AUGUSTA, Ga. – It’s about a 22-minute drive from Kevin Kisner’s house in Aiken, South Carolina, to the course at Augusta National Golf Club. That is, without Masters traffic.
The 32 year-old has dreamed of playing in The Masters since he began coming to the tournament as a young boy. The proximity has allowed Kisner to play some extra practice rounds when he has been home in Aiken. The former Georgia Bulldog has teed it up with Augusta, Georgia native,and Augusta National club champion, Jeff Knox. Knox serves as the marker when the tournament’s cut line produces an odd number of players for the weekend.
Playing in front of patrons for the first time on Monday, Kisner again harvested local knowledge. This time, the notes were mined from Augusta’s Larry Mize, the 1987 Masters champion. “He was dropping all kinds of pearls on me,” said Kisner. “I love playing with those guys that have been all around here and have seen all the kinds of conditions we could possibly be in,” he continued.
Mize showed Kisner how he likes to get around Augusta National. “He showed me where he liked to play from and why, and that’s really helpful for me because I’m going to get in positions that I’m uncomfortable and I don’t’ know. And to have that written down in my book will be really helpful,” said Kisner.
Mize enjoyed the day playing with Kisner and U.S. Amateur runner-up Derrick Bard. The group teed off on the second nine at 10:30 a.m. “You know, Kevin doesn’t’ need to be told anything,” opened Mize. “But I did share some things with him, and most of it, if not all of it, he already knew,” said Mize.
“But I had a blast. He and Derrick both are nice young men. And I think Kevin’s going to have a good week. He’s swinging good and it was a lot of fun to be out there with him,” finished Mize. Kisner says he plans to tee off around noon on Tuesday and play all 18 holes. A large contingent of fans from Aiken are expected to follow him around the course. The South Aiken High School graduate also has plans for Wednesday’s Par 3 contest.
Kisner, Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan all have children near the same age. The group plans to play the Par 3 tournament together and bring their families along. But, there is one problem. Kisner’s wife Brittany reminded him that the group’s Wednesday tee time, will conflict with their 21 month-old daughter Kate’s usual nap time.
“She (Brittany) said ‘nice tee time, right in the middle of nap time’ so I guess I didn’t make the best time,” said Kisner with a smile. It’s just one more thing for the Masters rookie to deal with.