Newman closes strong at Augusta
Thursday, April 9, 2009
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tough to blame Jack Newman for having a few first-tee jitters Thursday at the Masters.
“I was unbelievably scared on the first tee,” Newman said. “But after a couple bogeys, I got more fired up than nervous.”
After opening with bogeys on two of his first four holes, the Michigan State junior closed with birdies on four of his last five at Augusta National to shoot even-par 72.
At T-39, he was low amateur on Day 1.
Newman, the U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, was 4 over after 10 holes, then birdied Nos. 11, 14-16 and 18 to shoot 3 under on the back nine. He hit 12 greens and 10 fairways playing alongside Fred Couples (73) and Rocco Mediate (73).
“One round doesn’t mean too much, but I’m feeling pretty good,” Newman said.
So how did he prepare for his first round at the Masters?
“Played some cribbage last night,” said Newman, who stayed in the Crow’s Nest earlier in the week before moving into a house with his family. “My record is 2-and-2.”
Drew Kittleson, on the other hand, was surprised by his emotions on the first tee.
“I wasn’t crazy, couldn’t-tee-it-up nervous,” he said. “I thought I would be, but it wasn’t that bad.”
Nerves or not, Kittleson, a sophomore at Florida State, shot 6-over 78 and was tied for 91st, ahead of just four players. The U.S. Amateur runner-up bogeyed his first hole, birdied No. 2, then ripped off seven consecutive pars to make the turn at even.
But then Augusta bit back.
Kittleson made four bogeys, two double bogeys and two birdies to close with 42 on the back nine. His first par didn’t come until No. 17. In total, he hit eight greens and nine fairways. Still, Kittleson kept perspective.
“It was exciting,” he said. “I wish I could have played better. But it was everything I’d thought it would be.
“I had some errant shots, and it’s tough to do that out here.”
Playing with Kittleson was Larry Mize, the 1987 Masters champion. Mize shot 67 and was tied for fourth.
Other amateurs at Augusta: Steve Wilson, the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, is T-93 after a 79. British Amateur champ Reinier Saxton shot 75 and is tied for 75th. Danny Lee, who is turning pro after the Masters, shot 74.