Note: The following appears in the May issue of Orange: The Experience. For full access to all of the publication’s content, join IPTAY today by calling 864-656-2115.
Doc Redman’s start of Masters week was a little spooky. At least it seemed that way when he talked about spending his first night at the world’s most famous golf tournament in the Crow’s Nest at the top of the clubhouse…alone.
“There are four bedrooms in the Crow’s Nest, but none of the other amateurs were there Sunday night, so when Jordan (Byrd) left after dinner, I was all by myself,” said Redman, who became the eighth Clemson student to play in The Masters last month.
“It is not a big area. The rooms are small and there aren’t any doors on the room. That is why I decided to stay there just Sunday night. If you are up there with a snorer, you don’t get a lot of sleep.”
One thing Redman did take advantage of was to look at all the memorabilia in the Crow’s Nest.
“It is amazing to see all the pictures and the history and to realize the great players who stayed there when they were amateurs.”
Redman enjoyed the experience, but he stayed off the course the rest of the week with Byrd, as he wanted to assure he got his rest leading up to the tournament.
Redman got a good night’s sleep on Sunday and was ready for a full day of practice on Monday. The highlight of the day was playing a practice round with José María Olazábal and his fellow countryman Rafael Cabrera-Bello. Olazábal won The Masters in 1994 and 1999, and Cabrera-Bello, who had played in two previous Masters, got his invite by finishing fourth at the 2017 British Open.
“I didn’t set up any practice rounds ahead of time because I wanted to play at a time that worked with my schedule,” said Redman. “What a lot of people do is to find someone to play with when they get to the range, and that is what I did. Jordan helped out with that process.
“So when we got to the range, we sought out people who wanted to play around noon, and when we asked José María Olazábal, he said ‘sure’.”
At first, Redman thought he might not get a lot of advice from his playing partners because they were speaking Spanish to each other.
“The first couple of holes, Doc had no idea what they were saying because they were speaking Spanish,” said Byrd, whose brother, Jonathan, has played in four Masters.
“I told Doc I thought they were nice guys and would be helpful, but I told him he would have to ask questions to get them to speak English.”
Redman did just that a few holes into the practice round.
“They were great,” stated Redman. “I can see it is always good to play a practice round with a past champion, because they all know the course so well. José María gave me a lot advice.
“Coach Byrd had told me that there is no sport like golf when it comes to your competitors being open and honest with you about strategy. That was certainly the case at Augusta.”
Tuesday was another day of practice in the morning, then another practice round, this time with Jason Dufner and Patton Kizzire. Both had played at Auburn.
“Patton and I played in the tournament at Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational three weeks prior). We were both Masters rookies and Jason gave us advice on where to hit approach shots based on the pin placements.”
Redman played the front nine with Dufner and Kizzire. He played holes 10-14 by himself, then went to the 17th tee, where he caught up with Rickie Fowler.
“That was a highlight for me because I have always looked up to Rickie Fowler. We only played two holes together, but it is something I will remember. I have always had a lot of respect for his game and the way he carries himself.”
One of the great Masters traditions takes place on Wednesday afternoon for the Par 3 Contest. Augusta National Golf Club has a separate par-three course that is away from the championship course. Unless you go to the tournament on Wednesday, you will never see it.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the event is that the competitors are allowed to have a family member or friend serve as their caddie. Redman asked his 14-year-old sister, Karma, to carry his bag.
“Karma doesn’t play golf or follow it much, so she was a little nervous before we started being in front of all the people. We went to the caddie area to get her caddie suit, and it was so much fun to see all the little kids dressed in their suits.
“We played with Dustin Johnson and Pat Perez in the Par 3 Contest, and they were great. Karma got used to everything and even made two putts for me. After the second putt, I told her that was it…she needed to quit while she was ahead.”
That was a brother and sister memory that will last the rest of their lives.
All the practice was over by Thursday morning, as the first round of the 82nd Masters began in crisp and sunny conditions.
“I got to the course about two hours and 15 minutes before my tee time (10:53 a.m.). I had breakfast in the locker room, then went through my normal routine that I do for any tournament.”
Except he had a few amenities he took advantage of.
“The first thing I did was go to the stretching trailer to get loose. I then went to the putting green, then to the chipping area before going to the range to hit balls. Then I went back to the putting green next to the first tee for a few last putts.”
I was there on Thursday, and the atmosphere was electric. It just so happened that the group in front of Redman’s featured Tiger Woods. It was wall-to-wall people.
When the Woods group went down the first fairway, it didn’t seem like that many people left the first-tee area. There were many Clemson fans there to see Redman, but he was playing with world No. 2 player and reigning PGA champion Justin Thomas, and defending Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who was ranked No. 9 in the world.
“I was nervous, but not crazy nervous,” recalled Redman a week after the tournament.
Redman was third in his group to tee off.
“Fore, please, Doc Redman now playing.”
Redman took a conservative approach on that first hole, opting to hit a fairway wood instead of a driver. The result was a shot right down the middle.
“That helped a lot that I hit a good shot with the first drive. Then I hit a good shot to the green and had an eight-footer for birdie.”
His birdie putt rimmed out, but he had a tap-in par for his first Masters hole.
His good start continued over the first five holes. In fact, on each of the first four holes, he was closest to the pin on the green. He made his first Masters birdie when he made a five footer on the third hole. Again it was a hole he played conservatively, as he hit an iron off the tee on the par four, but his second shot was right at the stick.
As the group got to the par-three fourth tee, there was a backup in play. The three players stood together at the tee box. The discussion turned to football.
“Justin went to Alabama and Sergio just moved with his wife to Austin, Texas. She is a Texas graduate. So, Sergio was joining in the conversation and telling us how he is getting more and more into college football. He went to a few Texas games this year. Of course, Justin and I talked about the recent Clemson and Alabama rivalry.”
Back to the course, Redman again won the closest-to-the-pin contest on four and made par. He also made par on the fifth hole.
At one under par through five holes, his name was on the leaderboard.
Redman hit a rough stretch on holes 8-11, as he bogeyed three of the four holes to fall to three over par. But he regained his momentum on the 12th hole with a par.
After hitting his drive close to Rae’s Creek on the left of the fairway on the 13th hole, he struck a six iron 195 yards to within eight feet of the pin on the par-five hole, giving him a good look at eagle. He missed the 10-foot putt, but made a tap-in for the birdie.
Redman made par on 14 by getting up and down from just off the back of the green, then got up and down from in front of the green for par on 15. Redman and thousands of fans watched in disbelief as the defending champion (Garcia) hit five consecutive balls in the water in front of the green to make a 13 on the hole.
Witness to Garcia’s experience seemed to affect the other two players. Redman three-putted the 16th hole from 10 feet and made bogey from the bunker in front of the green on 17 to fall to four over par. He made a par on the 18th hole, something that eluded many golfers on Thursday.
“Today was a lot of fun,” said Redman after the round to the media gathered near the famous large tree behind the 18th green. “But this was not the result I wanted. I think I threw away a good round, and that was frustrating.
“I was pretty nervous on the first hole, but I was able to lock in and hit a pretty good first shot. I think that made a difference. I was comfortable from then on. Overall, I don’t think nerves were a factor.
“I hit some good shots to the green on the first three holes and should have been three under par for the first three holes. But, I just didn’t make the putts.”
Starting at 1:38 p.m., on Friday with Thomas and Garcia, Redman again played well on the front nine, shooting a one-over-par 37 for the second straight day. As he played the 10th hole, he was at five over for the tournament, which would turn out to be the cutline.
But he again had some problems early on the second nine and finished with a five-over-par 77. His 153 total for 36 holes was 69th in the field of 87 golfers, missing the cut by four shots.
A bit disappointed that he did not make the cut, especially after he had made the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Redman still realized it was a great experience.
“It was a fantastic experience. That course is in perfect shape and it was an honor to play in The Masters.
“It is a course that has so many subtle challenges, and if you hit it to the wrong place on the green, it can be very penal. There are some places that are very difficult to get up and down from just off the green.”
Redman will have many lasting memories from his week at Augusta.
“I will always remember that opening tee shot on Thursday. I will always remember my sister caddying for me. I will always remember meeting Rickie Fowler and how genuinely helpful everyone was, including all the players.
“I also learned how important experience is in playing that course.”
The way Redman performed on this grandest of all stages among the best players in the game, he will have another opportunity to gain more experience at The Masters.