He could be called the second-most famous golfer currently at Stanford. He could be called the one Stanford golfer in the Masters field who hasn’t won the tournament. Such negative observations about the most positive of young men.
You know what’s happening at Augusta this first Thursday in April. The Masters, the first major of the year, begins at a course where the legends crowd along with the pine trees. Over here is where Jack Nicklaus holed that long birdie in ’75. Back there is where Phil Mickelson curved that ball around the tree in ’10.
What you might not know is David Chung, 21, a Stanford junior, is among those playing this year, a qualifier for finishing as runner-up in last year’s U.S. Amateur. What you might not know is Chung, a communications major, is writing, with help, a daily diary for Masters.com.
What you do know, surely, is Michelle Wie, with her elegance and years of attention, is a Stanford student, as well as an LPGA member. What you do know, indeed, is Stanford products Tiger Woods and Tom Watson have six Masters championships between them — Woods four, Watson two.
Woods, who left Stanford after two years in the summer of ’96, became the reason for Chung to cross the nation from his home in North Carolina and enroll at Stanford.
“He chose Stanford because Tiger did,” Chung’s mother, Elise, told the Fayetteville Observer. “When he visited Stanford, it was really special to him.”
Chung is in the second group off the tee today, with Sandy Lyle of Scotland and Alexander Cjeka of Germany. A first-timer rarely wins here, and an amateur never wins here, but Chung is thinking more of the experience than the result.
He is staying in the Crow’s Nest, the upper-story apartment above the clubhouse, as did Watson and Woods when they were amateurs. He is using his father, Chris, as his caddie.
“It doesn’t even feel like a tournament,” Chung wrote in his diary. “It’s just a great experience. I can’t believe I’m inside the ropes at the Masters doing it.”
The disbelief is refreshing. So many young athletes attempt to act as if what they’ve accomplished or what they’re doing is nothing out of the ordinary. They stride about in attempt to prove they are “cool” — a favorite description — and unimpressed with any situation.
Chung is impressed, by the Masters and Augusta National Golf Course — not with himself.
“What I can do right now,” he said in the diary, helped by Tom Spousta of Augusta.com, “is prepare and focus how things are going to be so much different from a college tournament — the crowds, the Crow’s Nest, everything.
“I’ve played in front of large crowds. Maybe one or two thousand at the Amateur. But to have that many on every hole will be something I have to be ready for.”
His coaches at Stanford, Conrad Ray and Philip Rowe, had suggested Chung rearrange his dorm room to resemble the tight quarters of the Crow’s Nest.”
“When Tiger was at Stanford,” recalled Chung, “he putted on the basketball court at Maples Pavilion because there weren’t any greens as fast as he would see at the Masters.”
Which direction did the foul line break?