Soaking It All In
U.S. Amateur Runner-Up Kelly
Relishing First Masters Experience
April 3, 2007
By Dan O'Neill
Augusta, Ga. - The actuality of John Kelly's Excellent Augusta
Adventure began to sink in on Sunday night when he used the
facilities, so to speak, at Augusta National Golf Club.
"You just think about who slept in your bed, who went to
the bathroom in the same toilet â€¦ well, that's kind of gross, but
you know what I mean," said Kelly of his first evening in
the Crow's Nest. "You know your walking in the same
footsteps of greatness. It's just really neat."
Be it personal hygiene or putting one foot in front of the
other, the bunkhouse that sits atop the clubhouse at Augusta
National is filled with history and ambiance, a place where
legends like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods snoozed in their first
appearances at Augusta.
Kelly, 22, a senior at the University of Missouri, is staying
in the Crow's Nest with three of the other four amateurs playing
in the Masters: Richie Ramsay, the Scotsman who defeated Kelly in
the U.S. Amateur final, U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Casey
Watabu and U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Dave Womack. British Amateur
champ Julien Guerrier, of France, made other arrangements.
|John Kelly is hoping for another
memorable week at the Masters like he had last August at the
U.S. Amateur. (USGA Photo Archives)|
Oddly enough, Kelly said he had no trouble sleeping in the
imposing environment. "I was surprised, but I slept pretty
well," he said. "I was really tired."
On Monday morning, Kelly had breakfast at the club and got
another jolt to his senses. "I had my grits and
bagels," said Kelly. "Then I looked over and there's
Phil Mickelson grabbing a bite to eat. It was cool. Just so many
things like that about being here, it's unbelievable."
Kelly played nine holes of a practice round with 2006 Ryder
Cup member Vaughn Taylor on Monday. Taylor, an Augusta, Ga.,
native, quit after nine, but Kelly finished the round and nearly
had a hole-in-one at No. 16. He was slated to play with two-time
Masters champion Ben Crenshaw on Tuesday.
"I think it was good for him, actually, to play by
himself," said Rob Sedorcek, a St. Louis teaching pro who is
on hand to watch his protegÃ©. "It gave him a chance to
really practice some shots and gather his thoughts. If he can
keep it straight, he should be fine. The guys with the measuring
devices told me he had one of the longest shots all day at No. 14
and Nos. 17 and 18."
On one hand, the challenge for the St. Louis native this week
is intimidating. No amateur has ever won the Masters, and few
make the cut for the weekend. Since 2000, just eight of the 34
amateurs that have earned invitations at Augusta have stuck
around for the weekend. On the other hand, Kelly can't lose.
"It's a little bit of both," he said. "The
competitive side of me wants to play and beat the heck out of
these guys. Then there is the other side that says, 'Hey, up to
this point in my life, this is the coolest thing to ever happen
to you.' So I want to make sure I take it all in and just enjoy
In addition to his parents and Sedorcek, Kelly's gallery
includes Missouri golf coach Mark Leroux. Flooded with caddie
offers, Kelly finally chose friend Barr Blanton to carry his bag
this week. A former player at Wake Forest, Blanton lives in St.
"I had a lot of people to choose from," Kelly said.
"But I've known Barr for a long time from playing golf and I
think he'll be a big help. We're just going to go out and have a
good time with it."
Dan O'Neill is a freelance writer whose work has appeared