Tour & News

Masters Diary: Troy Merritt On Nearly Tearing Up On the First Tee

Day 1 of the 2016 Masters in 60 Seconds
SI GOLF digital development editor Jeff Ritter breaks down everything that happened during Round 1 of the 2016 Masters in 60 seconds.

AUGUSTA -- Well, I wasn't that nervous for my first Masters shot that counted, but I did almost tear up just a little bit when I heard my name called on the first tee. I was thinking: I can't believe I finally made it.

Then I piped it right down the fairway. I didn’t get all the way up the hill. I had 189 to the flag and hit a 5-iron right on it, but the ball flew about four paces past the hole and it went over the green and I made bogey.

Long story short: I shot 74, which wasn’t bad at all. We didn’t have a birdie in our group until Byeong-Hun An and I both birdied 13.

I drove it well. I missed four fairways but three were just in the first cut. I pulled one pretty badly on 17 but got it almost in the seventh fairway. I just had to hit it pretty high and hope it dropped on the green, and it did. My family followed me. Every now and then I’d hear something about Spring Lake Park High School on the north side of Minneapolis, or, “Go, Broncos.”

MORE: Read Troy Merritt's First Masters Diary

There were no big surprises. I watched the Masters for 25 years on TV. It was fun to play in it, though. It was fun to see the big crowds, and hear the roars. The Sligo guys and I had scripted out what to wear at the PGA Show at the end of January, so there were no big surprises there, either.

I knew that you’ve got to have the irons spot-on, and with the gusty, swirly winds that’s hard to do. And when I’m coming in with mid- to long-irons and other guys are coming in with mid- to short-irons, it’s tough.

Photo:

Troy Merritt show a 2-over-par 74 in his Masters debut.

I laid up on both 13 and 15. My wedge went over the green on 15, and I made bogey. I probably could have busted a 3-wood up there. I had 238 to the flag, but I could’ve hit a gust and come up short in the water, or gone long. So I tried to make birdie the old fashioned way, and that didn’t work, either. I had 93 yards and tried to hit a little 54-degree wedge but drove it right through the breeze; the ball landed hole high and went through the green. I was trying to hit it five or six paces short. I could have just swung easier, or hit a 58-degree wedge and hit it harder.

There were a lot of lessons on the 15th hole alone, but I bounced back with a 7-iron to 20 feet above the hole at 16 and drained the birdie putt.

Who knows what it’ll be like Friday? If it gets progressively tougher each day you’re maybe looking at 5 over, or the cut could be at 4 over. I’d love to shoot something under par to kind of get back into it.

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