The Masters: English Amateur Laird Shepherd relishing ‘surreal’ Augusta National debut | Golf News

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English Amateur Champion Laird Shepherd says it has not yet heavy in that he has earned a place in The Masters

English Amateur Champion Laird Shepherd says it has not yet heavy in that he has earned a place in The Masters

English Amateur Laird Shepherd is eagerly looking forward to his “surreal” Masters debut after Qualifying in dramatic style last year.

The 24-year-old won the 126th Amateur Championship at Nairn in June, producing an Astonishing comeback to beat fellow Englishman Monty Scowsill having been eight down after 17 holes of the 36-hole final.

With a place in the Masters, the Open Championship and the US Open at stake, they were still four down with four to play but won them all before clinching the title on the second extra hole.

“For some reason I never really felt I was going to lose and I just kept myself alive. To come through at the second extra hole I couldn’t believe it,” Shepherd told Sky Sports News at Augusta National.

Shepherd’s Victory was all the more remarkable given his struggles with back and knee injuries which often meant he would go months without touching a club, and he had been contemplating returning to university to study for another degree just 10 days before the final.

He also worked at a Tesco call center during Lockdown but has since competed in the Open Championship at Royal St George’s and made the cut in the Cazoo Classic on the DP World Tour.

Shepherd in action at The Open at Royal St George's Golf Club last year where they missed the cut by two shots

Shepherd in action at The Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club last year where they missed the cut by two shots

The “surreal” Masters debut now awaits Shepherd and he will also play in the US Open in June.

“It probably won’t sink in until I peg it up on Thursday,” he added. “I never really got this far in my dreams because it just didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen. It’s pretty surreal to be here and I’m looking forward to it.

“Just over a year ago I was working in a call center in Dundee for Tesco. I’ve been struggling for the last three-and-a-half or four years with injections and hadn’t really been able to play a set schedule because of that.

“I was starting to think about doing other things to be honest, so in terms of Covid it almost hit at the right time because it gave me a bit of time to reassess what I needed to do to get healthy and get playing and I was able to keep that going and obviously play some golf and play some decent golf. “

‘You’d love to play with Tiger’

Shepherd will learn on Tuesday who he will be playing alongside for the first two rounds and although he says he is happy to play with anyone, he does have one particular player in both in the shape of the five-time Masters Champion Tiger Woods, who will make a “game-time decision” about making a remarkable comeback after traveling to Augusta National on Sunday.

“Honestly I would take anyone – anyone playing in this field is pretty good at golf so it will be fun to learn from anyone I get a chance to,” said Shepherd.

The Masters – Live

April 4, 2022, 5:00 pm

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“Obviously you’d love to play with Tiger. To think growing up, to now playing in the same event as him, potentially – we will see what happens – it would be just completely surreal. I will probably try my best to seek him out at some stage just to say hello.

“The guy is just a god, he has such an aura and personally having the injury troubles I’ve had to watch someone like him consistently come back and put the hard yards in to come and play tournament golf again is pretty inspiring. Golf owes him a lot. “

Professional plan after US Open

After playing in The Masters and the US Open as an Amateur, Shepherd plans to turn professional.

He said: “I’ll probably be turning pro on the Monday after the US Open all going well. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and these events give me a good start on that journey I suppose.

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“[I will] try and learn a lot and gain experience and then we will see what we can do. Just securing a card for next year is my goal and go from there.

“I have the utmost respect for anyone that’s playing professional golf because it’s a grind. It means you have to enjoy stuff like this because it might never happen again. I’ll be enjoying this week for sure.”

Shepherd Twins have a busy week ahead

One member of Shepherd’s family who will not be at Augusta National to watch him is his twin brother, Callum, a leading Flat jockey who is set to be riding on the all-weather on Thursday and Friday.

Jockey Callum Shepherd has ridden 14 winners so far this year

Jockey Callum Shepherd has ridden 14 winners so far this year

“It’s not the same as being there but I’ll be following him as closely as I can. For him being there is very, very special but I hope they can play some good golf,” Callum Shepherd told the Racing Post.

“My parents are going over with some family friends. They’ve rented a house but I’m going to stick it out here at the likes of Redcar [on Monday]”

When is The Masters live on Sky Sports?

What time does The Masters coverage start? What extra feeds are available? How can I follow the action from Augusta National? Our guide to watching the opening men’s major of the year live on Sky Sports Golf.

Monday April 4

1700-1900 – On the Range LIVE!

1900-2200 – Live from The Masters

Tuesday April 5

1400-2200 – Live from The Masters

Wednesday April 6

1400-1900 – Live from The Masters

1900-2230 – The Masters: Par-3 contest LIVE!

Thursday April 7

1400-1930 – Featured Groups LIVE!

1930-0030 – The Masters: Day one LIVE!

Red button (exact timings TBC) – 1330 On the Range, 1430 Holes 4-6, 1545 Amen Corner, 1645 Holes 15-16, 1830 Featured Groups

Friday April 8

1400-1930 – Featured Groups LIVE!

1930-0030 – The Masters: Day two LIVE!

Red button (exact timings TBC) – 1330 On the Range, 1430 Holes 4-6, 1545 Amen Corner, 1645 Holes 15-16, 1830 Featured Groups

Saturday April 9

0900-1200 – Masters Breakfast LIVE!

1500-1930 – The Masters build-up LIVE!

1930-0030 – The Masters: Day three LIVE!

Red button (exact timings TBC) – 1515 Featured Groups, 1530 Holes 4-6, 1600 On the Range, 1645 Amen Corner, 1730 Holes 15-16

Sunday April 10

0900-1200 – Masters Breakfast LIVE!

1500-1830 – The Masters build-up LIVE!

1830-0030 – The Masters: Day four LIVE!

Red button (exact timings TBC) – 1515 Featured Groups, 1530 Holes 4-6, 1600 On the Range, 1645 Amen Corner, 1730 Holes 15-16

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