AUGUSTA, Ga. -- In a very quick and memorable transition, Clemson sophomore Doc Redman went from near solitude playing a few final quick Masters practice holes into performing for thousands.
It wasn't the last surprise he'd receive Tuesday at Augusta National where he earned an invite as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion.
After finishing his round, the 20-year-old learned for the first time his already star-studded pairing for Rounds 1 and 2 had added an exciting twist. Redman already knew by tradition he'd be paired with the defending champion, Sergio Garcia, but then just prior to taking the course it was announced his trio would include world No. 2 Justin Thomas, arguably the hottest player on the planet.
What Redman didn't know until later was his threesome would play both days in the group directly ahead of Tiger Woods, whose return to the event has elevated the buzz to ridiculous levels.
So in addition to competing alongside two of the world's best, Redman will now contend with the circus outside the ropes that accompanies Woods during every round. The group ahead must deal with the distractions outside of the ropes with patrons jockeying for prime position in awaiting Woods' arrival to that next tee-box, fairway, and green.
"I've heard it is kind of a mess playing in front of Tiger," Redman said. "But I think it will be easy to lock in. There's going to be a lot going on, but it's still golf and I think I'll be able to focus really well. I think it's exciting to have people watching and its fun when it really matters, so I'll be nervous, but I know how to handle it."
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Redman got a little sneak preview of what the massive galleries will be like during his surprise ending to Tuesday's practice round. After partners Jason Dufner and Patton Kizzire called it a day after nine holes, Redman decided he wanted to go solo a little longer. After playing the 10th, he skipped ahead to the nearby 15th tee-box before seeing some friends outside the ropes.
"You having fun?" they asked.
"Yeah, it's unbelievable, pretty crazy," Redman replied.
It was about to get crazier. As he waited for another solo player to clear the 15th green before hitting his approach, he discovered it was Rickie Fowler. The eighth-ranked player in the world and one of the Tour's most popular told Redman to hit into the following par-3 16th green whenever he was ready as Fowler continued working on his putting and then invited him to finish the final two holes together.
Needless to say, with very few players left on the course, Fowler's presence drew thousands and Redman suddenly had a massive audience. It was also exciting for Redman's parents, who were in attendance and with both sharing Fowler's alma mater, Oklahoma State. Redman became the mystery man to most with patrons suddenly scrambling for the identity of the young guy with the Clemson bag.
"That was pretty crazy," Redman said. "I was just trying to play a quick five holes and there's Rickie Fowler. I'm a huge fan so it was awesome to play in front of him."
For more on Redman's early Masters experience check back to GoUpstate.com on Wednesday as well as Thursday morning's Herald-Journal ___
This article is written by Eric Boynton from Spartanburg Herald-Journal and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCredpublisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.