Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

Masters 2024

Masters 2024: 'Oh my gosh, this is actually happening.' Low Am has dream Sunday with Tiger Woods


Andrew Redington

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Neal Shipley was crushed after his third round on Saturday. The only amateur to make the cut, Shipley posted an eight-over 80, which was capped off by an ugly double bogey. One bad round wasn't going to spoil his dream week at Augusta National, but he wasn't exactly thrilled after playing the final three holes in four over.

Then he heard the news. Shipley, who already secured low amateur honors just by making the weekend and who already had experienced the week of his life, was paired with Tiger Woods. There is no such thing as a "good" double bogey, but a double bogey that locks up a tee time with the GOAT certainly isn't the worst thing.

"Obviously shooting 80 is never fun," Shipley said. "Especially ending with a double. I wasn't too pleased after the round.

"We went quickly to the practice facility to get some work in. My caddie came up to me and said, 'Hey, guess who we are going to be paired with tomorrow?' I was just like, 'No way it's Tiger.' And he said, 'Yeah.' I got pretty excited, and that's when the emotions turned around."

Making it even more special was the fact that, throughout the round, Shipley and Woods were seen chatting it up in between shots. They talked about everything from Woods' son Charlie, who was seen with his pops on the range Sunday morning, to the changes over the years to Oakmont Country Club, which is near Shipley's hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa. Woods said he liked "old Oakmont" better because there were more trees. Shipley, 23, isn't old enough to remember that version of the iconic U.S. Open venue.

"We talked a lot about just golf, Charlie and just normal things," Shipley said. "He's such a normal guy and really cool. He was great to me all day. Couldn't be more appreciative of him just being awesome today, and it was just really cool to be around him and just the attention he gets and the roars. The crowds were phenomenal."

Shipley also got a glimpse of what it takes for the 15-time major champion to get ready for the final round of a major championship. Woods told him he woke up at 3:45 a.m. ET this morning. Their tee time? 9:35 a.m.. 

"I really appreciate all the work that he does to keep his body ready to come out here," he said. "I got about three hours more sleep than him. He's really grinding and making a big commitment to be out here for everyone. It's awesome to see the patrons really appreciative of him and really enjoy having him out here."

Among the many memories Shipley will be able to take from Sunday's round, one he can definitely tell his grandkids about is besting Woods by four shots (Shipley shot 73, Woods 77). Of course, Woods is not exactly peaking right now. A small part of Shipley was fine with that. 

"I don't think anyone wants to catch Tiger at his best," he said. "No one is going to win when he's playing his best. Certainly rooting for him and rooting for good golf shots. He was awesome. Wish him nothing but the best."

Shipley's incredible week is far from over. Later the evening, he was set to be at the green jacket ceremony to accept the Silver Cup for low amateur honors. A nice addition to an already strong resume that includes a 2023 U.S. Amateur runner-up finish and a win at the Southwestern Invitational back in January. 

There should be plenty more career highlights to come for Shipley, too. That said, low am honors at the 2024 Masters, which ended with a nice morning stroll with the Big Cat himself? It's going to be a tough week to beat. 

"You know, playing with Tiger, Sunday at the Masters, the whole week," he said, adding, "I think I have to win one of these things to kind of top this week."