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Suwanee man hasn't missed a Masters since 1969

Tiger Woods of the U.S. hits his tee shot on the third hole during second round play in the 2013 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 12, 2013.  REUTERS/Phil Noble (UNITED STATES  - Tags: SPORT GOLF)

Tiger Woods of the U.S. hits his tee shot on the third hole during second round play in the 2013 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 12, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF)

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David Whitfield

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Who do you want to win the Masters?

  • Tiger Woods 7%
  • Phil Mickelson 10%
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68 total votes.

AUGUSTA -- Marc Leishman, leading after the first day of the Masters, found himself, for a moment, trying to answer a question he didn't understand.

He had a bunker shot on No. 18 and just cleared the lip to make par and was asked if he recalled Sandy Lyle's shot from the same place in his 1988 Masters victory.

"To be honest, I can't remember when he won it," Leishman said.

Without a doubt, David Whitfield can.

Whitfield doesn't know much about Leishman, or didn't until this weekend, but the Suwanee resident hasn't missed a Masters tournament in 44 years. He was here when Lyle made the bunker shot. He was here when Jack Nicklaus won in 1975 and again in 1986. He was here for Tiger and Phil.

"I remember seeing Nicklaus and (Tom) Weiskopf and Johnny Miller walk up 18 when Nicklaus had the green shirt on," Whitfield said. "I was a big Nicklaus fan."

Whitfield made his first trip to Augusta National in 1969 as a 9-year-old with his grandfather. His family drove down from their home in Durham, N.C., to his grandparents house in Columbia, S.C., and they drove over and watched George Archer win. And he's never stopped coming back.

"It's neat to come down every year and this is the ultimate in sports," Whitfield said. "It's the best golf that there is."

Whitfield had a burgeoning love of golf before his first Masters experience and after it only grew. He would sneak into his father's car when he'd leave to go play golf and pop up when they got to the course. He played on the golf team at the University of North Carolina with Nicklaus' eldest son, Jackie, and played in four PGA tour events and other mini professional tours. From there, Whitfield went into real estate and now works at TPC Sugarloaf

"Real estate and golf, those are things I love the best," he said.

Over the years, he's brought plenty of people with him for his annual Wednesday through Sunday pilgrimage. On this trip, Whitfield brought four friends, but he's brought his stepson, wife and other friends. He loves to share his passion for this place.

"We've brought so many people down over the years and that's the first thing the say, 'We never realized how hilly it is,'" Whitfield said.

He's even played the course a few times, once in college and again a few years ago. After all his trips and walks around, he said he can visualize every shot.

"It's so neat because I have seen all the shots hit, I know where to play it, I know how to do it," he said. "When you're here, you never feel like your feet hit the ground. It's just such and awesome experience playing it."

That's a feeling he shares with Leishman, who struggled his first time in the Masters because he "looked around" too much. Leishman is one stroke back of the lead right now, in position to make another memory for Whitfield.

"I am 53, so 44 years of Masters is awesome," Whitfield said.