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Augusta Diary: Masters debutant rises to occasion while Bryson DeChambeau blazes leaderboard trail

Former US amateur runner-up’s steer from Jack Nicklaus; Major entry for minor money; inaugural year for those sunnies; wind-worn Cameron Davis; and Bryson DeChambeau’s 3-D club angle

Sharp Shipley makes the cut

You couldn’t accuse Neal Shipley of being the shy, retiring type ... but the US amateur runner-up, who asked none other than Jack Nicklaus for some tips on how to play the course, benefited from his prep work in making the cut on his Masters debut.

Shipley doesn’t come from a golfing family. It was while watching the US PGA Championship — won by Vijay Singh — in 2004 that he got hooked on the game, got his father’s clubs out of the cupboard, dusted them off and, the rest, as they say, proved to be history.

“I took his golf clubs over, which were dusty and probably never used, and started swinging around. I decided to get me my own little set and kind of took off from there. I kind of credit Vijay for getting me into it, which is pretty cool and I think a different story,” said Shipley who, with rounds of 71-76 for 147 to survive into the weekend.

Shipley made his introduction to childhood hero Singh on meeting him earlier this week and touched the Golden Bear for his advice, but it was his pre-tournament visits that enabled him to map out how to play the course.

“We did five practice trips, that’s allotted for an amateur. I did like 36 or 27 (holes) every time out here. So I think it was something in the neighbourhood of 140. I had a lot of work on the golf course, and I think that’s one of the reasons I feel really comfortable. Mike Weir’s caddie asked me, coming up 18, ‘how did you get to know the golf course so quickly?’ Well, I just took some good notes, and also talking to Jack Nicklaus doesn’t hurt,” said Shipley, a student at Ohio State, who has his eyes on the amateur prize.

Entry price … $100

Although a ticket to the Masters is one of the most exclusive in global sport, it is also one where anyone can apply and have the chance of getting to Augusta National for an entry price that won’t break the bank.

Augusta National Golf Club — who run the tournament — organises an annual online public lottery with the selection process offering tickets to the Masters, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the junior Drive, Chip and Putt competition.

Next year’s Masters — the 89th edition — is scheduled to take place in the week from April 7th-13th and the ticket application for tickets opens around the first week of June with registration required. Hopeful attendees may apply for multiple days but will only be eligible to secure tickets for one day, limited to one per household.

Tickets for successful applicants to this year’s practice days acquired through the lottery cost $100 (€94)!

Solar shades

The week started with patrons getting free solar sunglasses — of the disposable type but guaranteed to be a keepsake given the significance of the eclipse — on entry into the grounds.

But the sunglasses theme has been continued in the outlier merchandise stands located around the course, with branded Goodr shades sold as a new item to golf fans.

The sunglasses have different coloured lenses and frames. A white pair is called “The Caddie” while yellow glasses are called “The Flag” while the “Hogan Bridge” and “Azalea” feature floral designs and there is even a set named “Peaches Ice Cream” after one of the most popular items on sale in the food and beverage concessions.

Many of the sunglasses — in their inaugural year of being sold at the tournament — sold out by Thursday (retailing at $39).

Quote-unquote

“I feel like I put in my hard work. I’m happy to put my feet up this afternoon.” — Australian Cameron Davis after battling the wind to sign for a second-round 72 to add to his opening 69 for 141 and positioned inside the top 10 at the business end of the leaderboard.

By the numbers: 3-D

Bryson DeChambeau — also known as The Scientist — is playing with a custom set of single-length irons made by club maker Avoda that are made by 3-D printing and were approved for use by the USGA only last Monday.

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