AUGUSTA — None of the four players representing Clemson in the 2012 Masters field played their way to the top of the leaderboard here on Thursday, but none of them played their way out of contention, either.
Corbin Mills, Lucas Glover, Kyle Stanley and Jonathan Byrd represented the Tiger golf fraternity at Augusta National Golf Club in the opening round, and all harbor hopes of being factors this weekend.
Byrd was the low Tiger with an even par 72, while Mills was 2-over and Glover and Stanley each finished at 3-over.
“I had several opportunities for a really good score, and I’m a little disappointed with my back nine,” Byrd said. “But all things considered, I’m happy to walk off with even par.”
Byrd became a father for the third time on Friday when his wife gave birth to a healthy girl. He said that event actually helped his game.
“It was a great distraction,” he said. “It helped me have a good mindset coming in and it gave me a good perspective on life.”
Mills clearly had the best time among the Tigers, and was more than pleased with his 2-over 74. When his first competitive round at ANGC was done he had garnered two birdies and hit 13 greens in regulation.
There were also five bogeys on his card, but they didn’t faze the only current Clemson student in the field.
“I had a blast today,” Mills said. “It was really awesome. Just the fact that I was actually out here was incredible.”
Mills said the Clemson vets helped him prepare for his Masters appearance, as did his caddie – Clemson associate head men’s golf coach Jordan Byrd, brother of Jonathan Byrd..
“They were all great and Jordan was huge helping me out there today,” Mills said. “Really, this day was everything I could’ve asked for and more. My only goal is really to go out there, have fun and play good golf, and that’s what I did.
“It was great.”
Mills is competing for the Silver Cup, which will be awarded to the low amateur in the field.
The amateur leaders moving into the second round are Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Cantlay, with 1-under 71s.
Glover had trouble making putts, and that put him at 3-over for the day.
Still, he wasn’t too upset with his round.
“I played all right,” he said. “It wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t great. I had a chance for eagles on 13 and 15, with a four-footer and a six-footer, but I ended up with birdies. I left some putts out there.”
Glover bogeyed the first two holes and that put him in a tough spot at the beginning of the day.
“It was just a bad start,” he said. “I feel like if I had made some putts today it would’ve been a better round, but you have bad putting and early mistakes and this is what you get. But I burned a lot of edges and have some good vibes about tomorrow.”
Glover said the key is to relax more when he tees off today.
“I over read a lot of putts,” Glover said. “The hardest part about playing here is getting comfortable, and hopefully I can do that.”
Stanley also came in at 3-under, and, like his Clemson comrade, tried not to fret too much over his number.
Stanley birdied No. 2 but lost his momentum when he bogeyed No. 4 and double-bogeyed No. 7.
Although he had two more birds on the back nine, a 75 was less than he expected.
“I probably played better than my score showed, but I hit a lot of mud balls,” he said. “With the course conditions it was kind of a guessing game out there, and I think I was overly cautious at times.
“But it’s hard to complain when you’re here at Augusta. There’s a bit of a different aura out here, but at the end of the day it’s still golf.”