April 6, 2000

AUGUSTA, Ga. - University of Oklahoma senior Hunter Haas finally knows what it feels like to be a professional golfer. Not from the standpoint of receiving a paycheck, because he won't get one, but from playing one of the best golf courses in the world set up for a major championship.

"There's no way to prepare for what I just experienced," said Haas following his first round. "Arnold Palmer told me during the practice round that the course would be different and harder. Man, was he right!"

Haas finished his first Masters round with an 8-over 80, however five of those strokes came from the par-3 sixth and par-3 12th. Hunter double-bogied the sixth hole after his chip from behind the green failed to stop at the hole and roll down to the front of the green. On the famous 12th hole, his tee shot was buried in the front bunker and his shot out sailed across the green 25 feet away.

"Those two holes killed me," Haas said sadly. "I thought I hit great shots on both holes, but placement around the green is important here. In both cases, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. If I make par on those two holes, my entire round is different and I'm not feeling like I need to shoot four under tomorrow."

Haas will play again tomorrow with Larry Mize and Fred Funk. The threesome will tee off at 11:02 a.m. Oklahoma time. The cut for the tournament will be made following the second round on Friday. All players within 10 shots of the leader will play the weekend.

AUGUSTA NOTES

  • The 2000 Masters began with honorary starters Sam Snead and Byron Nelson hitting the first drives at 8 a.m. Snead, 87, won the 1949, 1952 and 1954 Masters, as well as the 1946 British Open and three PGA Championships. Nelson, 88, won the 1937 and 1942 Masters, as well as the 1939 U.S. Open and two PGA Championships.
  • It's easy to see that Hunter Haas is representing the University of Oklahoma. Besides wearing an OU baseball cap, he's also using a large white golf bag with a red Oklahoma down both sides.
  • Haas spent Wednesday night in the famed "Crows Nest" at Augusta National with fellow amateur and current Texas Longhorn David Gossett. Not tired, Hunter ventured down stairs to talk with the maintenance staff and cooks. "We had a great conversation," noted Haas. "They asked me about college and being an athlete, and I asked them about working at a great place like this and all the famous people they see every year."
  • Besides talking to staff and watching some TV, Haas spent the night before his first Masters reading about the tournament in John Feinstein's "The Majors". "I thought it was time that I learn more about this tournament," added Haas. "I really enjoyed reading about the par-3 tournament curse. Now I'm really glad I didn't win the playoff."
  • Haas' day began early this morning with breakfast at 6 a.m. His first appearance on the course came at 8 a.m. when he started his warm-up routine at the putting green. He took the long walk through the large Augusta crowds to the driving range 30 minutes later. Hunter responded graciously as golf fans and autograph seekers called their good wishes. Before teeing off at 9:21 local time, Hunter stopped back at the putting green. His first drive of the day found the middle of the fairway and outdistanced those of playing partners Larry Mize and Fred Funk.
  • "I was shaking so bad that I could barely get the tee in the ground," Haas said about the first hole. "I just told myself that the worst thing I could do was shank the ball right and hit the media center building just behind the main scoreboard. Thankfully I hit it square and put it right down the middle."
  • The shot of the day for Haas was at the par-3 fourth, when his tee shot landed two feet from the hole. With a short putt, he recorded his first birdie of the tournament. Last year, the fourth hole ranked as the third-toughest hole of the tournament. "That was probably my best shot of the day," said Haas of his attempt at number four. "I wish that all my shots cooperated as well as that one did."
  • Ex-Sooner Glen Day fired a first-round score of 79 (+7).

Hunter Haas' Thursday Scorecard

HOLEYARDSPARSCORE
141045
257555
335044
420532
543544
618035
736544
855056
943044
3500 3639
1048545
1145544
1215535
1348555
1440543
1550056
1617034
1742544
1840545
34853641
TOTAL69857280