AUGUSTA, Ga. – Eighty-three years after his grandfather, Frank Sr., performed in the Masters, Tyler Strafaci will proceed to attempt to do him one higher whereas extending the family’s spectacular novice golf legacy.
“My grandfather was a greater than life character,” Strafaci stated. “He was a small guy with a big personality and people just gravitated towards him. I never met him but I feel like I met him.”
Strafaci, 22, skilled his personal magical summer time on the novice circuit in 2020, claiming the North & South Amateur and Palmetto Amateur earlier than bagging the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes. The latter was the “Holy Grail” of the Strafaci household, and it earned him an invite to his first Masters, one in all solely three amateurs to play in the eighty fifth Masters, in addition to a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup workforce that may compete at Seminole Golf Club in May.
“Winning (the U.S. Amateur) for me was the first time I felt a connection to my grandfather,” Strafaci stated.
Strafaci’s grandfather, the late Frank Strafaci Sr., forged an enormous shadow. He additionally was a former USGA champion, having gained the 1935 U.S. Amateur Public Links title in addition to back-to-back North & South Amateur titles, in 1938 and 1939. After his household immigrated from Italy, he grew up in Brooklyn and gained 27 novice tournaments, together with a seven-time Met (N.Y.) Amateur champion, ending ninth in the 1938 U.S. Open and 58th in the 1950 Masters. In his inaugural look at Augusta National in 1938, he withdrew from the Masters after one spherical to go and defend his title at the North & South, which he gained.
“If I did that, I don’t think I would ever be invited back,” Strafaci cracked.
But the household has lengthy treasured his bronze 1950 contestant, which Frank Jr., retains in his workplace.
“He hasn’t let me touch it pretty much my whole life, but I’ve gone there and touched it a few times,” Strafaci stated. “It’s really cool just seeing that part of history in his office and where he came from. That just shows how important that golf tournament was to him.”
Strafaci by no means wished to play Augusta National till he adopted in his grandfather’s footsteps and certified for the event, however he ultimately loosened that rule after committing to play golf at Georgia Tech because the golf workforce performed there yearly. He’s performed the course 10 occasions in the lead as much as the Masters, together with a spherical together with his father final week.
“That was probably as cool of an experience as I’ll ever have in my life,” the junior Strafaci stated.
Strafaci, a fifth-year senior who earned his bachelor’s diploma in enterprise administration in the autumn, skipped his ultimate semester of eligibility at Georgia Tech and plans to show professional shortly after the Walker Cup. He displaced just a few ribs and sprained his SC joint, the place the collarbone and sternum meet, at the Genesis Invitational in February, however stated it has healed.
“It hurt a lot. I couldn’t really extend probably more than a couple feet past the ball and I couldn’t really hit the ball very far,” he stated. “I’ve been having kind of a pitch count. I’ve been hitting maybe 20, 30 balls a day for the last two or three weeks. But I’m hitting it really good. I feel healthy. My mind is clear, and so there’s no excuses for playing bad golf this week.”
Strafaci deliberate to spend Monday evening in the Crow’s Nest, and he’s already launched himself to Dustin Johnson in advance of the normal pairing of the U.S. Amateur champion and defending champion of the Masters for the primary two rounds. Other than that, his recreation plan is straightforward: Have enjoyable.
“I’m competing for the love of the game this week, which is great. I’m an amateur. That’s a great thing about the Masters,” Strafaci stated. “It’s probably going to be the last time that’s going to happen for quite some time other than the Walker Cup where it’s just for the purity and love of the game.”