Amateurs Miss Masters Cut;
Kuehne Says So Long
April 11, 2008
By Alex Davidson
|After finishing his round Friday at
the Masters, Trip Kuehne, right, gave his father,
Ernie, a hug, just as he did after winning the U.S.
Mid-Amateur last year. (Steve Gibbons/USGA)|
Augusta, Ga. - Two men couldn't help but cry. A
third couldn't lie. All three amateurs who competed in
the 72nd Masters didn't make the cut, but they all
could leave with their heads held high.
Trip Kuehne, Michael Thompson and Drew Weaver all had their
little moments of glory, but in the end they couldn't
find enough strokes to stay around for two more days at
Augusta National Golf Club. On a sunny but increasingly
breezy day, Kuehne shot 72, Thompson 78 and Weaver 80 as
the trio made up the smallest amateur contingent at the
Masters since 1942.
Kuehne, the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, took his
disappointment the hardest. Playing in his last competitive
tournament, the investment fund manager from Dallas cried
openly in the arms of his father, Ernie Kuehne, outside the
scorer's hut after a gutsy even-par 72 left him three
strokes shy of qualifying for the weekend.
"I'm sad it's over," said Kuehne, 35, who
also played in the 1995 Masters and missed the cut.
"All I wanted was an opportunity on the back nine here
to make the cut, and I had it and just didn't quite get
it done. It was a hell of a ride, but I guess this is the
way it ends. I think this is the way you're supposed to
Kuehne gave himself a chance after he eagled the par-5 13
hole, hitting a 6-iron to within inches of the hole for a
"It was, you know, 13's my lucky number,"
said Kuehne, "and to eagle 13 to get a piece of
crystal and to have what I always dreamed about - to play
the last few holes under the same circumstances that the
guys competing to win the Tournament - that was great.
"I thought the stars were aligning, but unfortunately
the rug got pulled out right from underneath me at a time
that I didn't think it would."
Kuehne converted pars at 14 and 15, but his demise came at
16 when his three-quarter 9-iron was pushed right of the
green. With the hole tucked on the left, he couldn't
get it close and three-putted for a double bogey. "It
was just a bad shot at the wrong time," he said.
Weaver, 20, the Virginia Tech University senior who was the
surprise winner of the British Amateur, also had tears in
his eyes after bogeying the first two holes and struggling
for much of the afternoon. Despite several practice rounds
leading into the week, he couldn't find a groove,
recorded just one birdie in two days, and made nothing on
Friday in shooting the day's second highest score.
"I just got off to a rough start," said the
accounting major from High Point, N.C., who now has to
prepare for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, where
the Hokies are co-defending champions. "It's a
difficult golf course and if you start hitting it off line
you're going to have some trouble. And this really
wasn't my day. It's not like I didn't try or
anything; it kind of didn't happen today."
"Obviously a major championship is physically and
mentally draining and, I mean, I'm exhausted,"
Weaver said. "I spent quite a long time getting ready
for this and just it's kind of tough to see it come to
an end, but what can you do?"
Thompson, the U.S. Amateur runner-up, was asking that
question as well after suffering a bit of bad fortune.
Grinding to make the cut, he was addressing a birdie putt
on the par-5 15th hole when his ball moved. Because he had
grounded his club, he was deemed to have caused the ball to
move and had to call a one-shot penalty on himself. He
ended up with a bogey. Then he bogeyed the next two holes.
"It definitely affected me," said Thompson, 23, a
senior at the University of Alabama. "It really turned
my round, turned the momentum against me. It was very
unfortunate, but I'm sure it's happened many a time
before here. These greens are super fast."
Thompson never hesitated to call the penalty. He once had
to do the same thing in a high school match.
"He handled himself beautifully," said two-time
Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, who played two days with
Thompson and Nick O'Hern of Australia. "I turned
away. I was trying to get out of his line when he was
putting. But he claimed that he grounded the club. And it
was at a very critical juncture too. Because he had hit a
beautiful approach shot in there. He's looking at
birdie, and he knows he's right on the cut line too.
"But that is unfortunate. When the greens get this
fast, a little gust of wind can move the ball. But I
didn't see him ground the club. But he said he did. I
tell you what, that boy is going to go a long way. He
is a really good player. He's a great kid too.
That's so unfortunate to happen at that moment."
Said Thompson with a shrug: "That's just the part
that brings out the best in people and also brings out the
worst when people don't obey the rules. It's just a
part of any game. You've got to follow the rules,
especially out here in front of all these people. I
don't want to create a bad image about myself, and
that's just something that you just have to do."
Kuehne felt strongly about what he thinks he has to do, and
he said he has no intention of changing his mind about
leaving competitive golf. He leaves on his own terms and on
"I had a great time - a 35-year-old working man, I was
inside the ropes and had a chance to make the cut at the
Masters, and I was two under par and you know, at the end
of the day, now my last round of golf is 72 at Augusta
National, even par at a major.
"To have an opportunity to play the weekend in the
Masters tournament, that was all I ever wanted in life was
to have that opportunity again. And to share it with my
family and close friends that have encouraged me to push on
with golf and to win that USGA event, and they're all
here to share it with me, and I gave myself quite a thrill.
I think I gave them a thrill too. That's what I'll
Not a bad way to go.
Alex Davidson is a freelance writer whose work has
appeared previously on www.usga.org.