By Art Stricklin
Augusta, GA – University of Oklahoma sophomore Brad Dalke missed the 36-hole cut in his first Masters appearance Friday, but left Augusta National Golf club with memories of a lifetime, including a finishing kick he won’t soon forget.
Dalke, 19, who earned his Masters invitation through finishing second in the 2016 U.S. Amateur, ended his week-long Masters experience with birdies on holes 13, 16 and 18 on another windy and chilly day at the season’s first major golf championship.
“It’s so awesome,” he said of his week after prolonged applause from the Masters patrons who ringed around the par-4 18th hole.
“I would think the Masters is the best tournament out here. It’s just kind of magic,” he said.
After an opening 78 on Thursday, he knew he would need to go low to make the cut Friday, but finished with a second round 75 for a 153 total, missing the cut by three shots with the afternoon wave of golfers still on the course.
But OU head golf coach Ryan Hybl, who was on site to see Dalke play, said his star player likes the big stage and he certainly proved that around noon on Friday.
After bogeys on holes 4, 5, 10 and 12, meaning he had little chance to make the cut, Dalke turned it on in the closing stretch of historic holes.
He birdied the par-5 13th hole, the watery par-3 16th hole and the uphill par-4 18th hole, something any number of pros would pay Dalke handsomely for on Sunday afternoon.
“I could feel the crowd kind of cheering for me. I could hear them in the background.
“Playing as a amateur (here) is so cool. To be able to stay in the Crow’s Nest, staying on property, and everybody is rooting for you, even all the members,” Dalke said.
The week began when members of the OU golf team got to watch him in person Monday after finishing a college tournament in Augusta on Sunday.
Dalke got to play a brief rainy practice round with past Masters champion Bubba Watson on Monday along with Steve Stricker. Tuesday, Dalke played with past Masters champ Jordan Spieth.
Wednesday was another wet practice season before the course was closed early due to rain and lightning.
As Dalke heads back to the Sooners spring golf season, which resumes next weekend at The Maxwell at Oak Tree Country Club, he takes Masters memories which he hopes will last until his playing return, which he has faith will come sooner rather than later.
“It’s something obviously that a lot of people don’t get to experience, but it’s great to experience this year. It was fun.”