AUGUSTA, GA.—If you were just watching the leader board from the 70th Masters on the Internet Friday, you might say Dillon Dougherty, the fifth-year senior from Northwestern, had a disappointing ending to his first Masters appearance. After opening with a 10-over 82 on Thursday, it was going to take a miraculous effort for the U.S. Amateur finalist to play four competitive rounds at Augusta National GC. Suffice it to say, the six-over 78 he shot in the second round didn’t come close to cutting it.
What casual fans didn’t see was what went on after Dougherty signed his scorecard Friday. Between the 18th green and the clubhouse, three-time Masters champion Gary Player asked if he might be interested in going to the driving range. Player had been in the same threesome the previous 36 holes (and shot the same score), but thought he could put a little polish on the young man’s swing.
“We all need help sometimes,” Player said afterward. “I could just see this young man has so much ability.”
The suggestions Player offered were minor in scope—get his right side a little more stable on the way back to be able to fire through the ball better—but the meaning was truly major. It’s not every day a guy who has won the career Grand Slam offers to help you work the kinks out of your game.
“The guys out here hitting balls afterward and helping me out,” said Dougherty, who joined the rest of the four amateurs, including BYU junior Clay Ogden, competing at Augusta National in missing the cut. “That’s the love for the game right there.”
In the short term it was a salve to a bruised ego for Dougherty. In the long run, it was a memory that will live on in the 23-year-old’s memory forever. Says Dougherty: “It couldn’t have ended any better than that.”