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54-Year-Old Amateur Living the Dream
Though he didn't score as well as he'd have like, Randal Lewis called playing in the opening round of the 2012 Masters a "dream come true."
On a tough scoring day for all the players, the 54-year-old amateur, who gained entry into the first major of the year by winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur last fall, posted a 9-over 81 that included five bogeys and two doubles. There was nary a birdie on his scorecard.
But the financial adviser from Alma, Mich., expressed nothing but appreciation for the chance to play a competitive round at Augusta National Golf Club. "There's nothing that can be bad about a sunny day at Augusta and the first round of the Masters," he said.
"I do have a great appreciation for it," added Lewis, who played a practice round with the great Tom Watson. "As I'm walking around here, I'm just trying to take in the scenery and all the sights of the crowds and just the beauty of the golf course. It's incredibly special. I'm very lucky to be able to experience something like this."
Even if he doesn't qualify for the weekend, which would require an incredible performance Friday to make the cut, Lewis will be leaving Georgia with more than wonderful memories. He and his family will return to Michigan with "enough Masters gear to last me 10 years," he quipped.
"I kind of joked with my wife, they're probably going to have to have security guards escort me out of here," he added. "It's just a place that you just want to be here as much as you possibly can."
Here's what else the life-long amateur had to tell reporters during a Q&A following his opening round.
Q. So what do you think? Was that the dream?
LEWIS RANDAL: It was fun. It was fun. I was disappointed I didn't drive the ball a little bit better, but I felt pretty comfortable out there. I was so nervous on the par 3 yesterday. I was like oh, my gosh, what's today going to be like. You know, I was a little nervous on the first tee, but after I hit that first tee shot I settled in. I didn't hit enough quality drivers to put myself into any kind of position to approach the greens. When I made misses, the misses weren't good.
Like on 11, I was aiming right at 12 green. I hit this big sweeping hook.
12, we just I didn't have we didn't quite have the right yardage. We kind of miscommunicated. I said I want the yardage to the middle, but I think we were looking at the yardage middle of the right portion. So I just tried to hit a just a real easy 6. I turned it over just a bunch. It was the wrong club.
Q. Do these conditions really hurt somebody like you? What do you hit it? 260?
LEWIS RANDAL: I probably fly it 245 to 250. A soft golf course doesn't help. I was hitting a lot of hybrids today in there. It's tough to come into these greens, you know, with hybrids with any kind of level of accuracy. I didn't happen to hit them particularly well. I hit a couple of good shots. On 10, I hit a great hybrid in there and I think on another hole I hit a good one, but it's a long golf course for me. So I putted really well. My score would have been higher if I hadn't been rolling it so good. I just wish I had given myself more chances for birdies, because I really had good feel today with the putter.
LEWIS RANDAL: It was fun, it was fun. Really nice. He's quiet, but that was fine. Because I'm we're all trying to tend to our business. Both guys were really good to play well. It was really fun.
Q. What was the best part of the day?
LEWIS RANDAL: Just the whole atmosphere, being on that first tee and playing with José Maria. This is just a dream come true. I mean, there's nothing what can be bad about a sunny day at Augusta in the first round the Masters.
Q. Is it surreal? Do you find yourself looking around and saying oh, my God, I'm at Augusta National?
LEWIS RANDAL: I do have an appreciation for it. I mean, as I'm walking around here, I'm just trying to take in the scenery and all the sights of the crowds and just the beauty of the golf course. It's incredibly special. Very lucky to be able to experience something like this.
Q. Is that your favorite 81 of all time?
LEWIS RANDAL: That's my all time favorite 81, without a doubt.
LEWIS RANDAL: I was nervous. I just wanted to get that out of the way. I have been thinking about that first tee shot for six months and it was like just please don't top it, don't pull hook it, just somehow get it in the fair and get moving.
LEWIS RANDAL: I hit it really good. Hit it right in the middle.
Q. What was the last nine like for you? Were you nervous?
LEWIS RANDAL: You know, actually, I slept really good. I was so nervous on the par 3, I just said this is kind of crazy. Just relax and enjoy it. So I was much more comfortable today. I think the par 3 I guess I was kind of a psyched up. Because everybody is so close to you. It's like you hit and people are like right here. It's like wow. It was fun.
Q. Your son Nick said he tracked down Jack after he hit the tee shot and talked to him a little bit?
LEWIS RANDAL: He said he was going to introduce himself.
Q. He did.
LEWIS RANDAL: He did? That's cool.
Q. He said it was a bit of a dream for him, too. Talk a little bit about naming him.
LEWIS RANDAL: He was you know, we were kind of struggling with a name if it was a boy and so we both liked my wife and I both liked the name Nick. I said well, then that's easy. Let's spell it like Jack's last name. We kind of subjected him to a life of misspelled first name. We thought that would be pretty cool because both my wife and I love the game and Jack was always my hero when I started playing. Actually, I won our Michigan amateur four weeks after he was born, so he's always brought me a little good karma.
Q. What was like to meet Jack?
LEWIS RANDAL: It was pretty neat. I've had chances to meet him before, but I was just not wanting to bug him. I know he gets inundated with people trying to introduce themselves. He was just making the turn out here and it was real quiet and the guys said, come on, you have got to meet him.
Q. What led you to the game?
LEWIS RANDAL: What's that?
Q. What led you to the game?
LEWIS RANDAL: Well, just kind of a fluke deal. Neither of my parents really played the game. I played a lot of baseball growing up. My dad just happened to be going out with somebody from work. My mom had an old set of clubs and he was going to play with somebody and he was out back hitting balls. I come home from baseball practice and I said let me try this. I was hitting them way better than he was. He said maybe I'll take you out and we'll play. I played the first time and I like this is pretty good. So that was pretty much the end of baseball and
Q. How old were you then?
LEWIS RANDAL: I was 16.
Q. 16, wow.
LEWIS RANDAL: I improved quickly though, but I played all day, every day. I went from like 76 for nine to, I think, 75 for 18 by the end of the season.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.