AUGUSTA, Ga. (April 11, 2013) -- If Michael Weaver has felt like he had to pinch himself at all over the last few days to realize he was at Augusta National Golf Club preparing to become the first current Cal golfer to ever play in the Masters, the experience became even more real Wednesday when he played a practice round with Rory McIlroy.
A logical question would be how did this happen.
How did the Cal junior wind up playing a practice round at Augusta National Golf Club on the eve of the Masters with the 2012 PGA Tour Player of the Year and leading money winner who spent much of last season as the world’s top-ranked player.
Although it never would have happened had Weaver not finished as the runner-up at the U.S. Amateur last August that earned him an invitation to the 2013 Masters, it also would probably have never happened without some fortitude on Weaver’s end.
“I just went up to him and said ‘Hey, Rory, how’s it going,” Weaver explained. “I asked him if he was playing today and he said yes. I asked him if he had room for me. He said it was cool and that was basically that. We went off and played, and it was awesome.”Weaver went on to describe the experience.
“We spoke quite a bit, not really anything specific to the tournament or the course, but it was more social and just having a good time,” Weaver said. “He was really personable and engaging.”
Weaver was especially impressed that McIlroy knew who Weaver was when he introduced himself to him. McIlroy told Weaver that he had watched the U.S. Amateur final.
“Here’s one of the top-ranked players in the world and he’s watching the U.S. Amateur final with a bunch of college kids,” Weaver said. “That was pretty cool. He knew what I’d done and why I was there.”Weaver also got to partake in one of the coolest practice-round traditions at the Masters with McIlroy at the 16th hole when players are encouraged by thousands of spectators to try to skip their tee shots off the pond and onto the green.
“If you don’t actually try to skip it, they’ll boo you,” Weaver said with a laugh. “If you get it across and onto the green, they’ll go nuts. It’s a tradition here and fans get excited about it.”
Weaver said he put his shot a few feet off the green but couldn’t remember if McIlroy’s shot got over the water.
“I think he might have caught the bank,” Weaver said.
After his morning excursion with McIlroy, Weaver participated in the 2013 Masters Par 3 Contest, finishing tied for 30th at three-over par in a contest that is more about the amount of fun that can be had rather than the number of strokes on the scorecard.
Although he is trying to soak it all in, most of his preparation this week at Augusta has been much more serious than skipping balls across a pond or playing in par-three contests. Weaver believes he is ready to shoot for his goals of making the cut and finishing as the top amateur.“I feel pretty good about how I’m playing,” Weaver said. “I feel like I have a good game plan for the course. I’m ready to go for tomorrow.”
Weaver will play first and second-round action with 1982 Masters champion Craig Stadler and Ben Curtis. The threesome will tee off for first-round action Thursday at 8:18 a.m. PT. On Friday, the group will start their second round at 5:11 a.m. PT. On both days, online video coverage on Masters.com begins at 7:45 a.m. PT, while ESPN’s televised coverage starts at Noon PT. ESPN will replay three hours of its coverage each night at 5 p.m. PT, while CBS has a 15-minute highlight show from 11:30 – 11:45 p.m. PT. See schedule below for a full list of radio, television and online coverage of the 2013 Masters.The next set of pairings and tee times for Saturday’s third round will be announced after the cut following the completion of second-round action Friday.
Weaver is a junior on the No. 1-ranked Cal men’s golf team and the first Cal golfer to play at the Masters while a current member of the team. Weaver earned an invitation to the 2013 Masters by finishing as the runner-up at the 2012 U.S. Amateur last August. He is currently ranked No. 21 nationally in the collegiate ranks by Golfweek and No. 22 according to Golfstat. Weaver has five top-10 collegiate finishes in 2012-13, including his top showing of the season when he tied for second at the PING/Golfweek Preview. He has a career-best 71.6 stroke average over 27 rounds during the 2012-13 collegiate season.
A schedule of remaining key 2013 Masters events throughout the week and radio/television/online coverage follows.