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The Thrill of the Masters

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And that first Masters? He remembers every detail. “The big thrill was just being on site,” Weir said. “Going down Magnolia Lane for the first time, you’re thinking, I’m at the Masters. Only a couple of years earlier, I was struggling on the Canadian tour.”

Professionals take the invite seriously. For many of them, it’s not a given. If they’re not a past champion, or a recent winner of another major, the players have to be within the top 50 in the world rankings to get an invitation. So, for a young player, even one with tremendous potential, capitalizing on an invite from winning a tournament is an important career milestone.

That is what Cameron Champ, a long-hitting young professional, said he had been hoping to do. Winning a PGA Tour event is usually a lock for an invitation to the Masters. He had won the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2018, but at the time it was an alternate event, held the same week as the 2018 WGC HSBC Champions, so it did not get him a Masters invite.

Last September, he won the Safeway Open, which finally got him a Masters invite.

“Seeing the invitation for the first time, all the satisfaction of getting there, it’s the most prestigious event in golf,” Champ said. “You’re a certain caliber in the rankings if you’ve won. I’m only 24. I’ve watched it every single year of my life.”

He said the first thing he did when he won the Safeway was bring the trophy home to his grandfather, who had been instrumental in his playing golf.

“When I walked in, he was wearing a 2019 Masters hat,” Champ said. “When I showed him the trophy, he said that’s what you should be doing, you’re a tour player now. I laughed. If it was that easy, I’d have 50 of them.”

First-time invites to Augusta National tend to bring as many family members as can make it. But this year patrons are not allowed.

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