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 … 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 protegé. "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 the moment."

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. Louis.

"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 previously on

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image