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April 10, 2009

Although he felt disappointed with his finish today, Jack Newman represented himself, Michigan State University and his home state of Iowa admirably this week at the 73rd Masters Tournament. Newman fired a second round four-over par 76 to finish in a tie for 65th at four-over par 148. He was also the second-best amateur in the field, ending up a stroke behind British Amateur champion Reinier Saxton. It was the best finish by a U.S. Amateur Public Links champion at the Masters since Ryan Moore finished in a tie for 13th in 2005.

The MSU junior went off in perfect weather this morning, stepping to the tee markers just after 8:55. Newman's day began with three consecutive pars. His initial drive ended up in the right fairway bunker and he muscled his second shot just off the green to the right. Newman slid his third shot above the hole to set up a 12-foot downhill putt which he sunk. On the second hole he put his drive down the right side and laid up to 60 yards. He placed his third shot about 10 feet to the right of the pin, placed in the back left of the green. His putt slid just low of the hole for a 2-putt par. Newman used a 3-wood off the tee on the third and put it down the middle, but flew his approach shot a couple feet over the green. He used his putter through the fringe to within a foot for a tap-in par.

Three bogeys in the next four holes followed to move Newman to three-over through seven holes. On the par-3 fourth, his tee shot danced on the top of the right side bunker before eventually trickling in. The location forced him to play his ball about 25 feet above the hole and would have to settle for the 2-putt bogey. His fifth tee shot ricocheted off a cart along the right fairway keeping it in play. Newman ripped his second shot to 50-yards in front of the green and went on to chip up about 10 feet past the hole. His putt down lipped out for back-to-back bogeys. Newman pared the sixth hole, placing his tee shot to the center of the green and 2-putting to the right side pin placement.

Newman righted the ship in the final two holes in the first nine, posting a par on the uphill, par-5 eighth and grabbing his first birdie of the day at the difficult par-4 ninth. A right side drive, followed by a left fairway second shot and a middle of the green approach set up Newman at the eighth. His putt came up just short, having to settle for par. He ripped his drive into the wind at the ninth and played a perfect second shot to eight feet. Newman sunk the putt to the delight of the crowd for a front side two-over 38. His birdie on the 9th was one of only 12 there today.

For the second-straight day, Newman bogeyed the 10th to move to three-over. He followed with an impressive par at 11, which was the second hardest hole on the course in the second round (4.41 average). With the wind hard in their face, Newman was on top of a knob in front of the green in two. His chip shot rolled just past the cup and settled two feet away for a tap-in par. The par-3 12th hole deemed to be the dagger for Newman as he dropped his tee shot into Rae's Creek and double-bogeyed. In fact, all three members of Newman's group - Fred Couples and Rocco Mediate - dropped their tee shots into the water and the hole played as the hardest today with a 3.49 average.

Newman had his second birdie of the day at the par-5 13th. His tee shot settled along the right side of the fairway allowing his to try to go for the green in two. His attempted ended up in the left greenside bunker, but had a sand save to 6-8 feet for birdie. Newman would give the stroke back on 14 as his par putt from eight feet burned the edge of the cup. He had a shot at another birdie on the 15th, but again had his putt from inside 10-feet slide just past the hole.

The par-3, 170-yard 16th ended up being the highlight of the day - and maybe even the tournament - for Newman. He fired an 8-iron to the right side pin placement, where it hit in front of the pin and took one short skip to the left before settling within six inches of the hole. Newman would tap it in for his second birdie in two days at the hole. In the second round, the 16th was the sixth most difficult hole (3.22 average) and allowed only 13 birdies.

Newman had two birdie putts within 15 feet in the final two holes to improve his final score, but each barely missed. He settled with a pair of pars to finish and a second nine two-over 38.

He hit 8-of-18 greens in regulation (50.0%) and 8-of-14 fairways (57.1%). In addition, Newman had 29 putts and had a 273.5 driving average. With his three birdies today, Newman is 16th after 36 holes with nine birdies.

After his round, Newman had a brief chat at the back of the 18th green with Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Wisenhunt, an Augusta native. Coach Wisenhunt, who followed Newman around for much of the second nine, said he was impressed with play and demeanor out on the course, and wished him luck in the future. In addition, Clair Peterson, the tournament director of the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois, met Newman as he walked towards the clubhouse and offered him a sponsor's exemption into this year's tournament. It did not take him much time to accept the offer.

Newman wrapped up his impressions of this week at Augusta to Golf Digest in his fourth "Masters Amateur Diary" entry. To read Friday's report, click here.

April 9, 2009

Jack Newman proved today that he belongs. Entering the 2009 Masters as an afterthought in this year's field of 96, Newman posted an even par 72 in today's opening round to end Thursday in a tie for 39th. He also holds a two-shot lead on the next closest amateur - Danny Lee. Playing with a former Masters champion, Fred Couples, and a nine-time PGA Tour winner, Rocco Mediate, Newman fought off some nerves early, but posted the third-best second nine of the day - a three-under 33, including birdies on four of the last five holes. In all, he tied for fourth with six birdies today.

The day began a little later than usual for Newman, as he was able to sleep into about 8:30, before eating breakfast with his family and making his way over to Augusta National. After his typical warmup session, he took the short walk from the putting green to the first tee and patiently awaited the moment he had been waiting for since he won the U.S. Amateur Public Links this summer. Couples and Mediate's tee shots were the prelude to Newman's moment. His name was called out by the starter and he stepped between the markers to a chorus of cheers. A few moments later, his ball was in the middle of the fairway and he began his round as the first Michigan State golfer in the Masters.

Newman followed his first drive with an approach shot into the back part of the green, but went on to 3-putt to post a bogey-five in his first official hole at Augusta National. Like most of the afternoon, he drilled his second drive down the middle of the fairway and would be on the par-5 second green in three after a short chip. However, his putt from about five feet just slid past the hole for a par. Newman worked out of trouble throughout the third hole. After putting his tee shot in the left fairway bunker, his second shot went about eight feet off the back side of the green. From there, he putted it up to within five feet and sunk his par putt to complete the tough up-and-down. Newman had his second 3-putt of the day on the par-3 fourth, settling for the bogey at the hardest hole on the course today (3.36 average).

Newman's first Masters birdie came on the par-4 fifth hole, the ninth hardest hole today (4.08). He placed his drive down the right side, giving him a clean look at the flag. Newman stuck his second shot within three feet, just high of the hole. He calmly knocked in the slight downhill putt for one of the only 11 birdies on the fifth today - the fifth lowest of any hole. Although he put his tee shot on the green at the par-3 sixth, it took a tremendous two-putt to save par. With the pin on the lower platform of the green, Newman slipped his putt along the ridge before it fell down to his left towards the hole, stopping about five feet from the cup. He sunk the putt to remain one-over thru six holes. However, Newman would go on to bogey three of the next four holes to fall to four-over going into Amen Corner - 11th, 12th and 13th.

Here is where Newman's day turned around. A solid drive followed by an approach shot that settled about 10 feet in front of the flag on the 11th green, set up Newman's second birdie of the day. He drilled the putt, posting one of the eight birdies at the 11th, which played today as the fourth hardest hole (4.27 average). A bogey at the par-3 12th was followed by a par at the par-5 13th, despite being on in two. The previous two holes seemed to have fired up Newman, setting up the best finish by any golfer today.

A string of three-straight birdies began on the par-4 14th. A left side drive set up an approach that he stuck within 10 feet. He went on to center the putt in the cup for his third birdie. The smooth success of his putter carried over to the 15th and 16th. On 15, he laid up short of water in two, setting up a 60 yard chip which he spun to about 10 feet low of the hole. Again he sunk the putt and had a similar putt on the par-3 16th after sticking his tee shot just below the hole. His birdie on the 16th was just one of 24 there today and moved him to one-over for the day with two holes to play.

A solid par on the 17th, set the stage for the historical 18th hole. A dead-center drive gave Newman a look at the uphill green. He put his second shot just long, but it settled on top of a sprinkler head, allowing him to drop. With the ball sitting up in the fringe a couple yards off the green, Newman went to his putter and drilled the downhill 18-foot slider. His birdie was one of 14 on the closing hole, which played as the fifth most difficult today (4.19 average). The hole capped a run of four birdies in the final five holes and gave him an even-par round of 72.

For the day, Newman was tied for 26th with 12-of-18 greens in regulation (66.7%), tied for 35th with 10-of-14 fairways in regulation (71.4%) and tied for 36th in driving distance at 280.0 - even with Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia. Also he had the second most birdies on the par 4s with four, one behind Aaron Baddeley. Oddly enough, despite shooting a 72, Newman was towards the bottom of the field with 31 putts and was last with four 3-putts.

Newman stands above many well-known PGA Tour golfers on the leaderboard heading into the night. His names sits above four golfers in the top-10 of the World Golf Rankings, including No. 2 Phil Mickelson, No. 3 Sergio Garcia, No. 9 Robert Karlsson and No. 10 Camilo Villegas and is tied with No. 6 Paul Casey.

Newman expressed his feelings on today's first round to Golf Digest in his third "Masters Amateur Diary" entry. To read Thursday's account, click here.

April 8, 2009

The winds calmed down and the temperature warmed up, allowing Jack Newman and the rest of the field get a better feel of the conditions they will face as the 2009 Masters Tournament opens on Thursday. So Newman took the opportunity to jump out for nine holes in the morning. Joining up with 19-year-old phenom Rory McIlroy and 15-time PGA Tour champion Kenny Perry, he played the first nine. Newman says he continues to feel more comfortable out on the Augusta National green and liked the way he struck the ball today.

In between his practice holes and the Par 3 Contest, Newman sat down with Golfweek.com to do a chat. (For the complete transcript, click here.) After the chat, he went to find his dad, Bob, who would act as his caddie for the Par 3 Contest. The two made their way over to the Augusta National Par 3 course and met up with the rest of their threesome - 1979 Masters champion Fuzzy Zoeller and 1988 Masters champion Sandy Lyle - on the first tee box.

Newman ended up tying for second at the annual Par 3 Contest with a three-under par 24, two strokes behind champion Tim Clark. He led the field with five birdies, posting a 2 at the second, third, fourth, sixth and ninth holes. For most of the Par 3 Contest, Newman held the "nearest to hole" at the third (12 inches), but was surpassed by Mitch Voges (six inches) towards the end of the day. Newman's name was prominently displayed on the leaderboard throughout's ESPN's coverage of the event.

Newman ended his day by going back to his family's house to relax, play some cribbage and eat dinner, before coming back to Augusta National to work on some chipping and putting. Tonight he will move out of the Crow's Nest and spend the night with his family. Tomorrow afternoon, history will be made, when Newman tees it up at 12:02 p.m. with Fred Couples and Rocco Mediate.

Newman again shared his thoughts on the day with Golf Digest for his second "Masters Amateur Diary" entry. To read his feelings on Wednesday's action, click here.

April 7, 2009

Jack Newman had a fairly short Tuesday at Augusta National. Waking up in the fabled Crow's Nest, Newman made his way over to his family's house - in his brand new Mercedes Benz courtesy car - to have breakfast with his family and pick up his older brother Andy, who is serving as his caddie this week. After getting back to the course, Newman made his way from the driving range to the chipping area to the putting green. Around midday, he teed off the 10th hole with British Amateur champion and roommate in the Crow's Nest, Reinier Saxton. The pair played just the second nine and ended up merging for the final three holes with Anthony Kim and Todd Hamilton.

The highlight of Newman's round had to be the par-3, 16th hole. After their tee shots, the four golfers moved to the front of the tee box for a practice round tradition - attempting to skip the ball across the water onto the green. Saxton and Hamilton both failed to keep the ball dry, and Kim got it across but ended up in the back bunker. The last to go, Newman fired a low shot that took about four skips across the water before settling on the front part of the green. As the hundreds of patrons surrounding the green erupted, Newman gave a slight wave and grinned from ear-to-ear.

After today's nine holes, Newman was informed of his pairings for Thursday and Friday's rounds. Wanting to see for himself, he took the pairing sheet, looking for his name. Once he came across "Jack Newman" his face lit up in excitement. Newman will get to play the first two rounds with Rocco Mediate and Fred Couples - one of his childhood idols and someone he hoped to play with while in Augusta. The threesome will tee off at 12:02 p.m. on Thursday and 8:55 a.m. on Friday.

After his day at the course on Tuesday, Newman submitted his first entry for Golf Digest's "Masters Amateur Diary". To read his thoughts on his first couple days in Augusta, click here.

April 6, 2009

Monday began with tens of thousands of patrons pouring through the Augusta National Golf Club gates. People rushed to buy their Masters merchandise along with trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite golfers somewhere on the sacred grounds. This day began Jack Newman's week as one of those hawked golfers.

After hitting some balls on the driving range and on the chipping area, Newman made his way to the putting green, signing some autographs on his way. At the green, surrounded by patrons looking for photos, he was able to rub elbows with a handful of pros, including Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk. After his extensive warm up, Newman moved over to the first tee for his scheduled 18 holes with fellow Iowan and 2007 Masters champion, Zach Johnson.

Newman and Johnson ended up playing 15 holes on the afternoon, battling the windy elements. The pair was joined for three holes - seventh to ninth - by Anthony Kim, the 14th ranked player in the world. After an interview with the Big Ten Network, who followed him around the course today for a feature piece, Newman went back to his place in the Crow's Nest to change for the annual Amateur's Dinner and eventually prepare to watch the MSU men's basketball national championship game.

April 5, 2009

As the first official day of the 2009 Masters Tournament approaches on Monday, Jack Newman got a jump start on his acclimation of the Augusta National grounds. Even though he had already been to Augusta on four occasions over the last couple months - playing the course 15 times - Newman arrived in town on Friday night to get his bearings. He played the course on both Saturday and Sunday, settled in the Crow's Nest and spent time with his family that made their way down from Iowa. Newman capped the weekend by playing 27 holes today - nine with Rocco Mediate, and 18 with Boo Weekley and Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker, like Newman, won the U.S. Amateur Public Links, back in 2003 and would go on to tie for 41st in his trip to Augusta as an amateur.

 
bio

With a tournament that is synonymous with the color green, it is fitting that the green and white of Michigan State will be prominently displayed at this year's Masters. Spartan junior Jack Newman will make history, becoming the first MSU golfer - current student-athlete or graduate - to walk the fairways of Augusta National Golf Club in the most prominent golf tournament in the world.

The 73rd Masters Tournament is scheduled to be played April 9-12. Newman will be paired with Fred Couples and Rocco Mediate in the Thursday and Friday rounds, teeing off at 12:02 p.m. on Thursday and 8:55 a.m. on Friday. Practice rounds began on Monday, April 6 and the Par 3 Contest was held on Wednesday, April 8.

Wearing his Michigan State gear and using his Spartan golf bag, Newman will step onto the hollowed grounds this week to compete against the best golfers in the world. He was invited after winning the 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links in mid-July and will be one of five amateurs in this year's field of 96.

Newman capped off the U.S. Amateur Public Links title - held July 14-19 at Murphy Creek Golf Course in Aurora, Colo. - by defeating John Chin, 5&3, in the 36-hole match play final.

The Des Moines, Iowa, native, has helped the Spartans win the Big Ten Championship in each of this two seasons in Green and White. He currently leads this year's squad with a 72.4 stroke average and for his career, is fourth in MSU history with a 74.1 average. An All-Big Ten second team choice as a sophomore, Newman has won three collegiate events - the 2007 Fossum Invitational, the 2008 Western Intercollegiate and the 2008 Spartan Classic - and has seven top-5 finishes.

For Jack Newman's complete bio, click here.

For live scoring and video throughout the week, visit the official site of the Masters Tournament by clicking here.