AUGUSTA, Ga. – It’s been a long 51 weeks for Wesley Bryan.
The Augusta resident via Columbia, S.C., earned his first trip to the Masters with his victory at last year’s RBC Heritage, which was played the week after the 2017 Masters, and he’s had just one thing on his mind ever since.
Actually, it’s been on his mind since he picked up a golf club and learned the game essentially in the shadow of golf’s greatest cathedral. He first attended the Masters in 1996 as a 6-year-old when his father gave him $20 for food for the day.
“I would spend it all up before noon on pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches, and I would have to go walking back just to ask him for a little dessert money,” he laughed on Monday.
Bryan’s connection to Augusta National goes beyond the normal affinity players enjoy for the home of the Masters. His caddie, William Lanier, was born and raised in Augusta and now lives about a mile from the course.
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In fact, Lanier’s grandfather used to camp with friends along Rae’s Creek before Augusta National was even built, and he learned the game playing Augusta Country Club next door.
“Growing up we’d play our ninth hole and peer over the fence [at Augusta National’s 13th hole], it means so much,” said Lanier, who caddied once before at the Masters for David Toms in 2008.
When he was in high school, Lanier worked the Augusta National range during the tournament and his senior year, 1986, he was in the CBS production truck inputting data. He remembers vividly as Jack Nicklaus made his historic run to an 18th major title.
“That truck got loud, you could hear [late CBS producer] Frank Chirkinian yelling,” Lanier said.
Both Bryan and Lanier are taking advantage of the “home” game this week, with Bryan staying at his house and Lanier walking the mile to the course from home each day.