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bunch of pictures on the wall, a lot of memorabilia. It’s re- ally cool.”


••• PRACTICE ROUND


Fred Couples hitting balls with his oh-so-rhythmic swing. Weaver set up nearby, thinking maybe he could chat with the coolest, 53-year-old golfer on the planet. Then the most famous


MONDAY T


golfer on the planet showed up. Weaver didn’t have a


chance to introduce himself to Tiger Woods, mostly because Woods and Couples quickly became immersed in conversation. Still, if any fellow amateurs ever big- time him, Weaver can always nonchalantly respond, “Well, I was hitting balls next to Tiger and Freddie one day at Augusta…” Woods went off to play nine holes with 14-year-old Chinese phenom Guan Tian- lang, while Weaver joined Jason Dufner for a practice round. They had a connec-


his time, Weaver reached the range and noticed


tion—Dufner knows Chris Beckner, the club caddie Weaver hired for the week— and they took a pleasant, quiet trip around the course. Augusta National held its


traditional amateur dinner Monday night, giving Weaver the chance to mingle with club chairman Billy Payne and officials from the USGA and R&A. One of the other amateurs there was Guan, the youngest player in Masters history and soon to become the youngest player in the modern era to make the cut in a major. Weaver and Guan were


the only amateurs to stay in the Crow’s Nest that night (Weaver would move to his family’s rented home on Tuesday). They talked and hung out a bit—long enough for Weaver to be- come a believer. “I was really impressed


with how mature he is for 14,” Weaver said of Guan. “We all spoke briefly at the amateur dinner—there were quite a few people there— and he spoke in front of everyone just fine. I know if


that was me, and I was 14 and speaking in a second language, I would be pretty nervous. But he handled it very well.” Weaver and Nick Watney


later joked about what they were doing at age 14—try- ing to break 80 on regular courses, not trying to make the cut at the Masters.


••• PRACTICE ROUND


TUESDAY W


eaver memorably christened his practice


round with Watney (who starred at Fresno State) and Luke Donald, the world’s No. 4-ranked player at the time. Donald is not especially long off the tee, and his drive on No. 1 stopped in the middle of the fairway, short of the right bunker. Watney also went down


the middle, slightly longer. Then Weaver, filled with adrenaline, crushed his drive—past even Watney’s ball. As the three players walked off the tee, Donald turned to Watney and loudly joked, “You know, these


amateurs don’t have any re- spect for us pros!” The crowd cracked up. Much to Weaver’s sur-


prise, Donald and Watney both knew about the great season Cal was putting to- gether. They spotted Weaver’s abundant blue-and-gold gear—cap, shirt, bag—and peppered him with questions about his college season. Weaver thoroughly


enjoyed this practice round, partly because Watney was so engaging and partly because it gave him a chance to watch Donald chip and putt. The man didn’t spend time at No. 1 in the rankings by accident. “His short game is just


incredible,” Weaver said. “He’s so consistent around the greens—it’s not like he hits some good shots and some bad shots. They’re all good and some are great.”


•••


WEDNESDAY B


PRACTICE ROUND


y this point, Weaver had shed any sense of


intimidation cavorting with the world’s top players. So he


“Well, I was hitting balls next to Tiger and Freddie one day at Augusta…”


Weaver tees off on the first hole at Augusta


National during a practice round.


PHOTO: CINDY VINING


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