Murdaca raring to go after overcoming 1st round Masters nerves

Antonio Murdaca 595

By Golf Australia

THERE’S talking, there’s planning, there’s practice rounds – and then there’s the real deal.

Antonio Murdaca, 19, spent the past six months plotting today, his Masters debut.

And while the final number 78 wasn’t prominent in expectations, the lessons he learnt are already invaluable.

The South Australian amateur said he “felt comfortable” on the hallowed turf of Augusta National in his maiden round in a major championship.

But despite 12 pars and two birdies, four untimely double-bogeys spoilt the score, if not his enthusiasm for his performance.

“I felt I hit it really well today, the swing felt good and I felt comfortable out there,” Murdaca said after his six-over-par round left him four shots adrift of leading amateur Byron Meth.

“It doesn’t take a bad shot to be out of place at Augusta National.

“(I learnt that) It’s very difficult to make up and down from the wrong side (of the green).

“I need to keep my tempo tomorrow and keep the ball in better positions.”

Murdaca went out early to watch the honorary starter ceremony with legends Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

“It was pretty amazing … I never thought I’d see it in person.”

Then set about last minute preparations for his round with tournament favourites Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson.

“It was pretty cool shaking hands with Adam and Dustin – standing on the first tee, my legs were trembling.

“But I hit a good shot down the left.”

In fact, his first hole was a snapshot of his round.

nice second shot to a back pin flew about 1m too far and the 19-year-old paid a heavy price as the ball trickled over the back and into double-bogey-ville.

“It was just over the back … about three feet too long. But it’s so easy to get yourself out of position here.”

Birdies on the par-5 eighth and15th holes settled his nerves, but again some late slight misjudgements proved costly, including another double on the last hole when his approach wasn’t far from the pin when it landed.

Coach and caddie Gareth Jones said Murdaca “handled himself really well” and would be better for the run.

“It’s imperative we keep the ball in the right places like we did at Royal Melbourne (to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship),” the South Australian said.

“We missed a few spots today. But it’s major golf though, it’s tough.”

Murdaca lies tied 85th after round one and will need to make a move tomorrow to either reach the top 50 or be within 10 shots of the leader to make the cut.

American Jordan Spieth leads after round one with a breath-taking 64.

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