusta be­fore I ac­tu­ally played in the Masters, but I never did un­til I ac­tu­ally made it here for my first time. Then I came and played early be­fore the tour­na­ment.

“It’s just a place that’s very spe­cial to me.”

I PLAYED A PRAC­TICE ROUND WITH GREG NOR­MAN, AND WE POURED SOME WA­TER ON THE 16TH GREEN AT THE TOP AND IT ROLLED OFF THE GREEN … – ADAM SCOTT

JUSTIN THOMAS Masters de­but: 2016

“My first in­vite got sent to my home home, in Louisville. So my par­ents got it in the mail be­fore I left for Ka­palua and they brought it. To see it in per­son was pretty cool. I have it framed in my house. First Masters, it’s def­i­nitely some­thing I’ll never for­get.

“Even when you al­ready know you are in, get­ting the in­vite never gets old. Au­gusta is Au­gusta and the Masters is the Masters. It’s pretty sweet.

“My first ex­pe­ri­ence ever play­ing the course was a sur­prise. I knew about the sever­ity of the greens but I think un­til you see it in per­son and you walk on them, I think is in­com­pa­ra­ble to any­thing you can see on TV.

“Un­til you go walk on 6 green and you hit that putt up that slope to that back hill and you re­alise how slow that is, or you get to 7 green and re­al­ize that the depth of that green is like the size of this ta­ble in front of me. It’s just lit­tle things like that that un­til you ac­tu­ally see it you don’t re­alise.”

HEN­RIK STEN­SON Masters de­but: 2006

“The first time around Au­gusta … it was hard. “There’s so many im­pres­sions and you know, it’s a beau­ti­ful place and so much to take in. Pos­si­bly the first cou­ple of years, you try and over pre­pare once you’re here. It’s a long week, if you’re com­ing in early and you’re play­ing all the prac­tice rounds and work hard on the range; and then by Thurs­day, you’re kind of, okay, is this when we’re go­ing to start.

The last five or six times now, I feel like I’ve been com­fort­able on the golf course. It is a very diŠcult golf course, es­pe­cially if the wind is up.

“But at the same time, it’s easy to give it too much re­spect some­times, too. So you’ve got to find that bal­ance, and I feel like I have that. Like I said, I’m just try­ing to make small ad­just­ments to give my­self a bet­ter chance to suc­ceed.”

ADAM SCOTT Masters de­but: 2002

“The first time I ex­pe­ri­enced Au­gusta was a week be­fore my first Masters, so ob­vi­ously it was very peace­ful out there.

“My first mem­ory was walk­ing on to the golf course side of the club­house and I couldn’t be­lieve how open the area was in front of us with the 18th green and the 9th green and then down in the val­ley there, which I be­lieve was the old range where

YOU KNOW, YOU COME TO AU­GUSTA AS MUCH AS YOU WANT, BUT ONCE YOU STEP ON THAT 1ST TEE AND IT’S THE FIRST HOLE OF THE MASTERS, IT’S A LIT­TLE DIF­FER­ENT. – RORY MCIL­ROY

they used to warm up a long time ago. Such a big, open area, I was sur­prised by that.

“I played a prac­tice round with Greg Nor­man, and we poured some wa­ter on the 16th green at the top and it rolled o the green, the wa­ter, trick­led; didn’t sink into the green at all. That was pretty scary.”

PHIL MICK­EL­SON Masters de­but: 1991

“My first Masters was in 1991. Ian Woos­nam won it. First thing I did when I qual­i­fied to play here af­ter win­ning the US Am­a­teur in ‘90 was to call Arnold Palmer and play a prac­tice round, and that was one of the high­lights for me, be­cause Doc GriŠn (Palmer’s long-time as­sis­tant) set it up and we were able to spend a Tues­day here at Au­gusta. Those are mo­ments that I’ll cher­ish.”

ANIR­BAN LAHIRI Masters de­but: 2015

“I think the first thing that hits you is how di er­ent it is from what you see on tele­vi­sion, be­cause that’s where I’ve seen Au­gusta. I’d never been here. So some of those tee shots, stand­ing on the tee are more than five yards wide. It some­times looks not even five yards wide when you look at it on tele­vi­sion, like stand­ing on the 18th tee, for in­stance.

“It’s just so di er­ent to ac­tu­ally be hit­ting those shots rather than watch­ing those shots. It’s quite di er­ent ob­vi­ously. It’s quite amaz­ing and it’s a great feel­ing.”

CRAIG STADLER Masters de­but: 1974

“My first Masters I was still an am­a­teur and I was paired on Thurs­day with Jack Nick­laus in a two­some at 2:45 or some­thing like that.

“Stay­ing up in the Crow’s Nest, got up about 7:00, read the pa­per, went out about 8:30, hit balls, took a shower, read the other pa­per, went out and putted, came back, had some­thing to eat and hit balls again.

“Long story short, I think I hit balls for the fourth time be­fore I could fi­nally go and walked up to the 1st tee and he was stand­ing there by the ta­ble. Walked up to the ta­ble and just as I went to in­tro­duce my­self, he turned around, I in­tro­duced my­self and he looked me right in the eye and he says, ‘Well, I know who ya are.’

“I just went, re­ally? This guy knows who I am? And I was done (laughs).

“As tra­di­tion goes here, past cham­pi­ons or cur­rent cham­pion tee o first. He teed o first, I teed o sec­ond, and I teed o sec­ond on ev­ery sin­gle hole. Didn’t beat him a hole, 67 to 79, we were done.”

TOM WAT­SON Masters de­but: 1970

“Well, when I played my first Masters in 1975, as a pro, when I kind of started hav­ing the game – I was just try­ing to make the cut when I first started out.

“Get­ting back to as an am­a­teur, I played as an am­a­teur in 1970. I had the cut pos­si­bly made. Shot 77 the first round and didn’t play very well. The sec­ond round, I think I had it a cou­ple un­der par go­ing into No.13. And I hit a drive around the cor­ner, just miles. I had a 6-iron to the green … 6-iron, birdie, three-un­der-par, the cut was 147. Now I’m un­der the cut.

“But I pushed it in the wa­ter and made 7. Made dou­ble. And I still hate that hole (laughs). I hate, hate do­ing that. It cost me when I was an am­a­teur mak­ing the cut here.”

RORY MCIL­ROY Masters de­but: 2009

“The night be­fore my first ever Masters round I was just ner­vous. I couldn’t sleep. It’s di er­ent.

“You know, you come to Au­gusta as much as you want, but once you step on that 1st tee and it’s the first hole of the Masters, it’s a lit­tle di er­ent. It seems like that bunker on the right gets big­ger and it seems like those trees on the left come in a lit­tle bit more and seems like the fair­way is non-ex­is­tent.

“But it’s a great feel­ing, just the rush, the thrill of play­ing in your first Masters.

“Luck­ily, I’ve been able to come back; they have let me in ev­ery year since, so that’s nice. I thor­oughly en­joy the week. No mat­ter if you win or lose, it’s one of the high­lights of the year.

“And that first tee shot … it is prob­a­bly the only first tee shot of a tour­na­ment these days that I still

get ner­vous at; the one that you get but­ter­flies and your heart races a lit­tle bit faster than it does usu­ally. So, yeah, still get that same feel­ing I did as a rookie back in 2009.”

PA­TRICK REED Masters de­but: 2014

“I got in early for my first Masters and played Satur­day and Sun­day, so I was to see how the golf course played com­pared to when I had a chance to play in col­lege (Au­gusta State Univer­sity). The only thing that seemed diƒer­ent was the greens were a lot firmer and a lot faster.

“The first drive down Mag­no­lia Lane was amaz­ing, that’s for sure. I wanted to re­verse and do it again (laughs) but I had to keep go­ing so I could get out there and prac­tice. Ev­ery time driv­ing down, you get a big smile on your face and you re­alise that this time it’s diƒer­ent be­cause the first three times I did it was as an am­a­teur and now I’m do­ing it as a pro­fes­sional play­ing at Au­gusta in the Masters.”

Masters de­but: 2017 TOMMY FLEET­WOOD

“My first time to Au­gusta was when I came to watch in 2014. I kind of came with the in­ten­tions of be­ing there the fol­low­ing year and fin­ished 51st in the world that year, so I just missed out.

“But watch­ing and play­ing is a com­pletely diƒer­ent – it’s very diƒer­ent and there was places I wanted to get to when I was watch­ing. Sort of the 12th green and 13th tee were the ones. When you’re watch­ing it, it’s so busy be­hind the 12th tee, and they look like the most tran­quil place on the planet and that’s where I re­ally wanted to get to. So hav­ing been there and played the holes, that’s been the big­gest mo­ment for me so far, ac­tu­ally get­ting to where I kind of en­vi­sioned my­self be­ing.

“Back in 2014 I just wanted to see it. I think who­ever you speak to just says not just how the golf course, but the sur­round­ings, the club, ev­ery­thing takes a lit­tle bit of get­ting used to. Au­gusta, it’s in ev­ery­body’s mind and ev­ery­body’s dreams and it’s just that place that you know that you want to go to, so it’s a lit­tle bit sur­real when you first go. I had a chance to go, and I thought, I’ll go, be­cause I just want to see what it’s like and when I do come, I might not be as awestruck.

“But it doesn’t quite work like that; when you get to the golf course, it’s still the same feel­ings.

“It doesn’t dis­ap­point when you ar­rive, and you drive down Mag­no­lia Lane. Like I say, the main things for me, my big­gest ex­cite­ment was walk­ing over the bridge to 12 and stand­ing on the 13th tee. Those were the two places when I watched I couldn’t get to and I was des­per­ate to get there. So those were my big­gest ... that’s what I was most ex­cited about.”

THE FIRST YEAR YOU GO TO AU­GUSTA, YOU’RE A BIT OF A TOURIST ... YOU GET THAT OUT OF YOUR SYS­TEM AF­TER YOUR FIRST YEAR OR SO – GE­OFF OGILVY

BEN CREN­SHAW Masters de­but: 1972

“My first Masters in 1972, I watched the Hon­orary Starters that year and it was Jock Hutchi­son and Fred­die McLeod. Fred­die McLeod won the 1908 US Open, and I think Jock won the 1921 Bri­tish Open and they were 88 and 86, re­spec­tively. That is one of my dear mem­o­ries … they hit it o† and went down the hill.”

JIMMY WALKER Masters de­but: 2014

“I think for any­body in their first time, this is a golf tour­na­ment that you’ve watched your whole ca­reer on TV.

“It’s prob­a­bly one of the first places that you go and you play it for the first time but you feel like you’ve played it quite a few times just from all the tour­na­ments you’ve watched and the shots; you get out into the fair­way, you’re like, oh, if I hit it up to the top left, it will feed to the top right. So you feel like you’ve seen a lot of the golf course with­out play­ing it.”

STEVE STRICKER Masters de­but: 1996

“It’s (The Masters) al­ways been from day one, when you got out on Tour, that this was the tour­na­ment that was most looked at in a way that you wanted to be a part of. It meant prob­a­bly the most when you qual­i­fied for it.

“I can re­mem­ber which tour­na­ment qual­i­fied me for this tour­na­ment. It was the ‘95 U.S. Open, I fin­ished high enough, I don’t know, 12th, I think and that qual­i­fied me for the ‘96 Masters.

“It’s a tough tour­na­ment to get into. It’s one that’s deep in his­tory and guys keep telling you, be­fore you even come here, how nerve wrack­ing, how in­tim­i­dat­ing some of this course can be. So this rep­u­ta­tion that it has, and it’s rightly so, I guess. It gets in your head, I think, at times.”

GE­OFF OGILVY Masters de­but: 2006

“The very first visit you ever have to Au­gusta is a pretty spe­cial visit.

“It’s just the whole mys­tique about the place. You’ve been look­ing for­ward your whole life just

to go­ing down Mag­no­lia Lane and see­ing the golf course and stu .

“I mean, that part is go­ing away, ob­vi­ously, once you’ve seen the course a few times and you’ve been here.

“I still love the place. I loved go­ing ev­ery year. I’d go for prac­tice rounds be­fore the tour­na­ment ev­ery time; partly be­cause I liked to pre­pare for the golf tour­na­ment, and in part mostly be­cause I just liked go­ing to Au­gusta. “The first year you go to Au­gusta, you’re a bit of a tourist, aren’t you, a lit­tle bit. You get that out of your sys­tem af­ter your first year or so.”

MATT KUCHAR Masters de­but: 1998

“My very first trip to Au­gusta was as a fresh­man at Ge­or­gia Tech. The team came ev­ery year, hosted by a cou­ple mem­bers, and so ex­cited. As a col­lege kid, you never iron clothes or pre­pare the night be­fore, but when you come to Au­gusta Na­tional, you iron clothes and you lay ev­ery­thing out the night be­fore. You just can’t wait for that morn­ing to come and make that drive down I 20 over to Au­gusta and sit out­side across the street from the en­trance and wait for the mem­ber to ar­rive so you can get in.

“It’s just one of those mag­i­cal mem­o­ries. I re­mem­ber play­ing and I re­mem­ber ev­ery hole seem­ing to go by so fast and all of a sud­den be­ing in the club­house hav­ing a cheese­burger and couldn’t be­lieve that the round was al­ready over.

“It still kind of goes by that way to me. It’s just one of those places where you have such an­tic­i­pa­tion for each up­com­ing hole, and then be­fore you know it, you fin­ish with a round and you just can’t be­lieve that you’re al­ready done with a round at Au­gusta Na­tional. It feels like you never want it to end.

“For my first Masters, I had so many re­ally cool ex­pe­ri­ences. Stay­ing in the Crow’s Nest is one of those things that you never for­get. I mean, col­lege is such a fun ex­pe­ri­ence, and it’s kind of like a glo­ri­fied col­lege dor­mi­tory ex­pe­ri­ence up in the Crow’s Nest. It’s tight quar­ters, but it’s with guys that have qual­i­fied as am­a­teurs.

“I re­mem­ber go­ing to the am­a­teur din­ner that

was hosted when I was play­ing by Char­lie Yates, who was a Ge­or­gia Tech grad­u­ate and had be­come a friend of mine. So to have a guy that I knew so well and had such re­spect for host the Am­a­teur din­ner gave me some com­fort straight­away. Had some great sto­ries.

“You fin­ish that am­a­teur din­ner, and you re­ally feel like this tour­na­ment is for you, as an am­a­teur. This is what it’s sup­posed to be. You feel like you can go out and win the tour­na­ment. It feels like this is – Bobby Jones de­signed it with am­a­teurs in mind, and they couldn’t wait to have some am­a­teurs have some real suc­cess.

“So it was ... I had so much ex­cite­ment, and so many great mem­o­ries. I re­mem­ber ev­ery day walk­ing up the 18th with Dad cad­dy­ing for me and kind of pulling back for a minute and just try­ing to soak it all in, kind of slow­ing down the walk as we got close to the 18th green say­ing, ‘can you be­lieve we played another round and made our a way around Au­gusta Na­tional and the Masters? Just try to en­joy ev­ery mo­ment.’

“There were great mem­o­ries, and ‘98, it was a long time ago, but it feels like yes­ter­day to me.”

MATT JONES Masters de­but: 2014

“The day we ar­rived in Au­gusta I had no idea where I was go­ing, so I had to fol­low (Kevin) Stadler, who I had stayed with the night be­fore, and he had to go to the cad­die area so I didn’t get to drive down Mag­no­lia Lane my first day. I did it the next day though.

“That first day I just walked into the club­house. It’s awk­ward when you don’t know where you’re go­ing be­cause ev­ery Tour event, you walk in and know ex­actly what you’re do­ing. So you walk around here, and I wasn’t quite sure where to go or what doors I could go in or out of.”

HIDEKI MAT­SUYAMA Masters de­but: 2011

“The first year when I came, I didn’t know any­thing about the course. Had no fear. No demons. Just went out and played.

“The sec­ond year … that was a big di•er­ence. I knew what was ahead and I knew the di–culty of the golf course. And each year since then, I’ve been able to learn a lit­tle bit more of how to play Au­gusta Na­tional.”

TIGER WOODS Masters de­but: 1995

“When I first came here as an am­a­teur, I got into Au­gusta late ... late night from a col­lege event, Ge­or­gia Tech was host­ing an event, I came into the course real late at 11 o’clock, what­ever it was. Mag­no­lia Lane, you could barely see it, it was dark.

“It is amaz­ing over the years that I’ve been here, just the feel­ings that you get when you come. It’s just a great feel­ing to be back, and to know that I’m go­ing to be com­ing back. It’s an even bet­ter feel­ing.

“I just re­mem­ber be­ing here as an am­a­teur and be­ing able to play prac­tice rounds with so many great cham­pi­ons; guys telling me where to hit it, what an­gles you want to have.

“But over the years, that’s changed. You don’t have those an­gles any­more be­cause you don’t get those lo­ca­tions be­cause the golf course has changed. But it is still fun to re­flect on those times.”

Adam Scott tees off for a prac­tice round with Greg Nor­man in 2002. Anir­ban Lahiri was struck by the dif­fer­ence be­tween what you see on TV and re­al­ity.

Craig Stadler watches Jack Nick­laus play first, again, dur­ing their round in 1974.

Tommy Fleet­wood first vis­ited Au­gusta as a spec­ta­tor be­fore mak­ing his de­but last year.

Rory McIl­roy was full of nerves play­ing his first hole in the Masters in 2009.

Tiger Woods play­ing his first Masters prac­tice round in 1995 along­side then World No.1 Greg Nor­man

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