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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April, 2005, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Wilson's walk in wonderland
By Matt Slater
Golf editor

Despite winning the 2004 British Amateur title and finishing as the best-placed non-professional at the Open a month later, Stuart Wilson did not have it all his own way last year.

Stuart Wilson
I want to retain my place in the Walker Cup team, that's the main aim
Stuart Wilson

He may have added a few feathers to his cap, but, by his own admission, it was a season of "highs and lows".

One of those lows came when he lost a play-off at the Craigmillar Park Open in Edinburgh.

But Wilson, whose day job is at the Dundee branch of the Auchterlonies golf shop, will not get a chance to right that wrong this year.

He has committed to play in a different tournament - the Masters.

Twelve months after popping into a pub to watch Phil Mickelson win his first major, Wilson will take his place alongside Lefty and co at golf's most exclusive tournament.

The 27-year-old, who won the 2003 Scottish Order of Merit with a record total, visited Augusta for the first time in February.

"It was tremendous," said Wilson. "We spent the first morning just looking around the clubhouse, there was just so much to take in.

"We looked at all the clubs the past champions have donated, Bobby Jones' Grand Slam clubs are there, and we looked around the Champions Locker Room and the Trophy Room. It was fantastic."

The Augusta National clubhouse
Wilson can call the clubhouse home during Masters week
The golf course wasn't bad either, and he even picked up a tip.

"One of the members told me the key to putting there is to drop the ball in deadweight at the topside of the hole," said Wilson. "So I've been practising that."

In fact, as daunting as playing against the likes of Mickelson must be, Wilson, who is a member of Forfar Golf Club, will not be short of supporters at amateur-friendly Augusta.

After all, the club was co-founded by the greatest amateur of all time, Bobby Jones Jr., the only player to win four majors in a single season.

The amateur ethos, therefore, runs deep, and Wilson will be one of five non-professionals in the field, the others being the US Amateur champion and runner-up, the US Amateur Public Links champion and the US Mid-Amateur champion.

And Wilson, who spent a year as a professional after leaving school, intends to take up one of the perks of his status, the right to stay in Augusta National's famous Crow's Nest.

Housed in the 11ft sq cupola of the clubhouse, the history-steeped sleeping quarters are made available for all five amateurs for the duration of Masters week.

Prince Andrew and Stuart Wilson with British Amateur trophy at St Andrews
Wilson has been mixing with golf's aristocracy since his St Andrews win
Wilson, like Tiger Woods before him, will only stay one night before decamping to a hotel with his wife, but it is another box to tick off his Masters experience wish-list.

As for the playing side of things, Wilson has a clear plan for 2005.

"I am going to stay in the amateur ranks and play a full season again," he said. "And I want to retain my place in the Walker Cup team, that's the main aim."

Wilson was a key member of the Great Britain and Ireland team that beat the Americans for a third successive time at Ganton in 2003, and a good showing at the Masters would stand him in good stead for a seat on the plane to Chicago in August.

At 7,290 yards, the Augusta National will present a stiff test for Wilson, certainly a tad more testing than Craigmillar Park's 5,843 yards.

But Wilson won't be complaining. For him, being the British Amateur champion at the Masters is "as good as it gets".



Links to more Masters 2005 stories


 

SEE ALSO
Birthday boy scoops silver
18 Jul 04 |  Golf
Wilson wins British Amateur
05 Jun 04 |  Golf


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