Patton Kizzire consults with his caddie during the first round of the Masters Tournament Thursday, April 11, 2019, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta. Jason Getz / Special to the AJC
Photo: Jason Getz/Jason Getz
Photo: Jason Getz/Jason Getz

Unlikely man with plan, Kizzire has name on Masters leaderboard

“Whether I’m in the lead or last place, I’m just trying to do the best he can,” Kizzire said. “But it’s fun to see yourself on the leader board.”

Remarkably, he stayed there almost all of Thursday's first round of the Masters, part of top-heavy scoreboard until he bogeyed No. 18, eventually dropping him four shots off the pace entering Friday play. Yes, there are some unlikely players up there with him - paging Mr. Kiradech Aphibarnrat (3 under) - but Kizzire's name drew some double-takes, tied with the likes of Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler. Maybe even a little second-glance from himself.

“I’ve just been trying to find what feels consistent,” he said. “And I haven’t been very consistent.”

First, for the easy questions. Kizzire is pronounced like desire. He’s 33 and played at Auburn, even though he grew up in Tuscaloosa and his father Maxie played baseball for Alabama. He qualified for the Masters by making it into last season's Tour Championship.

But the harder question is: 2-under 70? His has been a silent spring with just one top-10 finish this season - T-8 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions during the Hawaiian swing. He has missed the cut in half of his last six events.

Having qualified for last year's Masters with his first two PGA Tour wins - the Sony Open also in Hawaii and the OHL Classic in Mexico - he went 76-76 and quickly headed down I-20. Then this? In his second Augusta National visit?

“It’s tough out there and my nerves is the big thing,” he said. “I’m excited to be here. Just trying to calm myself down. It seems like the first day is the hardest day always. So I'm pleased with 2-under.”

He may have been short-changed. After the eagle at No. 2, he birdied the par-5 eighth with a dandy chip that led to a tap-in 4. He bogeyed the par-3 12th but responded with a birdie at the par-5 13th, flying the green in two, chipping poorly off a tight lie and then dropping a 20-footer.

“That was huge,” he said.

If there was one he wanted back, it was the approach at the 18th, where he arrived in a six-way tie for first.

“Very disappointing. I was really between clubs and the wind is kind of tough to judge today,” he said. “I was very indecisive so I hit a bad 9-iron. Thought I hit a pretty good wedge shot but it bounced right and I left myself a tough putt for par and it didn't go in.”

A second bogey to go with his eagle, two birdies and 13 pars.

“But I did a lot of good stuff out there, so I can't complain.”

His next act? Urinalysis.

“Well, I got to take a drug test,” he said after posting his score. “Then I go get rubbed (massage therapy) and go get something to eat and go to sleep.”"

Unlikely man has his plan.

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