Australian amateur Antonio Murdaca is refusing to get overawed as he prepares for his debut Masters – in fact is seeking out the famed Augusta roars.
In the field via his win in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Melbourne last year, the 19-year-old sits as a 1000-1 shot to win a green jacket but rather than show nerves he has embraced his place.
Murdaca visited Augusta National earlier in the year to overcome any initial nerves but now, with thousands of patrons storming the grounds, it’s a different experience.
“My heart was pumping a little bit quicker compared to my earlier practice rounds but it is a pretty cool vibe, I have never experienced something like this before,” he said.
“Just the vibe off the crowd gets you pumped up, it keeps your mind off bad shots and focused on hitting good ones because you can hear the roars and you kind of want to hear them some more.
“I was hoping I would be here at some point in the coming years but never thought I’d be here at 19.”
Murdaca will have his coach Gareth Jones on his bag as caddy just as he did at Royal Melbourne where he blitzed the field by seven shots and in his two Australian Open appearances (T46 2014, T45 2013).
If he can pull off a miracle, Murdaca will be the first amateur to win the Masters, and the first amateur major winner since 1933 when Johnny Goodman won the US Open.
A more realistic goal is keeping the Silver Cup as low amateur in Australian hands after Oliver Goss claimed it last year, the second ever Aussie behind Jim Ferrier in 1940.
To claim it he will need to make the cut and beat out Canadian Corey Conners, Chile’s Matias Dominguez, Scotland’s Neil Bradley, Korean Gunn Yang and Americans Scott Harvey and Byron Meth.
Murdaca warmed up for the event with a comprehensive seven shot victory in the South Australian Amateur Championship last month and then joined 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott in a practice round.
“He’s not scared to be in front and when it gets going he doesn’t back off,” coach and caddie Gareth Jones said.
“He seems to thrive on the bigger occasions and it doesn’t get much bigger than this.”