Australian Jasper Stubbs won close to home, and now he's at The Masters
09 Apr 2024
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

see also: The Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club, Jasper Stubbs Rankings

Jasper Stubbs won the 2023 Asia Pacific Amateur. (The Masters)
Jasper Stubbs won the 2023 Asia Pacific Amateur. (The Masters)

Jasper Stubbs’ Master's memories include Monday morning wake-up calls in Australia. In 2011, his father woke him up before school to see if one of three Australians in the hunt at Augusta National could get it done. Charl Shwartzel sullied the day with four birdies on the final four holes to edge out Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, and Jason Day.

Two years later, Stubbs was up again to watch an Australian; this time, Adam Scott won the Masters in a playoff over Angel Cabrera.

“I watched a lot of golf that weekend,” Stubbs said. “having to go to school on that Monday morning was pretty annoying.”

The Masters ends around 9 am in Melbourne, so Stubbs missed Scott’s win. He had to get to school.

“I've got a memory there where Mom called up the school and got the receptionist to announce to the entire school over the PA that Adam Scott had just won the Masters, so I would know,” Stubbs said. So that's a pretty big memory that sticks in my head.”

This week, Stubbs will get to see the course that’s 9,800 miles from his home in person as he tees it up in his first Masters.

He punched his ticket a lot closer to home in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship when he faced down Sampson Zheng and Wenyi Ding at Royal Melbourne, just two miles from where Stubbs grew up. While Augusta National is far from home, Stubbs has plenty of Australians in his rolodex who have teed it up in the season’s first major.

Jasper Stubbs travels two miles from home to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur
Stubbs and Green capture New Zealand Amateur titles

Harrison Crowe won the 2022 Asia-Pacific Amateur and played in last year’s Masters. Stubbs and Crowe grew up playing together, so he picked Crowe’s brain about what was in store following the monumental win. Stubbs has also reached out to Oliver Goss, the 2013 U.S. Amateur runner-up to Alex Fitzpatrick at The Country Club. Stubbs has also had the chance to speak to Adam Scott; he has teed it up with the 2013 Masters champion since qualifying for The Masters.

Some of the advice has to do with the course.

“Obviously the first thing that everyone says is about how slopey it is and you have to try your best to get used to it before you get over there because it's it's twice as slopey over there,” Stubbs said. “Being from Melbourne, it's pretty easy to practice on quick sloping fast greens.”

The other bits of advice have to do with the week in general and managing the experience as a whole.

“A lot of the information I got from most of those guys was just to simplify the week, don't try and get in your head about all this tricky, weird different stuff that you have to try and do,” Stubbs said. “Play the game how you normally would. Don't try and over complicate it just because it's The Masters.”

The victory at the Asia Pacific Amateur was dramatic. Stubbs rolled home a 60-foot putt on the first playoff hole that seemed to clinch the victory, as Wenyi Ding had a lengthly putt of his own to extend the playoff. Zheng was already out after hitting his approach into a bunker.

The putt Stubbs sank was no joke.

“It was downhill sliding a long way. I was aiming half as wide as the putt was long,” Stubbs said. “It's one of those putts that we get quite a lot down there at Royal Melbourne and some of the other golf courses in the area, you just got to feel like you're aiming sideways and find the speed and get a break point and just watch it go from there.”

Stubbs started the day six shots behind the leader, Zheng. A birdie on the 17th hole made winning feel like a reality. As he watched the birdie putt on the playoff hole track toward the hole, he’s felt pretty good about it.

“All of a sudden, it's tracking, and I'm running sideways, and then it goes in. And then I went and gave my caddie a high five,” Stubbs said. “And all of a sudden Winyi was over the ball, and he rammed his in the back. And it was like, ‘Oh my god, I gotta go do it again.”

Stubbs had allowed himself to daydream before Ding made his putt about all the things he probably just won.

“I had never played with major tournaments dangling over my head. I thought I'd booked myself a ticket to Augusta and then in The Open as well,” Stubbs said. “And then all of a sudden it was like, ‘Oh, no, we've got another hole to play. Let's go.’”

Stubbs won the second playoff hole with a par and made that dream a reality.

Related: Stubbs travels two miles from home to win the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship

It’s been a busy six months since Stubbs clinched his Masters and Open Championship ticket. He’s been playing a lot of golf and dreaming about some of the little traditions he’ll be a part of. He’s looking forward to playing in the par-3 tournament and skipping his shot across the water on the 18th hole.

Most of the events Stubbs has played in have been professional events in Australia and New Zealand. It’s what’s available to him right now, and it’s a good test for him. He plans to make his decision about turning professional once he plays in the Open Championship. The Masters and Open Championship require winners of the amateur events to remain amateurs to participate. However, this isn’t what is keeping Stubbs an amateur. The timing of the professional season worked out for him.

“The plan was to try to win the Asia Pacific and then turn pro following the Open,” Stubbs said. “We start our (professional) season in Augusta, so it would have made sense to play the season out as an amateur.”

Stubbs is ranked No. 34 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings.

When an amateur qualifies for The Masters, so does his family and friends. Stubbs will have a solid cheering section for the week. His younger sister Piper, his older brother, Fletcher, and his parents, Peter and Fiona will be in town. He’ll also have some friends from his club, Peninsula Kingswood, along for the ride. Piper plays golf at South Dakota State. Fletcher played golf, too, but now enjoys the game recreationally.

The practice rounds provide an incredible opportunity to learn and settle into the week. They get to play alongside the best in the world on a course that’s so tough to unlock with just a few spins around the hallowed grounds. But Stubbs is hoping Cam Smith or Min Woo Lee or any of the Australian contingent will help.

Two other names he had on his shortlist for practice rounds were Jon Rahm and Max Homa.

“I love those guys. I've watched them over the last couple of years,” he said. “I think they're great golfers, and I'd love to pick their brains on some things.”

Golf Australia will help Stubbs schedule some practice rounds, but there’s also the laid-back mentality where players just show up to the first tee and play without making any plans.

Overall, Golf Australia has been a huge help to Stubbs. He’s been using a home they have in Orlando to camp out and practice as he acclimates and sharpens his game. The organization also helped Stubb link up with professional caddie Simon Clark, who will be on the bag to Stubbs again this week. They’ll navigate another Alistir MacKenize design together.

It took four days on one of Alister MacKenzie’s famed courses, Royal Melbourne, to reach The Masters. Now more of MacKenzie’s delights await the Australian amateur who used to wake up early on a Monday to watch his golfing heroes tee it up at Augusta National.

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