Wesley Bryan is going back to work this week. It just so happens it's his dream job.
After a five-week break from competitive golf he said his manager, Andrew Kipper, "highly" advised him not to take, Bryan will tee off in his first Masters on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club. It will be a week of firsts for the former Dutch Fork High School and USC golfer.
On Monday, he made his first appearance in the Augusta National media room with his father, George Bryan III, who runs the George Bryan Golf Academy in Columbia, videotaping from the side and once having to jog his son's memory for an answer. Most of the stories came pouring back for Wesley.
"Like I remember Billy Andrade at one point just flicking me a golf ball behind the 8th tee box, and those are little memories that they just don't go away," said Bryan, who grew up in Columbia and was a regular spectator at the tournament as a child.
He qualified for his first time inside the ropes by winning last year's RBC Heritage the week after last year's Masters.
"Having to wait 51 weeks to get here for the Masters has been a long wait," he joked.
He made the most of his first day fashion-wise, showing up bright pink and white shoes that matched his shirt and a belt from his favorite restaurant turned sponsor Taco Bell. Other than that, it was all business.
He played a Monday morning practice round that he estimated was his "10th or 12th" round at Augusta National. Now an Augusta resident, he has spent the past five weeks playing nearly every day at local courses Bartram Trail (where he owns the course record with a 60) and Forest Hills and making occasional trips down Magnolia Lane to hone his game for this week.
"I felt like I was going in a direction that I wasn't seeing any results for the first half of the year, and I knew that I was really close, and I've never been one to play my way into form," said Bryan, who hasn't finished higher than 27th in the nine events he played this year. "I feel like I'm one of those guys that has always done really well off of rest. I kind of know what I've got to do to get better, and I don't need tournament golf to round me into form. So I've been working really hard these last five weeks. It's definitely not been a vacation by any stretch, probably worked harder than I've ever worked in my entire life to get ready for this one event."
He estimated that he played six-to-seven rounds of a golf a week and took only five days off in March. In that time, he reshaped his drive from a left-to-right cut to a right-to-left draw that he likes much more and that he thinks fits Augusta better.
"I felt like it was one of those changes that needed to happen, and that was also part of the reason taking four to five weeks off, getting really comfortable moving the golf ball the other way," he said. "It has gotten a lot better."
He treated his five-week break like a 9-to-5 job, and he plans to treat the tournament the same way, he said.
"It's just another golf tournament; I'm going to treat it as such," he said. "I'm going to go to bed early. I'm going to wake up at the same time. I'm going to fix my coffee and scramble my eggs and go to the golf course."
When he gets there, he plans to contend, which would be a shock to many considering he's a 400-to-1 betting proposition.
"I don't feel like there's any extra pressure to perform out here because it's not like going into the tournament I'm one of the frontrunners to win," he said. "I might be one of the local guys, but I've kind of got the chip on my shoulder a little bit seeing some of the odds to win. And I would like to think personally that I have a little better odds than that, but it's just another golf tournament. You want to try and have a chance to win on Sunday on the back nine."
This article is written by Josh Kendall from The State and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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