Tough Grind: Amateurs Have Work
Cut Out At Masters
April 10, 2008
By Alex Davidson
Augusta, Ga. - The ability to find a kick at the finish
meant the difference between a good round and a
disappointing one for the three amateurs playing Thursday
in the 72
U.S. Amateur runner-up Michael Thompson played the final
four holes at Augusta National golf Club in one under par
and managed to card a 1-over 73 on a sunny, warm and calm
day. "I was pretty happy with what I did. I feel like
I did real well," said Thompson, a senior at the
University of Alabama who turns 23 years old next week.
Meanwhile, Trip Kuehne and Drew Weaver walked off
disappointed as each bogeyed the last hole to drop into the
second tier of the standings. Kuehne, winner of the 2007
U.S. Mid-Amateur and playing in his second Masters,
actually struggled in with bogeys on each of the last three
to shoot 78. Weaver, the British Amateur champion from High
Point, N.C., came home in 76.
The highlight of Thompson's round came at the ninth
when he holed a 30-foot putt for birdie. That offset three
bogeys on the outward nine and gave him a shot of
"It was awesome," said Thompson. "I was
hoping I'd make at least one long putt today, but it
was great that it came on 9, right in front of the
clubhouse and a whole bunch of people around out there. It
was an awesome feeling.
"The putt on 9 made me realize, 'Man, I can play
it with these guys. I can make putts out here.' It made
me feel like a pro when I made that putt. I raised my
putter up when it was about to go in, and everybody was
cheering and stuff."
A native of Tucson, Ariz., Thompson also heard a lot of
cheers of "Roll Tide" from the gallery in salute
to his Alabama ties, where he is an accounting major.
"There were more than I could count," he said,
For Kuehne, 35, of Dallas, he had too many shots to count.
"The way I played is not how I scored," said
Kuehne. "I made enough mistakes to last a lifetime. My
chili is running hot right now."
Kuehne missed the cut in the 1995 Masters and also can
count another Masters experience when he caddied for his
brother Hank, a former U.S. Amateur champion, in the 1999
Kuehne, a career amateur, is playing in what he said is his
last competitive tournament. "It's the perfect
place for me to go out, given that this is Bobby Jones'
place and what amateurs have meant to this
But he's not ready to go home just yet. "I have my
work cut out for me when I could have made it a little
easier, but I will go all out," he said.
On Thursday, he was accompanied the entire round by his
brother Hank, who has been sidelined by injury, and sister
Kelli, a three-time USGA champion. Both are now
"He was really close to playing well, but he put
himself on the wrong side of the hole in some places and
you can't do that," Hank said. "I know he is
frustrated, but he gave himself a lot of opportunities and
he has to do the same thing tomorrow."
"A few loose shots really cost me," Trip said.
Weaver, who had prepared thoroughly for Augusta with
numerous practice rounds in the last few months, chunked
his approach shot into 18 for a disappointing five after
getting a shot back with a near ace at the par-3 16
with an 8-iron that resulted in a tap-in birdie. Other
highlights included a big 10-foot par save at the first and
a par at the 13
when his ball skirted the hazard on the left but stayed
Still, the final hole stuck in his craw.
"I have no idea what happened on the second shot. I
hit it completely fat. There's no way to explain it, no
way to sugar coat it," said Weaver, 20, a senior at
Virginia Tech. "I think overall I ground hard, and 76
is OK. I think it was as bad as I could have shot today.
"You know, I'm glad that I have one round under my
belt. Glad that I played decent. You see a lot of guys come
out here and really, really struggle. But I feel like I
played solid - not good by any means, but it was overly bad
for my first round at the Masters."
Of course, his round Friday will have to be better. And
that's what he expects.
"It was a good first day, I think," said Weaver.
"I got a long ways to go tomorrow, but I feel OK about
the way I played. I'll go work on a few things, and see
about doing a little better in a few places."
Alex Davidson is a freelance writer whose work has
previously appeared on www.usga.org.