AUGUSTA, Ga. – Brad Dalke will join exclusive company when he tees off in the 89th Masters on Thursday.
Dalke, a sophomore at Oklahoma who earned his invite to Augusta National via last year’s U.S. Amateur runner-up finish, will be among a handful of players to compete in a college event the weekend before playing in the Masters.
Dalke is the first since Oklahoma State’s Jordan Niebrugge tied for 30th at the 2014 Aggie Invitational in College Station, Texas, before quickly catching a flight to Augusta. Niebrugge, the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, missed the cut.
But Dalke doesn’t have to travel as far as Niebrugge did. The Sooners are in Augusta this weekend competing in the 3M Augusta Invitational. Dalke is the first to play the “Augusta double” since Oklahoma State’s Hunter Mahan tied for 11th at Forest Hills Golf Club in 2003. Mahan tied for 28th at Augusta National a week later. (Virginia Tech’s Drew Weaver actually played both events in 2008, but the college tournament was played at Champions Retreat in Evans, Ga.)
“There definitely was a thought (of not playing) just because I didn’t want to wear myself out,” Dalke said. “Coach (Ryan) Hybl reeled off a couple of names. He said there’s a few that played in the tournament right before the Masters and still played pretty well. The guys on the PGA Tour, a bunch of them are still playing at the Shell Houston Open.
“I think I’ll have plenty of adrenaline for the physical side of things.”
Dalke, who opened the weekend with rounds of 76-75, closed his tournament with a 6-under 66. Not a bad way to enter his first major start.
“It’s nice to get some competitive rounds in today,” Dalke said, “and it was nice to finish on a good one today.”
Dalke planned on heading to Augusta National later Sunday afternoon to register. He will then set up shop with about 20 family members and friends (Dalke is one of seven children to Bill and Kay Dalke) at a rented house in nearby Aiken, S.C.
He has a practice round planned for Monday morning with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson – and his Oklahoma teammates and coaches will be there to watch. It will be Dalke’s first practice at Augusta National in about three weeks. Last month, he took his second visit since qualifying with his instructor Joey Wuertemberger.
“Been shooting some good numbers out there,” Dalke said, “and I feel really comfortable on the course.”