2007 Masters: Amateurs take away some memories dispite an early exit
Augusta, Ga. | Late April 1, before the grounds of Augusta National were overrun by patrons and the players were run over by a golf course so slick that metal spikes made the week’s biggest comeback, as eclectic a combo as you’ll find on any reality TV show gathered in the Crow’s Nest atop the stately clubhouse.
Among those gathered in the no-frills billet were a Georgia insurance salesman, a Scottish caddie, a square-shouldered college senior plugging away at a marketing degree and a 23-year-old Hawaiian. Regardless of their divergent backgrounds, the foursome easily embraced the common bond of their surroundings. All the stories had a familiar, reverent feel to them; only the brogue or drawl changed.
“I wanted to do it (stay in the storied Crow’s Nest) at least one time,” said Dave Womack, a Georgia native who won the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur. “We just laid up there and thought, ‘Man, I’m at Augusta National.’ ”
None of the five amateurs made the cut. University of Missouri senior John Kelly came the closest, finishing at 10-over 154 after a pair of 77s. All, however, relished the week.
“When I walked on that tee (at No. 1 on Thursday), I got chills. I almost got a tear in my eye,” said Kelly, the only amateur to spend the entire week in the Crow’s Nest.
Kelly endured an embarrassing moment when he ventured down from his loft during the Tuesday night Champions Dinner.
“I was wearing a T-shirt and some gym shorts and I just kind of froze,” Kelly said. “I kept thinking, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’ ”
Although their scores and general reflections on the week varied, a common highlight was the experience they gained alongside some of the game’s best players. Ask one of the amateurs their impression of Masters week and you received a roll call of potent playing partners.
Womack played Monday with Charles Howell III, Davis Love III and Scott Verplank. The next day it was Phil Mickelson, Chris DiMarco and Arron Oberholser. Kelly played Tuesday with Jerry Pate and Ben Crenshaw, and Casey Watabu was paired with Tom Watson in Rounds 1 and 2.
“(Watson) knew where his ball was going to go each and every time. It was really amazing to watch,” said Watabu, the U.S. Amateur Public Links champion who carded rounds of 87-78.
For Richie Ramsay, the U.S. Amateur champion and former Royal Aberdeen caddie, his practice round with Phil Mickelson probably was more rewarding than his play Thursday and Friday.
Ramsay edged the defending champion in a friendly match when Mickelson three-putted the last hole. In Round 1, the Scot matched Mickelson with a 4-over 76, but a cold putter cut short his chances of becoming the first amateur to make the cut since 2005. Ramsay finished at 12 over.
British Amateur champion Julien Guerrier, the only amateur not to spend at least one night in the Crow’s Nest, finished at 20 over, followed by Watabu and Womack a stroke back.