Masters low amateur Neal Shipley plays with Tiger Woods: ‘He was great to me all day’

Neal Shipley was a step ahead.

The 23-year-old amateur dressed in his blue polo with his brown locks bouncing under his PING hat strutted down the 2nd fairway at Augusta National. Just behind him, dressed in his Sunday red, was Tiger Woods.

Woods was in unique form, more talkative, more jovial than we’re accustomed to seeing during a tournament round. This was not Woods on the prowl. Not trying to intimidate. Not trying to scare with his intensity. This was Woods, the five-time Masters champion, telling jokes.

As Shipley walked, his head tilted back and he let out a chuckle. And Woods kept talking, becoming more and more animated as he talked, using his arms to accentuate his points.

Shipley kept pace, stride for stride. He didn’t say much. He just kept laughing, looking over at Woods and wondering how this all became a reality.

“We were chatty,” Shipley said after the round, adding that the two talked about golf, Woods’ son Charlie and “just normal things.”

“He’s such a normal guy,” Shipley said. “He’s really cool. He was great to me all day. I couldn’t be more appreciative of him being awesome. It was really cool to be around him and just the attention he gets and the roars. The crowds were phenomenal.”

Shipley, who earned an invitation to the Masters as the runner-up to the current U.S. Amateur Champion (Nick Dunlap), knew he was the low amateur at Augusta by Friday. He was the only one of the five amateurs who made the cut, heading into the weekend at 3-over par.

In Masters tradition, the low amateur at every tournament is honored during the green jacket ceremony inside Augusta National Golf Club’s Butler Cabin on Sunday night. He’ll receive the Silver Cup.

The fact that Jim Nantz will be asking Shipley questions in Butler Cabin is a tad surprising. The Ohio State graduate student is currently the 37th-ranked amateur in the world. While Shipley played the weekend, the top amateur in the world, Christo Lamprechet, and Dunlap, who beat Shipley in the U.S. Amateur, both missed the cut.

While Shipley struggled Saturday, shooting a 6-over round, it placed him in the third pairing of the day alongside Woods. If you’re outside contention, it’s hard to have a better Sunday in Augusta.

“Playing with Tiger Sunday at the Masters and the whole week I had,” Shipley said, “I think I’d have to win one of these to top this week.”

Tiger Woods final score

Woods set the Masters record for consecutive Masters cuts made (24) but finished the tournament with a 5-over par 77 round Sunday and was +16 overall for the week.

Shipley shot a 1-over 73 in his final round to finish 12-over par overall.

Tiger Woods and Neal Shipley talk on the ninth hole Sunday during the final round of the Masters.
Tiger Woods and Neal Shipley talk on the ninth hole Sunday during the final round of the Masters.