AUGUSTA, Ga. — When I found John Fields near the first tee at Augusta National on Wednesday, I asked the Longhorns golf coach about the draws of his pupils in their opening rounds of Masters play.
“I love ’em,” Fields said.
“All of them,” the coach answered.
Fields has reason to be flush with excitement before Thursday’s first round. His Texas Longhorns will be out in full force here.
Texas has four golfers in the 87-man field, giving the Masters the second-strongest contingent here. Only Arizona State, with five qualifiers — three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson, Pat Perez, Chez Reavie, Paul Casey and No. 3 in the world Jon Rahm — outnumbers the Longhorns.
Georgia also has four in the field with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, Dell Match Play star Kevin Kisner, Brian Harman and Russell Henley.
- Jhonattan Vegas has the honors as the first Longhorn to tee off, starting at 7:41 a.m. Austin time in a threesome with Masters champion Ian Woosnam and Ryan Moore.
- Dylan Frittelli goes off next at 8:03 along with Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal and Kevin Chappell.
- Doug Ghim, who qualified as the U.S. Amateur runner-up, will join Scotland’s Sandy Lyle and Korean Si Woo Kim at 10:37. Ghim’s parents are Korean.
- Finally, 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth tees off at 12:49 p.m. with Oklahoma State ex Alex Noren and South African Louis Oosthuizen.
Frittelli had the first hole-in-one on the eighth hole of the Par-3 Tournament. As his tee shot backed into the hole, he leaped into the air. He got a hug from playing partner and former Longhorns great Ben Crenshaw, then threw up a Hook ’em Horns sign.
His parents are on hand from Johannesburg, South Africa, to watch Dylan’s first Masters appearance.
“Dylan gets in a little bubble, a shell before he plays,” his mother, Jenni, said outside the Member Pro Shop. “He’s very focused.”
She and her husband Ray will walk the course and follow Dylan on Thursday. His sister, Carlyn, and Dylan’s 2-year-old nephew, Alastair, will try to keep up for a while. Dylan bought him cut-down clubs including a short Scotty Cameron putter, but the curly-haired Alastair went straight for Dylan’s regulation clubs.
So can Dylan win?
“Absolutely,” Jenni said. “They’re all so confident. Dylan’s crazy fit, too.”
News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to Statesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.