AUGUSTA, Ga. – How does a player – especially an amateur making his Masters debut – arrange a practice round with Tiger Woods at Augusta National? Just ask. It worked for T.J. Vogel, the U.S. Amateur Public Links champion.
Vogel set up the pairing with Woods when he saw him at Augusta National two weekends before the Masters began, scheduling it for the following weekend. When Vogel returned to Augusta National and saw Woods on the driving range, “I went up to him, introduced myself and was like, ‘You ready?’
“He said, ‘Let’s do it. We have to wait for Strick (Steve Stricker), though.’ I wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity. It’s once-in-a lifetime.”
Woods’ advice to Vogel? “He told me to be patient and slow down,” Vogel said. “The week goes by very fast.” Vogel said he’s been hitting his clubs “ridiculously far” because he’s so excited for the week.
Vogel played with Stricker again Tuesday in a foursome that also included Fred Couples and Jim Furyk. A patron asked Vogel on the 18th tee, “Are you beating these old guys?” Stricker holed a 50-foot birdie putt on the final hole to help that happen. His long putt helped the Stricker-Vogel team clinch victory over Couples and Furyk.
“It was so much fun,” Vogel said. “Tiger is my idol, but gosh, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Freddie Couples. They’re right there.”