AUGUSTA, Ga. — First things first. Actually, it’s the middle name that comes first for Smylie Kaufman, whose given name is Carter. Also, “Smylie” is a name from the family tree, not a nickname, although he is a polite and cheerful young man.
Most important, he is a skillful golfer who won a PGA Tour event last October by shooting 10-under-par 61 in the final round (and having to wait two hours to see if any of the other golfers could catch him). Kaufman, 24, did not lavishly spend his winnings from the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas. He still lives with his folks in Vestavia Hills, Alabama and drives a 2008 Nissan. He is staying with them this week in Augusta, too. “I don’t know what we’re eating (tonight),” he said.
Whatever he does seems to be working. He shot 3-under-par 69 on a tough day on Saturday at Augusta National and shot himself into contention at his first Masters. The former LSU player will be in the final group in the last round Sunday, with defending champion Jordan Spieth, against whom he played often in junior golf.
Kaufman has a brother named “Luckie,” but he considers himself fortunate. He is surrounded by 20 to 30 relatives and friends this week, adding, “They are taking advantage of the great prices Augusta offers on the beer.”
Horschel gets blown away
Billy Horschel had the worst break of the day. After having chipped on to the front of the par-5 15th green with his third shot, and figuring he had a decent shot at birdie, he marked his ball and replaced it. His misfortune came just then: As he put his ball on the green, a gust appeared and rolled his ball off the green, into a water hazard for a penalty stroke.
“Obviously, I didn’t have my scuba gear to play it from the water,” said Horschel, a self-described emotional person. “I just wasn’t happy.”
While the conditions weren’t at the level of the seventh at Shinnecock Hills during the 2004 U.S. Open — when the green was so slick and crusty officials decided to water it during play — Horschel let Masters rules officials know that Augusta National was “on a fine line.”
He was pleased to have recorded a bogey on his way to a 73 and a finish at 4 over for the tournament, but he would have been much happier with a birdie. “I know the golfing gods,” he said. “I think they owe me one.”